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Face masks for children: the best face coverings for kids

New government advice recommends wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We've put together a list of the best and most comfortable face masks for children.

By Tina Williams | Last updated Jul 15, 2021

Mum helping child with a face mask

New government advice recommends wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We've put together a list of the best and most comfortable face masks for children.

Government advice encourages people to wear face masks when they’re in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and when they’re in close contact with people who they don’t usually meet, for example in shops or on public transport.

Everyone 11 and over must wear a mask in shops and on public transport (bus, train, plane and ferries).

Wearing a face covering is also strongly encouraged in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing is difficult and where you come into contact with people you don't normally meet.

Children under 11, those travelling with someone who lip-reads and people with disabilities or breathing problems don't need to wear a face mask. Public Health England (PHE) states that children under the age of three should not wear face coverings or masks as these are potentially dangerous and can cause choking and suffocation.

Secondary school pupils must wear face masks in school corridors in local lockdown areas of England. Face coverings don't need to be worn in classrooms.

In Scotland, everyone over the age of five needs to wear a face covering if they’re using public transport (including taxis), but those under the age of five and those with medical conditions are exempt.

It's mandatory to wear a face mask on public transport in Northern Ireland or Wales. The use of face coverings in certain indoor settings, such as shops, is also required in Northern Ireland.

Why should you wear a face mask?

Wearing a face mask won’t stop the spread of coronavirus, but it can reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. They’re not designed to help the wearer but, instead, will reduce the risk of you passing the virus on if you have the disease but aren’t showing any symptoms.

The government guidelines say that reusable fabric masks are sufficient for the general public and that medical face masks should be saved for healthcare professionals. Lots of companies have sprung up to meet the ever-growing demand, but you don't need to splash out on one if you don't want to. You can make your own face mask using a T-shirt or some cotton fabric. There are guidelines on how to do this on the government website.

Don’t forget, face masks are just one tool in reducing the spread of the disease. Regular handwashing and social distancing will also be effective.

When should children wear a face mask?

Face masks should only be worn by children who are able to put them on and take them off by themselves. Children under three and those with respiratory conditions shouldn’t wear them. And while there’s no need for children to wear them at school or at home, you may decide to use them if you need to take public transport regularly.

What to look for when buying a face mask for children

If you decide to buy one for your child, make sure the mask fits snuggly under their chin and over their nose and that the ear straps are comfortable. Removable filters aren’t essential, but some find it easier to breathe in a mask with a filter than a mask with multiple layers of fabric.

We searched the internet and consulted Mumsnet users to find the best places to buy face masks for children.

1. Not Just Clothing face masks for kids, £15

Not Just Clothing face masks for kids

These premium, lightweight face masks are designed to provide maximum comfort and style without compromising on protection. Using Diolen hygienic material (the kind you find in trainers), they’re soft, breathable and mould to your nose and chin.

What’s more, 50% of profits raised from face mask sales will be donated to the Masks For NHS Heroes initiative, which is still purchasing essential PPE for frontline workers.

2. Hype Kids Face Masks, three for £25

Hype Kids Face Masks

Just Hype offers a wide selection of printed reusable face masks for children, teens and adults. Made from 90% polyester, these masks are breathable and machine-washable. And with every purchase of their mask sets, they’re donating a surgical mask to a key worker in need.

“The Just Hype face masks are cool, but the ones for kids are tiny. I’ve got a small nine-year-old and they're tight on him.”

3. Gees Active Face Masks, four for £25

Gees Active Face Masks

These kids and adult face masks are tied on using a Velcro loop behind your neck and are ideal for children who wear glasses or find ear loops uncomfortable. There’s a padded nose bar, which can be adjusted to fit the contour of your nose, and the polyester fabric means the masks are soft, very breathable and, most importantly, machine-washable.

There’s also a pocket where you can add in a filter if you want additional protection.

“I bought the Gees Active face masks. By themselves, they don't offer a lot of protection, but I then bought filters that last 12 hours that you insert inside. The mask was fairly hot to wear, but you can adjust the nose piece to fit so that it’s snug, and the filter I got was FFP2 Standard. But I live with someone clinically vulnerable, so I wanted something that would be good enough for them too.”

4. Barkoiesy Bandanas Kids Face Mask, two for £8

Barkoiesy Bandanas Kids Face Mask

Barkoiesy bandanas are made from a soft, swimming costume-like material and come with removable filters for added protection. Without ear loops, they’re easy for smaller children to handle and come in eight fun designs.

5. Vistaprint Face Masks, £13

Vistaprint Face Masks

In a surprising twist of events, stationery company Vistaprint have reallocated resources to making face coverings for adults and children.

There are hundreds of options to choose from and each mask comes with a replaceable filter system that can be rewashed. They have a cotton anti-allergenic inner layer, a three-dimensional chin structure, adjustable straps and a nose bridge for comfort. While they are on the pricier end of the spectrum, there are so many designs on offer you're bound to find one to please even the fussiest of teens.

Don’t forget to buy more filters when you order your masks. Vistaprint recommends changing the filter after 12 hours of use.

For every reusable mask bought, Vistaprint is also pledging to give 10% of sales to local communities impacted by the pandemic.

6. Cotton Cartoon Animal Masks, two for £14

Cotton Cartoon Animal Masks

These cute cotton face masks are made from soft material perfect for smaller children. They’re designed with an adjustable nose bridge and hook strap so you should be able to adjust the mask enough to make it comfortable to wear. Each pack comes with two masks and four removable filters.

7. Face Masks, from £6

Etsy face masks

There are a variety of sellers on Etsy offering handmade facemasks designed especially for children. Boutique Vintage Rose offers well-made children’s masks in a good selection of designs.

Unlike some designs, these aren’t structured masks that mould around your face. Instead, they’re made from more breathable fabric to offer a close fit. The simple pleated design also offers the opportunity to add in a filter for added protection.

“There are lots of homemade ones being sold on Etsy at various prices. My local FB group has people offering them too. You can also make your own fairly easily, even without being able to sew.”

How to Wear a Non-Medical Face Mask

  • Before touching the face mask, wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and warm water. You can also use hand sanitiser with a minimum of 60% alcohol base.
  • Make sure hair is tucked away from your face.
  • Place the mask over your face, covering your mouth and nose, then put the loops behind your ears. Adjust if you need to. Make sure the nose and mouth are fully covered.
  • Avoid touching your face while wearing the mask. If you do touch the mask, wash your hands straight away.

How to Remove a Non-Medical Face Mask

  • Before removing the face mask, wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and warm water. You can also use hand sanitiser with a minimum of 60% alcohol base.
  • Remove the face mask one loop at a time from behind your ears.
  • Don’t touch the front of the face mask when you’re removing it.
  • Place the face mask somewhere secure if you’re not home – a plastic bag should do the trick.
  • If you’re at home and planning to reuse your mask, wash according to the manufacturer's instructions before wearing it again.
  • Wash your hands once you’ve removed your mask.

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