Courtesy Cat Bowen

Should Kids Wear Masks In Public? Here's What You Need To Know

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For a long time, Americans were resistant to the idea of wearing masks in public. It was seen as an extreme measure that likely wouldn't help very much. Well, my how the turntables... have turned. Now, we're all wearing masks, and parents are curious: should kids wear masks in public?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a stunning reversal of their guidelines for mask wearing, advising that all citizens over the age of 2 years old should be wearing cloth masks in public at all times until the pandemic has ended. (Whenever that may be.) I spoke with pediatrician Dr. Christian Hietanen to find out how, when, and which children should be abiding by these new guidelines, and he tells Romper, "I think if it’s necessary for a kid older than 2 to go into public (grocery store, etc.), then I think it’s a good idea."

But he cautions that parents should be cognizant of sizing on the masks. "The main thing to be aware of is proper fit, as a child has a smaller face than an adult." He also notes that when they are wearing them, parents should "check in with them often to ensure they are both comfortable and wearing the mask correctly," meaning that it should cover both the nose and the mouth.

There is a big group of children who shouldn't be wearing a mask though, and that is babies and toddlers under the age of 2. Hietanen says, "The main thing is that their breathing may be affected and they cannot verbalize it." They can't tell you if it's too tight, too loose, or if it is making it difficult to breathe. You don't give a blanket to a baby in the crib, so why would you purposely put a small one over their face? It's simply unsafe.

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There are a ton of Etsy sellers right now who make masks to fit little faces, and even more guides online for DIY kids face mask tutorials. We are living in interesting times, and explaining to your child why they now have to wear a mask might be difficult, but if we all do this together, hopefully many more of us can celebrate the victory on the other side.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.