Fun ideas to encourage children to wear their face coverings in public

As is usually the case with our children: “Monkey see, monkey do.”

It is important to serve as role models for our kids every day, but it’s especially important in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent any major outbreaks in our community. By wearing a face covering and teaching our children how face coverings are an effective way to protect others from catching the deadly virus, we can help keep ourselves and others around us healthy.

Adjusting to this new temporary way of life can be difficult for a lot of children, which is why our goal as parents should be to make the transition as easy as possible. The best way to do this is to make mask-wearing fun by finding a face covering that best resonates with your child — one that they find comfortable and stylish enough to wear on a normal basis.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends face coverings that are adjustable to help ensure they snugly stay in place over your child’s nose and mouth, no matter the size of their face. Pleated face coverings with elastic are likely to work best for kids.

Although the list isn’t much different for adults, here are a few recommendations our team at Memorial Regional Health suggests for face coverings for children.

1. Traditional mask (single-use or cloth)

At this point in the pandemic, you’ll find that many local and national retailers offer single-use or cloth masks for sale in store and online.

Cloth masks should do the trick for your child, as long as you find the right size. Many brands offer “child” sizes for masks as well — be on the lookout for these, as adult-sized masks may be too big for your kid.

Try masks with different styles and materials from different brands to find the ones that your child likes the most and will be able to wear for extended periods of time.

2. Bandanas

Bandanas are easy to purchase in various stores or online, and they can work as an effective, simple cloth face covering for children. Keep in mind this face covering may be tougher for younger children to learn.

Fold the bandana diagonally so that it is wide enough to cover the bridge of your child’s nose to their chin. You may need to fold it lengthwise from here a few times to shorten it up to fit your child’s face, and so that multiple layers of fabric are covering their nose and mouth.

Once it reaches a good fit, tie a knot at the back of the head or neck area to ensure it is snug.

3. Gaiter or buff

A gaiter/buff is an excellent and easy way for your child to wear a face covering in public. Often used for sun protection around the neck or for warmth during snowy activities, buffs are available in lightweight fabrics that are easier to breathe in, allowing for your child to wear them for longer periods of time.

The rules are simple for this method. Find a buff or gaiter that your child likes and finds comfortable. Have them slip it on over their head and wear it around their neck. When they are in close proximity to others, have them pull it up over their nose and mouth, ensuring they place it in a way in which they don’t have to constantly pull it back up over their nose.

4. A DIY mask

Sometimes, the best fit comes from a handmade fit.

Find a piece of cloth from an old t-shirt or other fabric from your local craft store and turn it into a perfect match for your child’s face. You want the material of the mask to be lightweight and not restrictive of breathing.

By making your own mask rather than purchasing one, you can ensure your child’s mask is not too small or too big for them by tweaking and making adjustments to the mask while you’re putting it together. Doing it this way can also make the mask-wearing experience more fun for your kid, who can choose the fabric they like best and physically be a part of the creation process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers sew and no-sew instructions for individuals to follow. To learn more, check out their step-by-step guides here. The Colorado Mask Project also has some phenomenal resources if you are wanting to create your child’s mask at home — learn more and find video tutorials here.

5. A scarf

Being from northwest Colorado, many of us have this face covering option in our closets already. Scarves can be an easy, last-resort alternative for a face covering if nothing else is working for your child.

Take the scarf and wrap it around your child’s neck so that it is even on both sides. Pull the middle material that is wrapped around the neck upward over their nose and mouth. Ensure it is comfortable and fits their face properly, then tighten the remaining ends of the scarf to secure the face covering. Pull the remaining ends around your child’s neck to tie in the back. Check out this video for easy instructions on how to do this.

Ensure the scarf you choose is made of tightly woven materials that allow your child to breathe, but will still prevent any respiratory droplets from coming out or in.

More about mask-wearing

Colorado’s mask mandate requires those who are 11 years of age or older to wear a face covering while in public. For their safety, children under the age of 2 should never wear a face covering. Moffat County School District requires children in sixth grade and above to wear a face covering if they are learning in person — learn more about that here.

For more information on the effectiveness and benefits of mask-wearing during a pandemic, please refer to your primary care provider. If you have further questions about your child’s health and wearing face coverings, feel free to reach out to their pediatrician for further guidance and advice.

To learn more about pediatric care at Memorial Regional Health, visit our service page here or call 970-826-2480.