Author: Dr. Atish Laddad
Pandemic, social distancing, face masks, safety shields, and above all the novel coronavirus are the only phrases that seem to be permanently engraved into our dictionary in the present times. Safety masks in the current situation have added more important than ever and have become an inevitable part of our day-to-day life. The on-going health calamity has jolted the entire economy and disturbed lives in many ways than one. However, as we grasp the new normal by entering into the unlock phase, cities and states have slowly begun to reopen.
With people gradually assembling the courage to step out in public, there has been a whole lot of debate about the practice of face masks these days. This is since the conclusion about who is recommended to wear them, and when, is not yet clear, specifically in the case of kids. To mask or not to mask children is a major concern amongst parents and guardians. The only answer to this quire is that it all depends upon their age group. It is pointless to say that COVID-19 is mainly spread from being respired in, and effectively covering our faces averts an uncovered sneeze or cough from spreading into the air to those surrounding us. Kids falling under the immunocompromised state with growing immunity levels can be easily prone to the virus, hence parents must ramp up safety measures while you get your little ones in public. For children falling under the age bracket of 2 and under, wearing a mask is not suggested. This is because little ones in this age range fail to reliably adjust or remove their mask if at all breathing becomes challenging. For these children, unhindered inhalation takes precedence over covering up. For kids above two years of age, a mask would be useful only if they can manage it and want to wear it. Your toddler might sometime tend to get very uneasy with the mask, trying to touch their nose and mouth more often. If your kid is feeling uneasy wearing the mask, washing and sanitizing hands often is your best protection.
Kids may be unable to understand why they have to wear a mask or may not comprehend the right way to wear it. Wearing a safety mask may surely seem weird to toddlers right now, mostly because they don’t realize its importance. But parents can make it less difficult, less scary, or uncomfortable by making wearing a mask around the boundaries of a home as a regular practice. This will make them adapt to mask-wearing even when they are in public, thus making them less uneasy. Parents can also encourage them to get comfortable with the mask by playing fun games explaining to them about the importance of mask-wearing in present times. Try giving them a mask to play with, as it may ease in reducing their fears. While buying masks for toddlers, parents must consider picking up a fabric that is kid-friendly, such as their preferred cartoon character, sports team, or their favourite colour. Children can also be made to wear cloth face coverings while going to places where they may be unable to avoid staying six feet away from others. For instance, if you have to take them to the pediatrician, pharmacy, or to the grocery store. While you select on a mask, ensure it fits the child securely, mostly around the nose and mouth, and making sure it covers the chin. If your child tends to be uncomfortable due to the elastic around the ears, an effective alternative for parents would be to make use of a bandanna or scarf around the mouth and nose. This may be less scary for younger babies who may be frightened of the face mask or covering. Before you and your child heading out in public, you need to ensure that the kid has practiced wearing the mask at home. This will ease the toddlers to get comfortable wearing the mask and learn how to wear it correctly.
Based on the evidence, kids are less likely to fall sick from COVID-19 and even if they do, their cases are typically mild. But prevention is better than cure. To protect our children and ourselves against falling trap to COVID-19, it is a harmless bet to always cover mouth and nose whenever you step outside.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are those of the author; they do not necessarily reflect the views of MediaCatalyst.
About the Author
The author, Dr. Atish Laddad, is the Director and Founder at Docterz, a child healthcare digital platform which aims to create nuance-based health tech solutions.