Trying to pick the best face covering for your child? This guide of 4 masks can help!

By Sandrina Rodrigues/News 12 Digital producer
As parents and children get ready to return to school this fall, their school shopping list may include face cloth coverings and face shields.
My 4-year-old daughter is getting ready for pre-K, so we started the search for the perfect face cloth covering! In addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, I followed these guidelines when picking: the mask needs to be easy to put on, comfortable and needs to stay on during activities.
Here are three masks we liked, and one we didn’t:
Mask 1: Over the head elastic loop
Is it easy to put on/take off? My daughter can put it on, but after a lot of practice. If your kid has long hair, it may be a bit messy. She found it easier when putting hair up in a ponytail. To put on and take off, it was hard for her to avoid touching her face. This might be an easier mask for a child with short hair.
Is it comfortable? Yes. It goes over the head, and doesn’t pinch the ears. And the elastic is adjustable, and replaceable.
Does it stay on during activities (walking/running/playing)? Yes. My daughter has taken many walks with this mask, and it doesn’t come off.
Mask 2: Adjustable ear loops with dust filter pocket
Is it easy to put on/take off? Yes and yes! Again, for kids with longer hair, they’ll have to practice putting it on - putting hair up in a ponytail worked for my daughter. Taking it off by the loops, without touching the face, is very simple.
Is it comfortable? Yes! This mask came with adjustable ear straps and it has a flexible wire nose band for best fit.
Does it stay on during activities (walking/running/playing)? Yes. My daughter has gone on walks and it didn’t come off or bother her.
Mask 3: Ear loops with dust filter pocket
Is it easy to put on/take off? Yes and yes! Taking it off by the loops, without touching the face, is very simple.
Is it comfortable? Yes - but these straps are not adjustable - if you have an older child this may be too small for her/him.
Does it stay on during activities (walking/running/playing)? Yes. My daughter has gone on walks with this one, and it didn’t come off or bother her.
Fail: Mask 4 - Bandana neck gaiter
Although my daughter loves the colors and characters in this bandana neck gaiter, it was not my favorite. It was hard to put on - she needed help to pull it up over her nose. And after going for a walk wearing it, she complained that it was too hot (although we were walking in 80-degree weather). This one also has only one layer of fabric.
Other findings:
Although mask one is made with two layers of thick cotton, it does not have a pocket to insert a filter. Mask two, three and four have pockets for filters, adding an extra layer of protection.
I found that masks with wire nose bands provide the best fit - however make sure you’re adjusting it with freshly washed hands!
Find fun colors/characters! My daughter loves color - so it was important for me to find her masks that compliment that. She is more likely to wear a colorful mask, than a black one.
See photos below of the masks we use:
When choosing a face covering, the CDC says to choose coverings that:
1. Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
2. Completely cover the nose and mouth.
3. Are secured with ties or ear loops.
4. Include multiple layers of fabric.
5. Allow for breathing without restriction.
6. Can be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
Remember to have multiple cloth face coverings, so you can wash them daily and have back-ups ready, the CDC recommends.
It's understandable that children may be afraid of cloth face coverings at first. The American Academy of Pediatrics has these six tips to help your child get comfortable wearing a mask:
1. Look in the mirror with the face coverings on and talk about it.
2. Put a cloth face covering on a favorite stuffed animal.
3. Decorate them so they're more personalized and fun.
4. Show your child pictures of other children wearing them.
5. Draw one on their favorite book character.
6. Practice wearing the face covering at home to help your child get used to it.
Tips so your child doesn’t lose their mask:
1. Label your child’s cloth face coverings clearly in a permanent marker so that they are not confused with those of other children.
2. Another way for your child to not lose their mask - clip the mask to a breakaway lanyard to keep it from getting misplaced. See the video below:
3. Consider providing your child with a container (e.g., labeled resealable bag) to bring to school to store their cloth face coverings when not wearing it (e.g., when eating).
Where to buy:
You can buy cloth face coverings everywhere nowadays. Search Amazon, Etsy, Staples and Target to find a variety of face coverings of every color you can imagine. You can even get them personalized with your child’s name or favorite sports team or tv/movie characters.
Local shops will also have many options. And if you are part of a local Facebook group, ask if anyone locally is making and selling masks - that way you’re also helping your community!
Of course you can make your own (this was a fail for me, despite trying my best). If you would like to learn how to make your own, click here for a CDC guide.