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Guide To Helping Children Wear Face Masks

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We get a lot of questions from parents about their children wearing face masks for COVID-19 protection. For many children, wearing face masks can be daunting or challenging, so we've put together a comprehensive guide to help you and your child stay safe and happy until we can return to normal times.

Are face masks still necessary?
Yes. In many areas of North Carolina, there are still mandates in place that require people to wear face coverings to protect themselves and others around them. With the rise of the new Delta variant, the virus is continuing to spread at an alarming rate, especially for children who have been unable to get a vaccine. Remember, it's possible for people to have COVID-9 without showing any symptoms.

Do children get sick from COVID-19?
Children represent 16.5% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States, according to the Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. Between October 1 and 21, children were 25.1% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases (Note: children under 18 make up 22.2% of the U.S. population).

Although children often don't get as sick as adults when they contract the coronavirus, some kids can become severely ill with the disease, especially if they have an underlying health condition. In some cases, children will need to be hospitalized, treated in the intensive care unit, and hooked up to a ventilator. And in rare cases, children may experience a life-threatening complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome after contracting the virus.

Should children wear face masks?
One of the best ways to help protect your child and other children in your area is to encourage your child to wear a face mask. And, yes, kids who are age 2 and older can wear a face covering safely.

How do I protect my baby who is too young to wear a face covering?
Children younger than 2-years-old can't safely wear a face covering, and babies younger than 1-year-old are more likely to become severely ill with the coronavirus than older children. To protect your child and others, it's best to use additional preventative measures, like social distancing, washing your hands well, wearing your face mask around your newborn, and asking people who come into close contact with your baby to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

When should children wear face coverings?
To protect people who aren't fully vaccinated or are ineligible to receive a vaccine (like children under age 12), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests everyone older than 2 wear a face covering in all indoor public spaces, whether or not they've received a COVID-19 vaccine. Universal indoor masking includes:
● All K-12 schools
● Indoor camps, activities, and sports events (unless your child has certain health conditions)
● Close-contact, outdoor camps, activities, and sports events (unless your child has certain health conditions)
● School buses, trains, planes, and other public transportation
● Airports and train stations
● Restaurants, stores, libraries, and any other public spaces

What's the right way to wear a mask?
Your child's mask should fit snugly over their mouth and nose. If there are large gaps between the mask and your child's face, the covering won't be able to contain the spread of germs. You and your child should wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the mask and avoid touching the mask once it is on your child's face. Remember, it's important to wash and completely dry cloth masks after every use.

What kind of face mask should my kid wear?
For most children, multi-layered cloth masks or child-size, disposable, surgical masks provide sufficient protection. If your child has an underlying health condition, ask your doctor if they'd suggest a different type of mask. Regardless, your child's face covering needs to fit securely on their face.

How can I help my child keep their mask on?
Although we have been wearing masks for a while now, many children still struggle to keep their face coverings on. Here are some ways you can help:
● Stand with your child in front of a mirror with face masks on and talk about it
● Practice wearing masks at home
● Take small steps, rewarding your child when they wear their mask for short periods of time while doing something they enjoy
● Place masks on your kid's favorite stuffed animals
● Draw masks on your child's favorite book characters
● Lead by example — when kids see their parents and siblings wearing face masks, they will feel more comfortable (and maybe even be excited) to wear their own mask
● Let your child pick their own fun mask(s) and/or have fun decorating them together
● For children younger than 3, explain it to them simply. Here's how that may look:
     ○ "Sometimes, we need to wear masks to keep everyone healthy."
     ○ "It's like the rule that we have to wear shoes when we go to the store or school."

● For children older than 3, focus on germs. Here's how that may look:
     ○ "Germs are special to our own bodies. Everyone has them; some are good, and some are bad. The bad ones can make you sick, but we can't tell which germs are bad. We wear masks to block those germs from spreading to other people."

Have any unanswered COVID-19 or mask-wearing questions? Give us a call at 910-763-2476 (Wilmington) or 910-777-2013 (Hampstead), or reach out to us through the Carolina Pediatrics patient portal.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ROUTINE WELL-CHILD CHECKS

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Wilmington Office

Address:
715 Medical Center Drive
Wilmington, NC  28401

Phone: (910)763-2476
FAX: (910)763-8176

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Hampstead Office

Address:
16747 US HWY 17N, Suite 114 Hampstead, NC  28443

Phone: (910) 777-2013
FAX: (910) 821-1060

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