NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s hard to get kids to do anything these days: eat dinner, wash their hands, or brush their teeth. So how, during this Coronavirus pandemic, can you get them to wear a mask? And where should they be wearing face masks?
Doctor Frank Mongillo said, “Your best bet is if you can make a game of it. Get them masks that are decorated that they might want to wear or decorate themselves, you know that’s great.”
The Centers for Disease Control has recommended putting a mask on children 2 yrs and older. But, the recommendation here in Connecticut is three and older.
“Children three and older should certainly be wearing a mask,” says Dr. Juan Salazar of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. That’s a recommendation here in Connecticut but masks are now required for those over the age of two – when social distancing can’t be maintained – in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
And, consider safety issues in regards to a child with special needs.
“They don’t recommend facemask under two because they can’t take them off easily and you don’t want to cause breathing difficulties,” Mongillo explained.
The CDC recommends the mask fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
When it comes to materials, Dr. Mongillo says any cloth material that is affordable will work. Even the simplest of fabrics for your child will do as long as they can breathe through it.
Buy an inexpensive child-sized version or get creative. Embark on a family project and make a cloth one at home.
Also, think ahead. “You do need to begin using it in the house so they get used to it,” says Dr. Salazar.
The thing to remember, kids can be asymptomatic and the mask prevents them from spreading the virus if they have it. The CDC says if worst comes to worst, get your child to keep a good social distance from others.
“We’re not out in too much of the public yet,” says father-of-two David Becker of Southport. But, when he and his daughters – ages four and eight – take walks and pass people, they are wearing masks.
“They think that it’s almost fun, if that makes sense,” he says.
But, what if kids fidget with the mask once it’s on their face?
“Just make sure they’re washing their hands frequently,” Dr. Salazar says. “Take a deep breath, use common sense, physical distance, hand washing, use the alcohol disinfectant, and put the mask on with a nice superhero motif.”
Becker, also a firefighter and the Emergency Management Director in Kent, believes kids adapt easily, a good skill in today’s world. “It’s about staying safe, protecting yourself but also doing your part to protect everybody else and those are things we’re instilling in our children anyway,” he says.
Dr. Salazar says this conversation isn’t going away anytime too soon. Kids could be wearing this new fashion for another 6 to 12 months or until we have an effective vaccine to fight against COVID 19.