[Skip to Content]

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Kids and Masks

Even as more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, health experts recommend we keep wearing masks in public. It's a proven way to help stop the spread of the virus.

How Do Masks Help?

COVID-19 can spread when people breathe, talk, cough, or sneeze. Wearing a mask keeps the virus from reaching others. It also can stop the virus from reaching you. If everyone wears a mask when they're out in public, fewer people will get sick.

Who Shouldn't Wear a Mask?

Most of us can and should wear masks when in public. But some people cannot, including:

  • children younger than 2 years old
  • someone who is sick and has trouble breathing
  • anyone who can't take a mask off without help
  • people with some types of cognitive, developmental, or behavioral conditions

What Can Help Kids When They Wear Masks?

Most kids are now used to seeing people in masks. Still, some toddlers and young children may feel uneasy about it. Masks hide part of a person's face, so kids can't see the friendly smile or familiar look that usually puts them at ease. When kids can't see the person's whole face, it's harder to feel safe. It's natural to feel scared.

Parents can help by explaining why they might need to wear a mask at school, childcare, and other public places. Even very young kids can learn that something that seemed scary at first is not scary after all.

To help kids wear masks when you go out:

  • Teach kids how to put masks on and take them off. Remind them that masks should always cover the nose and mouth.
  • Make it fun and personal. You can find fun, colorful masks in many stores. Looks for ones with superhero characters, movie favorites, silly faces, or animal prints. Kids might opt for a plain mask that they can decorate with markers, stickers, beads, or sequins. A personal touch can help make masks a more normal part of their routine.

For more information about masks, visit the CDC's guide.

Date reviewed: March 2021