It can be challenging to know which face masks for kids are safe and effective. Should you buy disposable masks or a reusable cloth version? Maybe you should skip the mask buying altogether and make your own?
For a parent who is simply trying to look out for their child’s best interest, it’s hard to know what to do sometimes. Here’s everything you need to know about finding the best face masks for kids. We’ll tell you to choose them, how to make them, and share 20 face mask recommendations so you don’t have to research them.
- Should Kids Wear Face Masks?
- What If My Kids Don’t Want to Wear Masks?
- Types of Face Masks for Kids
- How to Choose the Best Face Masks for Kids
- The Best Kids Face Masks of 2020
- How Do You Make a Child-Friendly Face Mask?
- What Are the Measurements for a Child’s Face Mask?
- Who Knew We’d Be Buying Kids’ Face Masks?
Should Kids Wear Face Masks?
Masks help to reduce the spread of infection in two ways. First, they decrease the chance of the wearer inhaling any germs in the air. Secondly, they can limit other people’s chances of breathing in any germs the wearer may have (1).
This is important because it’s possible to spread germs to others without knowing you have an infection.
Children under the age of 2 years old should not wear masks. Neither should any children who would be unable to remove a mask by themselves (2). Apart from that, assuming your child does not have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one, all children can wear masks.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
What If My Kids Don’t Want to Wear Masks?
What’s the point of buying the best kids’ face masks if your child won’t wear them? If your child is being stubborn about wearing a mask, there are plenty of things you can do to help persuade them.
Be A Role Model
The most important thing you can do is to be a good role model if your child does not want to wear a mask. Let your child see you wearing your mask without complaint, and let them hear you compliment other people who wear a mask.
In addition, you can look for photos or footage of people your child admires wearing a mask.
Choose Masks Together
A child who has helped to choose their own mask is more likely to wear it.
If you cannot find something that appeals to your child, then consider making your own. It is surprisingly easy, and you don’t need any fancy sewing machines or skills.
If you don’t have the time, the skills, or the motivation to make a mask from scratch, do what I did and buy masks in plain colors and add some iron-on transfers with your child’s favorite character.
Explain The “Why”
Using age-appropriate language, tell your child why we wear masks and how it is important to help others not to become ill. But, be sure to avoid saying anything that might scare your child or trying to guilt them into wearing one.
Instead, use something they can relate to, such as: “By wearing a mask, you are helping your teacher and friends stay healthy so they won’t miss school.”
Encourage your child to wear a mask at home until they get used to the feel of it on their face. Have your little one wear the mask while they are reading, playing, watching television, or engaging in any other activity that will keep their mind off the fact they have a mask on.
Start small by having your child wear a mask for five minutes. Then you can gradually lengthen the time. That helps them get used to the sensation of wearing one.
Make It Fun
Consider putting masks on your child’s favorite toys. If you don’t have any to spare, or their doll, stuffed animal, or action figure is too small for a proper mask, improvise.
We made some “masks” out of paper towels and rubber bands, then put them onto all of the stuffed animals. Not one of the stuffed animals complained, so our little one decided it might be okay to wear a mask after all.
Types of Face Masks for Kids
No matter which type of mask you choose, it’s critical that the mask fits correctly. Masks should be snug all around and sit against the face, without gaps. They should cover the mouth and the nose.
Cloth Face Masks
The material a cloth face mask is made from is critical. A mask should be made from tightly woven cotton such as the fabric used for quilting or thicker cotton sheets.
They should also be made of at least two layers of material. If you can find triple layers, that’s even better.
Face Masks with Filters
Masks with filters offer more protection for both the wear and other people, as long as the mask fits well and is made from a suitable material. Filters should be changed according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. A common type you’ll see while mask shopping is an activated carbon filter.
Disposable Face Masks
Not all disposable masks, also called medical or surgical masks, are equal. They come in a variety of thicknesses and layers.
While disposable face masks are useful, especially if your child is prone to taking off their mask and losing it, they are not as good as a decent cloth mask.
One study into the comparative effectiveness of cloth vs. disposable masks showed that a good quality cloth mask provided 79 percent filtration as opposed to disposable surgical masks, which provided 62 to 65 percent filtration (3).
Plastic face shields may offer some protection to the wearer if they have to get close to someone who may have an infection, but they do not provide much in the way of protection for anyone other than the wearer (4). If you cough or sneeze, the droplets can get out, infecting someone else if you’re sick.
It is not recommended that children wear face shields.
Face Masks with Neck Coverings/Bandanas
Wearing neck gaiters to prevent the spread of infection may be worse than not wearing anything. Bandanas are only slightly better than not wearing a mask at all (5). You’re better off skipping these types of masks and getting disposable or fitted cloth ones instead.
N95 Face Mask for Kids
There is a limit to the number of N95 masks that can be made in a day. As a result, the CDC’s current recommendation is that the supply of N95 masks should be reserved for those professionals who need them for work (6). That means it is recommended that children not wear N95 masks.
How to Choose the Best Face Masks for Kids
There are a lot of great masks out there, but there are also many of them that don’t do much good at all. When you are choosing a face mask, either for yourself or for a child, these are the things you should consider so you purchase a good one.
Face masks should have at least two and preferably three layers.
The mask should be of a size and shape that will completely cover the wearer’s nose and mouth, coming down over the chin. The mask should also be snug against your chin, your nose, and the sides of your face, without any gaps.
Nobody should wear masks with exhalation valves, as these can let particles of virus escape.
The style of the mask does not matter as much as its size and the material. You can narrow down some kid-friendly options that are based on the necessary safety measures a mask should have. Then you can let your child pick the one they want from the list of top candidates you’ve assembled.
The biggest problem with face mask comfort seems to be the ear loops.
Cloth ear loops are usually not an issue, but elastic loops can become uncomfortable, especially after prolonged use. If your child finds ear loops a problem, try one of the ear savers that are now readily available.
The smaller your child, the more critical it is they use a child-size mask. Face masks are most effective when they fit snugly against the face. This close fit can be difficult to achieve when a child wears an adult mask.
Ease of Wearing
Make it as easy as possible for your child to wear their mask by avoiding the style that is tied behind the head.
Instead, look for loops that are easy to hook over the ears.
Children under the age of 2 should not wear any type of face mask, including face shields.
If your child has any type of medical condition or disability that prevents them from removing one themselves, then they, too, should go without a mask.
There is also a lot of well-meaning advice that suggests having your child attach their mask to a lanyard will minimize the chance of them losing it. However, there have been instances of children suffering injuries as a result of accidental choking while wearing a lanyard. They are best avoided for younger children.
You can safely wash a cloth mask in your washing machine with your regular laundry, as long as you use the highest temperature setting for the fabric (7). Masks can also be dried on the highest setting in your dryer or air-dried.
After washing and drying, check your mask to ensure the ear loops are still securely attached, and that none of the fabric has become loose or frayed.
Some face masks support charities and other entities either by donating a portion of the profits or by giving masks directly to organizations that need them.
If you want to use your face mask purchase to support a good cause in this way, be sure to inquire exactly how much will go to the organization.
The Best Kids Face Masks of 2020
Using all of this information, we’ve worked hard to find the 20 best face masks for kids. We’ve categorized the masks to make it easier to locate a great one for your child.
1. Weddingstar Kids’ Washable Face Mask
We particularly like this face mask for kids because it can be used either with or without a filter. Using it with the filter provides five layers of protection but, if you forget the filter or run out of them, using it without still gives you two layers.
In addition, they are sized specifically for children, and there are 32 colors and designs to choose from. The ear loops are adjustable, so they fit a range of ages, and the nose piece can be molded to the bridge of the nose.
2. MyFunkins Reusable Cloth Face Masks
With two layers of tight weave cotton and seven patterns to choose from, these kids’ face masks from MyFunkins are both fun and appropriate for day-to-day use.
The soft cotton ear loops are adjustable, and there is an adjustable nose wire, which together makes it easier to get a good, snug fit.
These masks are shaped, and the maker recommends them for kids from 3 to 9 years old. The same company makes another size, in the same fabrics, for older kids and adults.
3. Kids’ Single-Use Disposable Face Mask
Once you ignore the many fake reviews and ratings, these are popular and highly rated disposable face masks for kids.
Each box has 50 masks, with four different patterns. They are three-layered and come with a basic, yet comfortable enough, elastic ear loop.
Some people complain of a chemical smell from the masks, but we found them to be no more and no less “smelly” than any of the other disposable, surgical style masks we tried.
4. Kids' 3-Pack Loony Tunes Face Mask
The masks have two layers, and there is a filter pocket if you would like to add an extra layer of protection.
At 5 inches high and 7.5 inches tall, these are a good option for the 10 and under age group, but they are not a comfortable fit for anyone bigger.
5. Cubcoats Kids’ Convertible 2-in-1 Face Mask
Cubcoat Kids are known for their adorable, converting hoodies. Now they’ve taken the same concept and applied it to kids’ face masks.
These masks turn inside out and fold up to become cute animal faces with a wrist strap on the back. Your child can then use the strap and wear the mask on their wrist until it is needed again.
The mask’s cotton feels soft against the face, and the thick, woven, elastic loops are gentle on the backs of little ears.
6. 3-Ply Breathable Face Masks For Kids
These are a standard three-ply disposable mask with elastic earloops and a bendable nose piece. They come in a box of 50, and you can either choose a package with a variety of patterns or 50 of the same mask. There are a lot of fun kid-friendly patterns to choose from, such as rockets, planets, dinosaurs, and rainbows.
At 3.7 inches by 5.7 inches, they are at the smaller end of the size spectrum, but then the patterns are unlikely to appeal to bigger kids, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
7. USA Kid Children’s Face Masks
Made from 100 percent cotton quilting fabric, these masks are made with two layers of fabric and have a filter pocket for added assurance. The thick, woven elastic ear loops are comfortable, and the cotton of the mask itself remains soft, even after multiple washes.
When you buy this mask, it comes with five filters that the listing says are made from the same material as medical-grade filters. They also say you will achieve 99 percent filtration efficiency, but this is not a claim we can verify.
8. Access Denied Kids’ Reusable Face Mask
Made of a cotton, spandex blend, they may not have the most effective filtration, but if you are struggling to find a suitable mask, this is a soft and stretchy option that a lot of kids find easy to tolerate.
Choose from either a dog with a bone, a bear, or a dog with its tongue hanging out, or pick up a pack of all five. And if your child doesn’t fancy that, this L.A.-based company also produces butterfly and heart styles.
9. Cat & Jack Kids’ Cloth Face Masks
For kids who are too physically big for the smaller kids’ face masks, but not yet ready to plunge into a world of boring adult masks, there are these options from Cat and Jack at Target.
With two layers of cotton, a softer elastic ear loop, and a bendable nose wire, these face masks are easy and comfortable to wear. There is a filter pocket, but filters are not included.
The masks come in packs of two, and you can choose from a variety of fun patterns and colors.
10. iUptown Chic Kids’ Face Masks
With three layers of 100 percent cotton fabric and elastic ear loops that have adjusters for a great fit, these masks are so cute you’ll want one for yourself. You’ll be out of luck, though, because these well-made, shaped masks are specifically for 5- to 10-year-olds, and they won’t be stretching to fit an adult’s head.
The masks are machine washable and come out of the laundry as bright and well-shaped as when they went in.
11. ICU Health Kids’ Mask with Zebra Pouch
If you have kids, like mine, that make an art form out of forgetting things, then ICU’s pouch pack might be just what you are looking for.
The pack comes with ten standard, plain blue surgical style masks that are sized for kids from 5 to 10 years. However, what made this pack a winner in my eyes is that it comes with a zippered pouch designed to hold all ten masks.
This is wonderful for leaving in the backpack of your forgetful child, so they’ll never be without a mask at school.
12. Billboard Cutie Cotton Fashion Kids’ Mask
These masks are made of good quality, 100 percent cotton, with three layers and adjustable ear straps. They are machine washable, and you can also tumble dry them.
However, they made this list for another reason.
The masks are handmade, cut, and sewn by a stay-at-home mom or a woman who has been laid off of work. Therefore, each mask you buy provides a little work and income for a woman who needs help. We’re all about moms helping one another.
13. Cartoon Bears Cotton Mask
With a little cartoon bear on one side of the mask, and the bear’s little socks hanging on a laundry line on the other, this face mask is likely to appeal to the youngest of mask wearers.
There are two layers of 100 percent cotton fabric. The elastic ear loops are adjustable for a close and yet comfortable fit. The mask comes with two filters that can be inserted into the filter pocket, although the mask can also be used without the filter in place.
14. Two-Pack Plain Cloth Face Masks
For the tween who is far too grown-up for childish things, there are these kids’ face masks from Target. Made from two layers of cotton, they have a filter pocket but are not sold with filters, so you will have to buy those separately.
They are the right size for kids between about 9 to 12 years old. The elastic ear loops ensure the masks stay firmly against the face without becoming uncomfortable.
15. Crayola Kids Face Mask
If you have a child who does not want to wear a face mask, consider picking up both the adult and child sizes of these brightly colored masks from Crayola. That way, you and your little one will match, which might give them extra incentive to wear their mask.
The masks come with name tags and a mesh laundry bag, which makes it easy to throw them in the laundry and keep track of whose mask is whose. Meanwhile, the adjustable ear loops of the kids’ versions make them suitable for little ones from 4 years old up to kids of about 10.
16. Wild Republic Wild Smiles Face Mask
In our home, we love the look of these kids’ face masks from Wild Republic. There was no problem getting any of the little ones to put on a mask if it meant they could have sharp, pointy teeth and an animal grin.
The downsides are that, although they fit well, there isn’t a noseband for you to shape to your child’s nose, the ear loops are not elastic, and the fabric is a poly-cotton blend rather than 100 percent cotton, although there are two layers.
17. Martex Health Face Mask
With a standard size, style, and shape, the Martex Health face mask is a reasonable choice for your older kids, especially as the three-pack is the same price as many single masks.
Another cotton-poly blend mask, these make up for the fact they are not 100 percent cotton by having a three-layer construction. There isn’t a filter pocket, and the elastic ear loops are not adjustable. It is for these reasons the masks are not further up on the list.
18. La Textilerie Kids’ Face Mask
At 2.9 inches by 5.5 inches, the La Textilerie masks are a good fit for the 10 years and under age group, although the seller lists them as suitable for kids between 4 to 12 years.
Made of 100 percent super soft cotton, the masks come in pairs, with two different patterns in each pack. However, the downside is that the masks are treated with silver ions, which not every parent is going to like. Another thing parents may not like is that these have to be handwashed, otherwise they’ll shrink in the washing machine.
19. Buttonsmith Child Cotton Face Mask
Buttonsmith is a trusted U.S. company that produces face masks for adults, youth, and kids.
The masks are made with two layers of 100 percent cotton fabric, and they come in either black or white.
Sizing aside, there are a variety of mask styles available, so be careful to not just choose the correct size, but also the style you want. Some of the masks have filter pockets, and others have adjustable ear loops, but they do not make a mask that has both.
20. Snoozies Kids’ Face Mask
Snoozies makes three-layered face masks that come in either ages 2 to 4 years or ages 5 to 10 years. You are likely to find a mask that is just the right size for your child without having to adjust any ear loops.
These have flexible metal nose pieces so you get a better fit. You’ll also receive filters for added protection. Plus, these masks are machine washable, which makes things easier for parents.
How Do You Make a Child-Friendly Face Mask?
You do not need any sewing skills to make a child friendly face-mask. This straightforward tutorial takes you through each of the steps.
What Are the Measurements for a Child’s Face Mask?
The exact size of a child’s face mask will depend on the size of the child for whom the mask is made. However, approximately 5.5 inches x 9.5 inches is a good average for kids.
Who Knew We’d Be Buying Kids’ Face Masks?
Buying a suitable face mask is something that is new for most of us. It is difficult to know what to look for between the ever-evolving scientific advice and the cascade of informed and uninformed information.
That’s why we put together this guide. It’s an unbiased, evidence-backed piece that gives you clear criteria for mask shopping.