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 Omicron cases in Australia, it is mandatory for everyone over the age of 12 to wear masks or face coverings in all public indoor settings as well as on public transport.

Variations include Victoria, which mandates masks from the of age 8, and in WA, while Perth and Peel follow the same restrictions, people in greater WA only need masks at airports and while flying.

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

Children under 12 are exempt (under 8, in Victoria) 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.

The World Health Organization (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.

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.

WHO recommends that children under the age of five should only wear a facemask when closely supervised by an adult, and kids under the age of two should not wear a face covering due to choking and strangulation risks.

According to WHO, cloth masks need to have three layers in order to be effective: an absorbent inner layer, a middle layer to act as a filter, and a non-absorbent outer layer. Children who are generally in good health can wear fabric or non-medical masks.

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 – see below! There are many tutorials online and please make sure to follow the following guidelines from the Australian Goverment when 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 snugly and 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 8 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.

Kids Quirky Masks, pack of 6, 0n special $44.95 (RRP $119.95)

Made from polyester with a 100% cotton lining, these patterned, skin-friendly, non-surgical masks have adjustable nose bridge and straps are great for back to school. The six-pack includes monkeys, doughnuts, unicorns, lollipops, space pizza and mac and cheese designs.

Cotton On Foundation Face Masks, $9.99 (special offer 3 for $20)

Choose from more than a dozen colours and patterns made from 100% cotton and know that while you’re keeping your child safe, 100% of the proceeds go towards the Cotton On Foundation’s work to empower young people through education and access to healthcare. Suitables for ages 4 to 10.

Bright Star Kids Face Masks, $19.95 (includes free personalisation)

These super cute, smooth and comfy face masks are perfect for preschool and kindy kids. Washable and reusable, they’re made from 100% two-ply white polyester and have adjustable earbands. Your little one will love the choice of patterns that includes tractors, rainbows, owls, butterflies, bikes and skateboards. The free personalisation means that it’s easy to keep track of whose masks is whose – winning!