How to Get Your Toddler Used to Wearing Masks
Plan • by Rita Tarnate • Nov 30, 2020 • 2 min read
Coronavirus continues to be a threat, and by now, we all know the drill; wash your hands often, social distance, and wear a mask. As adults, we understand that when social distancing isn’t guaranteed, properly wearing a mask can help protect ourselves and others. But how do we convey that to our kids?
Like adults, children should wear masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible. Exceptions are when eating and napping or if the child is unable to remove their mask on their own.
Regulations vary by state, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends masks for all children over the age of 2. Easier said than done, right?
Unless your little one has been in preschool or daycare during the pandemic, they may have little to no experience with wearing masks. And with the holidays and potential gatherings or flights coming up, you’ll need them to be comfortable with wearing a mask. So how do we introduce mask-wearing to our toddlers?
Explain What's Happening
Set the Example
Our kids take their cues from us. When they see us wearing a mask every time we leave the house, they start to understand that it’s just another thing we do, like brushing our teeth. You can also talk about other people they know who wear masks, show them pictures, or even video chat with family members while wearing masks.
Get Them Involved
These days, it seems like everyone sells masks, and there are lots of fun, kid-friendly designs to choose from. Find a few options and have your child pick their favorites. Your child can also decorate a plain mask with their own design, using fabric markers.
As with anything new, give your tot plenty of time to learn and adjust. Use a doll or stuffed animal to show them how to put on and take off a mask, then practice wearing masks around the house. This allows you to troubleshoot any issues like fit or comfort while being in a low-risk setting and helps them work their way up to wearing masks for longer periods. Try pretend-play games that involve masks, like being a doctor, and don’t forget to praise your child!
Explain the Rules
Let your child know when we need to wear a mask and when we don’t. Before you visit places where masks are required, repeat the rules and explain what’s happening so they know what to expect. If you’re preparing them for travel (airlines won’t let you board without a mask), be sure to talk about mask-wearing in that context.
The pandemic is extremely unfortunate and far from over. We’ve all had to make adjustments, but toddlers are resilient. They do well with daily routines and adjust relatively quickly. There may be a few snags at first, but gently remind them why it’s important and keep at it. They already know it’s important to wear seat belts in the car and helmets when biking. As they see more people wearing masks, they eventually won’t think twice about it either.
If your toddler is comfortable wearing masks, please share your tips in the comments below!