Over the past two years, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued complicated—and occasionally contradictory—guidance on whether or not you should wear a mask, depending on if you’re inside, outside, vaccinated, or not vaccinated. In all the confusion, it’s easy to miss one big demographic that remains unvaccinated: Children below age 12 still can’t get the shots at all. They will also soon be returning to school in huge numbers.
I have two young children myself, and watching them acclimate to a mask-wearing climate has been a strange, proud thing. My son entered the pandemic as a mask-resistant 2-year-old. At 4, he now calmly asks for his mask and puts it on before he plays at the playground.
We know that all unvaccinated children over 2 years old should wear face masks in public spaces, which means that if your kids are returning to school, you should be refreshing your face mask stash.
I’ve spent two years putting masks on my kids. These are the ones that have worked best. Don’t take this as my final word, though. I’m continually testing and updating our recommendations, and I also routinely update our guide to the best face masks for adults.
And if you’re looking for ideas to entertain your small (or not-so-small) kids, check out our guides to entertaining preschoolers during quarantine and how to set up a virtual workspace for your kids.
Update August 2021: We added current information, new face masks from Happy Masks and Dr. Puri, and updated our accessory recommendations.
Adrienne So is the main author of this guide. Louryn Strampe also tested and contributed to this guide.
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