How to get kids used to wearing masks? Experts share tips

Current COVID-19 guidance from the CDC recommends that we wear masks in order to slow the spread of the virus, and that applies to all but the youngest kids.

We got some advice for parents and caregivers on how to get the little ones used to it.

Seeing people wearing masks can be uneasy for children, and getting them to wear them can also be a challenge.

"It's kind of sad to see a beautiful, little, innocent face covered up, her smile covered up," says Laura Swartz, a Center City mom.

Here's how she tackled the mask task for her 6-year-old daughter, Maya.

"We have been trying to choose cute masks, explaining that we're doing it together and normalizing it as much as possible," Swartz says.

She's also been getting some of her favorite friends involved.

"We tell her that even Elsa and Anna have to wear one, everyone has to if they want to go out," she says.

And experts say just that idea of getting out could be incentive enough.

"That's the ticket. Putting the mask on is the ticket to getting out of your home," says Bonnie Marshall, a licensed professional counselor in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Also, make it part of the routine.

"Explain to them that it's like wearing their seat belt," Marshall says. "It's like putting on a winter coat. It's to keep them safe."

Local seamstresses and small shops are also creating whimsical, custom masks just for the little ones, like Sew Much Cooler in Narberth.

"How do you get a three, four or five-year-old to wear a mask? You give them their favorite character or their favorite sport," says Lindsay Gradel, the owner of Sew Much Cooler.

She's released an array of designs and sizes just for kids.

"I get pictures of kids smiling in the streets of Philadelphia," Gradel says, "and they think it's kind of fun."

That same spirit is driving the new designs at Villavillekula in Chestnut Hill.

"We're trying to make it so the kids can choose based on their personality and make it a happy thing for them," says Beth Milley, the owner of Villavillekula.

She's also making a whole line centered around the mask to keep it exciting.

"We're making capes and doll masks now, and skirts and other things to make it just a little bit more dress up and fun," Milley says.

Marshall also says the more effortless parents make it, the more kids will just follow their lead.

Also, Swartz adds that she tells her daughter that this is empowering, it's how we can help ourselves, and others.

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