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Coronavirus: How to Get Your Little One to Wear a Face Mask

By: MaryFran Anderson

My toddler literally runs around naked by choice and her favorite word right now is “NO!“. Now I’m being told I need to force her into wearing a face mask? I feel exhausted at the simple thought…

Despite the wishes of our strong-willed toddlers —and the quickly fading energy of us quarantined, working from home, anxious parents—The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently pivoted and now advises that Americans should wear cloth face coverings when venturing out into closed public spaces where social distancing is difficult or impossible. And for good reason! Although it is less likely, Covid-19 can still spread through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals and the use of cloth face coverings can significantly slow down this spread.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The CDC, and Parkside for that matter, are all going to first recommend to simply try to avoid taking your little one to a closed, crowded, public space when possible. However, when your family does need to venture out, all parties listed above would also recommend that a cloth face covering should be used for your child, and for yourself.

***Please note: This is not to be confused with a surgical mask which should be reserved for health care workers.***

That said, children wearing a face mask or covering is not as black and white as it sounds. There is some leeway and even a few exceptions that all parents should be aware of. Keep reading for important info and for helpful tips…

First off, Let’s cover the Mask Recommendations for Children from AAP:

  •  Children under the age of 2 should NOT be wearing masks or face coverings due to choking hazards and risks of suffocation. 
  •  If social distancing is being followed properly, and children are being kept six feet apart (or more) from adults and other children around them, a face covering is not needed.
  •  Children with cognitive or respiratory impairments should not wear face coverings.
  •  As stated above, experts are encouraging everyone to utilize homemade cloth masks so that the demand for medical-grade masks does not become too high. If you are craftier than I, you can make your own masks at home. However, for those of you that are literally hanging on by a thread like myself, plenty of retailers are now offering cloth masks in a variety of sizes at a reasonable price.
  • Remember to wash your hands and your child’s hands before and after their mask is put on.
  • After wearing the face-covering for an outing, wash and dry it before using it again.

Now for the real reason you’re reading this post, How do you actually get your toddler or preschooler to let you put a mask on their face…and keep it on?

  •  Try and make the experience of wearing a mask fun and enjoyable for your child. Change your verbiage around mask-wearing so that the idea begins to have a more positive connotation for your child. Say things like, “We get to wear a mask together!” or “Isn’t this a neat way to protect others?”.
  •  Get creative. Let your child make a face covering for their doll that matches their own. Let your little one decorate their mask or pick out their own to help them feel more in control and less scared of their face covering. I know my nephew would truly love to wear a Spiderman mask…just sayin’.
  • Practice makes perfect. If you’re having an especially hard time getting your child accustomed to wearing a face covering, encourage them to wear it for a few minutes at home. This will eliminate fear and hopefully help them to be less fidgety with the mask when they are out in public.

Your child, and mine, can be asymptomatic carriers—showing no signs of illness at all. Let’s do our best to keep those who are at high risk within our communities safe while we are still learning about the novel Corona Virus and possible treatments to combat it.

Until next time,

MaryFran Anderson

Community Engagement Coordinator, mother of two, and guacamole enthusiast

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