Where to buy kids' face masks - and how to encourage children to wear them
As countries loosen lockdown restrictions, children around the world are emerging from quarantine with a new, not-so-pleasant accessory: face masks.
As lovely as it is to see people resuming some semblance of normality, the new normal isn't quite what we're used to. Especially when we see all those children in face masks.
Countries around the world have made face coverings in public mandatory: secondary school kids in France will be going back to school wearing them, while toddlers in New York have been spotted in them already.
While it's still unclear if face masks will be required in the UK - possibly on public transport and in shops, as in many other European countries - many people are buying them for themselves and their families already. Even if they're not made mandatory, many have chosen to adopt face masks when out, and we predict more will want to as the lockdown eases, whether to protect a vulnerable family member or just to feel more confident walking around in public.
Photo: Vera Davidova/Unsplash
According to the CDC, which helpfully has a few DIY cloth face mask templates, including how to make a face mask from an old T-shirt, children under the age of two shouldn't wear face masks. The face masks kids and adults should be wearing aren't medical-grade N-95 ones, but simple cloth designs that can be machine-washed (and should be, regularly).
As any parent who's tried to get a helmet on their wildly scooting child's head is thinking: How on earth will I be able to convince my child to wear one of these things? Parents are also worried about their children's anxiety with everything that's been going on, and the potential for face masks to cause further distress. Check out our helpful expert tips below, as well as links to a range of cute face masks for kids.
Where to find kids' face masks
Finding face masks in patterns, fun colours and lovely organic cottons that look appealing and feel soft on the skin will certainly help make face masks less scary for little ones. Here are a selection of retailers where you can buy them online:
Hype may be the go-to for any teen wanting a graffiti logo shirt and all school kids who want a space print rucksack, but it's also got a fantastic selection of kids' face masks available on the site, too. From camo to tie-dye, florals to jungle print, there's a range of prints to appeal to boys and girls.
The kids' masks come in three-packs for £24.99, and there are a range of adult styles available too. Kids' masks are made from a polyester-elastane blend, and fitted with an FFPI filter. For each mask set purchase, Hype donates a surgical mask to the NHS, a care home or a key worker in need, as well as all proceeds (they've already donated over 10,000 masks to the NHS).
Photo: Rachel Riley
Rachel Riley's signature prints - flowers, anchors, gingham and more - can now be found on fabric face masks, which follow a pattern recommended by France's Grenoble University Hospital and include a cotton satin lining, polyester inner layer and cotton outer. Available in sizes 3+, the masks are £19 each. Parents will be pleased to know they can get matching ones for themselves.
shopDisney in the US has pledged to donate a million masks to vulnerable families and children across the United States, and members of the public can preorder a range of cloth face masks which will be shipping from mid-July.
Kids will recognise their favourite characters from Disney+ films, from Marvel superheroes to princesses, as well as Star Wars favourites, Mickey & Minnie and a range of animal smiles, like Stitch and Winnie the Pooh. Masks are $19.99 for a pack of four, and come in S, M and L sizes.
Etsy has a large selection of kids' face masks in every shape and style: with disposable filters, reversible patterns, bandana silhouettes, ribbon ties and prints from Peppa Pig to skulls to Sonic the Hedgehog (and everything in between).
Photo: Alex + Nova
Alex + Nova
Alex + Nova is an indie US label known for organic cotton separates, sweet baby rompers and cutely printed sweatshirts. The brand has partnered with a manufacturer in South Korea to make organic cotton face masks (£16.23 apiece, or £12.99 if you buy two or more) in white, pink and blue, and well as a gorgeous, printed Mom + Me floral face mask set (£31.66 for three). The kids' masks come in two sizes.
Vistaprint has a selection of Kids' Doodle Masks (£13 each) with prints like dinosaurs, outer space and smiley faces, featuring a pure cotton inner layer and replaceable filter system.
US brand Cubcoats, which has a celeb following thanks to its soft toys which turn into sweatshirts, has an adorable selection of kids' face masks with smiley animal faces, which are $12.99 for two.
Photo: Isabel Manns
Reversible womenswear designer Isabel Manns is making beautifully printed face masks using surplus fabrics. While these aren't available in kids' sizes, we had to include them as they're perfect for teens and their parents, made of cotton or satin, with elasticated ear loops (£10 apiece). All proceeds go to the NHS.
DIY face masks
As parents are trying to teach their children "life skills" (anything to avoid homeschooling at this point!), we're hoping we'll emerge from lockdown with our kids able to cook a meal, load the washing machine and sew on a button. Well, why not a face mask?
Alison Riley of The Fashion Factory has a handy step-by-step video tutorial showing you how to upcycle fabric into a DIY face mask, while Christopher Kane has a DIY mask pattern you can download here (bonus: you can teach the next gen about British fashion greats while in lockdown).
Photo: Mladen Borisov/Unsplash
How to make face masks more palatable to kids
We asked Professor Margareta James, a behavioural and mind management expert at the Harley Street Wellbeing Clinic, for her top tips on how to introduce face masks to children - and encourage them to wear them. If they want customise their face mask with stickers, it could help...
On explaining face masks to children
It needs to be an honest conversation depending on their age and level of understanding. We need to keep away from too much detail as children have an incredible ability to continue thinking about things and fill in details they don’t understand - sometimes by making things scarier than they are. So as long as they understand that it can help keep away illnesses, it's good.
On dealing with uncertainty and anxiety around the virus
They are not in direct danger of the virus in a lockdown situation and they need to understand the importance of hygiene, hand washing when necessary (not too much as I have seen children who were overdoing this!) and keeping a safe distance at the moment. We can also playfully explain the wonderful role our immune system is playing and this relates to what we eat, exercise and sleeping well, so they can understand the importance of a healthy routine. It is an uncertain time for everyone including children, so it is crucial that we help them in the best possible way to understand what is happening, if possible in a playful way.
What to do if a child refuses to wear a mask
If they refuse to wear it - we need to understand why they are protesting. We need to understand their ‘why’ - when we do, then we can gently influence them in understanding why it can be important at the time we are asking them to wear one. However, if children feel uncomfortable wearing a mask - making them wear one can be worse as it increases the likelihood of them touching their faces more! So there is a balance to be found here. The recommendation is that people only wear masks if they are high risk and cannot guarantee to keep themselves at a safe distance from others.
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