For nearly 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. In many parts of the country, they’ve also returned to school in large numbers (or not, as the case may be).
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. Unvaccinated children over 2 years old should wear face masks in public spaces, which means that if your kids have gone back to school, you probably need to refresh your face mask stash.
I’ve spent almost two years testing 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 Best Face Masks for Adults guide. 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.
Updated September 2021: We added current information and new face masks from Vida, Armbrust American, and Kitsbow.
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