Should Children Wear Face Masks in Public?

The spread of Covid-19 has, without a doubt, instilled fear and uncertainty in many people. Even with lockdowns being lifted in countries across the globe, parents are particularly worried about the state of their children going back to school and mingling with other kids. Masks help to keeps us safe from the novel coronavirus. In most areas, including health facilities, airports, and hotels, wearing face masks is mandatory. But what about children? Should they wear face masks in public? Keep reading for answers to some of the frequently asked questions about masks and children during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Importance of Wearing Face Masks

Some people have the Covid-19 virus but don’t show any symptoms. That’s why wearing face masks is crucial in combating the spread of the disease. As you may be aware, anyone infected with the coronavirus can transmit the infection through sneezing or coughing, whenever they come within six feet of you.

How Do Face Masks Work?

As previously mentioned, COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person talks, sings, coughs, or sneezes. Generally, people can be contagious even if they are not showing any symptoms.

When you wear a face mask, the droplets are trapped and stopped from being passed from one person to another. Masks also protect the wearer from inhaling droplets and getting infected.

Should Children Wear Masks?

The coronavirus is spread in numerous ways, particularly when people are in close contact. The fact that some people can carry the virus without showing any symptoms makes it risky for everyone, including children. So, yes children should wear masks. According to World Health Organization (WHO), children aged five years and below are not required to wear masks. This is solely based on the safety and overall capacity of the child to wear a face mask appropriately with minimal assistance. Children aged six years and above should wear masks based on the following factors:

  • When there is widespread transmission in the area where the child lives
  • The child can safely use a face mask
  • An adult supervises the child and teaches them how to put on a mask, take it off, and other safety measures
  • The child is in a setting that puts them in close contact with people who are at high risk of developing a serious illness, such as the elderly.
  • If they are experiencing Covid-related symptoms, such as coughing and fever
  • If they are in an area where they can be in contact with contaminated surfaces and are unable to keep their hands off the surfaces.
  • Where otherwise required by law

A child should not wear a face mask if:

  • They are under the age of two because of a choking hazard
  • If they have difficulty breathing
  • If they are unable to remove the face mask without assistance

What Kind of Face Mask is Best?

Face masks come in different varieties. For maximum protection, choose one that contains multiple layers of fabric. It’s important to find the right size that fits perfectly into your child’s face. An average adult’s mask measures 6×12 inches and those of children 5×10 inches. However, the kid’s masks might be too large for small children.

How Should One Wear a Mask?

Do you wear your masks correctly? There is a right and wrong way to wear a mask. To correctly wear a face mask, place it securely over the mouth and nose, and stretch it from ear to ear. The mask should fit snugly along the sides of the face without leaving any gaps. Before wearing a mask, remember to wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching it once worn. Make sure that the mask you choose for your children allows for breathing without restriction. The WHO recommends the use of fabric masks for children due to their breathability nature. The masks should be washed daily (after every use) in hot water with detergent. Allow the mask to dry completely before it can be used again.

What If My Baby Is Too Young to Wear a Mask? How Can I Protect Them?

The best and most effective measure against exposure to the coronavirus is staying at home. Avoid taking your kids to crowded places, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Along with practicing social distancing, people are encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Additionally, people should seek vaccination when it becomes available. Anyone who’s sick with cough, congestion, fever, runny nose, diarrhea, or vomiting, should stay home.

Keep Your Child Safe

Always monitor your child to make sure that they are practicing the stipulated health measures to help protect themselves from COVID. Check your child’s mask and make sure that it’s covering their mouth, nose, and chin. Also, be sure to check for any gaps on the side and that the masks do not block their visions. Remind your child to always wash their hands before putting on the mask and after removing it. Remember, a mask alone won’t stop the spread of the coronavirus. It’s only effective when combined with other preventive behaviors. Let them know that apart from washing their hands thoroughly with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizers, they should avoid spaces with poor ventilation. To help your kids embrace wearing masks, be honest and supportive. Recognize the fact that masks aren’t fun for most of us but they keep us safe. Try to make masks fun by letting them choose the fabric they want to be used to make the masks.

All images by Shutterstock

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