Kids and Face Masks: What you Need to Know
Under the recent revised and extended stay-at-home order, Ontario Health officials and the CDC are now recommending the use of face masks when out in public. As more businesses start to reopen, it will likely be expected that employees and customers wear masks (some stores are now making it mandatory.) When measures are relaxed and we are able to go out again (while still physical distancing,) wearing masks in public will likely be our ‘new’ normal.
When kids think of face masks, they likely associate the use of these masks with doctors, nurses and dentists. Others may think of people in the manufacturing or construction industries, as workers who also wear masks.
What kids are not used to is seeing everyone on the street wearing a mask as they walk around, grocery shop or go to the park. For kids – especially younger ones – putting on a mask or face covering can be intimidating, strange or just plain scary.
Remind your kids that, like industries where people wear masks for safety reasons, they too will be wearing masks to stay safe. Parents can try to make a game of it to help alleviate fears. Making your own masks with the kids, as a project, may also help. If your kids are very young, make a mask for a stuffie, teddy bear or doll. Kids can practice with their favourite toy.
While there are no specific guidelines when it comes to kids and masks, here are some general tips:
▪ Kids should practice wearing them at home first before heading out.
▪ Remind them that it’s important to keep the mask on, even when talking, coughing or sneezing.
▪ Praise kids for keeping their masks on and for practicing physical distancing.
▪ Remind kids to resist the urge to touch the outside of their masks or their faces.
▪ Remind kids that masks are NOT a replacement for physical distancing or hand-washing.
▪ Try to use pediatric-sized masks which are smaller in size, for best protection.
▪ To avoid suffocation, toddlers under age 2 should not wear a mask (definitely a no for babies.)
If you can’t find masks, these sites offer instructions on how to make your own, with sewing and no sew options. Cotton is the best fabric to use; think old clothing, sheets or t-shirts.
The Stitching Scientist provides step-by-step instructions to make kid-sized masks.
Get instructions from Cricut for a no-sew version that might be easier for the kids to make, out of their favourite t-shirt. Pick a pattern that will be attractive and fun for your child (Mickey Mouse, super heroes, princesses or animals).
The CDC also offers instructions to make your own face coverings, with sewing and non-sewing options, and how to maintain and wash them.
If you have a sewing machine, these kids' masks by See Kate Sew are so cute. A mask template is provided.
Remember to wash masks after each use (so make several), and dispose of one-time-use masks and gloves in the garbage.
Update as of July 2020: It is now mandatory to wear masks in indoor spaces in the City of Toronto. For other cities, check your city by-laws as many other cities are following suit.
Note: Information surrounding the coronavirus changes rapidly. For the most up-to-date information and updates on COVID-19, please visit:
Toronto Public Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
World Health Organization