Do children need to wear a face mask? And how do you convince your child to wear one? And where do you buy one?

These questions and more are just some of the questions crossing the minds of many Australian parents right now.

Following the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in New South Wales, it is now mandatory for everyone in Greater Sydney (which includes Wollongong, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains), over the age of 12, to wear masks or face coverings in public indoor settings.

Police in NSW can issue $200 on-the-spot fines for individuals who are caught not wearing a face covering in certain spaces.

Face masks are also mandatory in public indoor spaces in Victoria unless you have a lawful reason not to.

Children under 12 are exempt as are those who have trouble breathing in a mask, cannot remove a mask without assistance and those who assist the deaf and use their mouth for communication.

As COVID-19 cases continue to pop up around the country, many parents are trying their best to keep their children safe by getting them a face mask to wear in public.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued guidance saying that children over the age of 12 should wear masks where social distancing practices are not possible, for example on the school bus.

It admits little is known about how children transmit the virus but cites evidence that teenagers can infect others in the same way as adults. As such, wearing a mask is not only encouraged but mandatory in places like Melbourne.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all kids older than two wear a face mask in public to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Children who are two-years-old and under should never wear a face covering due to choking and strangulation risks.

According to the World Health Organization, cloth masks need to have 3 layers in order to be effective: an absorbent inner layer, a middle layer to act as a filter, and a non-absorbent outer layer.

How to make a cloth face mask

You can also use a scarf or bandana instead of a face covering.  You can also make your own cloth face masks. There are many tutorials online and please make sure to follow the following guidelines from the Australian Govermentwhen wearing masks to ensure it follows health protocols:

  • Wash or sanitise your hands before putting it on or taking it off
  • Make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
  • Do not touch the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
  • Do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
  • Do not reuse single use masks
  • Wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean dry place.

Fitting a face mask

The CDC has outlined five criteria to keep in mind when fitting a face mask.

  1. Face masks should fit snuglyand comfortably
  2. They must be secured with ties or ear loops
  3. They should comprise multiple fabric layers
  4. You should be able to breathe without restriction while wearing the face mask
  5. You should be able to wash the face masks without causing damage or losing the face mask’s shape

Face masks for kids should also be easy to remove and your child should be able to breathe unhindered.

Talking with children about face masks

If your child is not convinced about wearing a face mask, Raising Children, suggests following these steps.

Make time to talk about face masks

The best time to talk about face masks is when you can give your child your full attention. This could be at dinner, bath time, or bedtime. If you can, have a mask ready to show your child.

Use a calm, reassuring and positive tone

If you sound calm and reassuring when you talk with your child about face masks, your child is more likely to feel safe and secure.

Find out what your child knows

Start by asking your child what they know about face masks, whether they’ve seen people wearing face masks and whether they have any questions.

Explain face masks in a way your child understands

This is about sticking to the facts and focusing on the positives. For example: ‘When we talk, breathe, cough and sneeze, snot and saliva can come out of our nose and mouth. Face masks can stop the snot and saliva getting on other people. It’s best to keep snot and saliva to ourselves!’

Tune into your child’s feelings about face masks
Ask your child how they’re feeling and listen to what your child says. Let your child know that their feelings are OK.

In Victoria, it is now mandatory for people over 12 to wear a face mask in public. However, many parents are encourage their younger children to also wear a mask. Please note, face masks are not recommended for little ones who are two-years-old and under.

Where to buy cloth face masks for kids

Here’s where you can buy a kids face mask in Australia…

Clear Collective, Valve Cotton Kids Face Mask, $44.95

Clear Collective has comfortable face masks for kids in a variety of different colours. Their Valve Masks create less condensation within the mask and surrounding face area. The masks are washable, have three layers and are suitable for kids 3-10 years old.

StitchAndThyme, Kids washable 3 Layer Face Mask with filter pocket, $24.95

This fitted mask sits comfortably on the face with no bunching. The mask is three layers of tightly woven 100 percent cotton and is easily breathable. In between the layers is a filter pocket and a specifically designed PM2.5 mask filter is included free with every mask purchased. This is the type of filter recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Officeworks – Kids Denim Face Mask Black, $29.99 

It’s designed to shield you from dust and particles with its tri-layered construction. It’s reusable, preventing waste build up from disposable masks. The fit is adjustable so you can wear it comfortably.

Etsy Kid Mask With Filter Pocket Washable Cotton Face Mask, $20

The reusable face masks with nose wires come in adult and kid sizes and come in a range of adorable fabrics.