What you need to know about masking and toddlers
Do try to practice, be patient, and consistent.
This pandemic started when Ryaan was three months old and I NEVER thought we would need to be masking a toddler.
I thought this pandemic would be over by now.
Not all two-year olds will be perfect mask wearers.
I wish the mask requirements on flights, etc. would be closer to four years of age as I believe the mask mandates for 2-4 year olds are not always easy.
So, do your best.
Do try to practice, be patient, and consistent when it comes to your kiddos wearing masks. They CAN learn to do it, just like putting on a jacket or socks.
If they rip it off and refuse to put it back on? You do your best and I hope people can understand the situation given the age and their development.
We started practicing around 23 months and our toddler is finally wearing a mask! But, let me tell you: there were MANY moments where I thought it would never happen. He would rip it off immediately, yell “NO!!!” and run away.
But here were are a month later, with a toddler who asks for his mask when we go into Barnes and Noble.
Here are some tips to practice mask wearing with your toddler:
- Model it yourself. They will not learn unless they see their caregiver do it, too. This is also important in pretty much everything we are trying to teach our kids!
- Practice in the home by putting it on one of their favorite stuffed animals. Put a mask on their teddy bear and one on them and allow them to play with them on.
- Wear a mask and have them wear a mask and show them how they look in a mirror. Point out how great they are doing and use positive reinforcement.
- Have them wear it while they watch their favorite show. “If you want to watch Cocomelon, you have to wear your mask.” When they realize they have to wear it in order to a favorite activity, they will learn pretty quickly!
- Use timers to slowly increase the time they have to wear it like a game. Have them wear a mask and start a timer. Start with one minute and work up time. Provide positive reinforcement when they reach that time. If they don’t, do not get mad. Simply say, “we will try again later.”
- Practice outside the home. We don’t usually wear masks in our homes, so you need to practice at the grocery store, libraries, etc. If you are able, you can practice consistency and repetition which toddlers need to learn: “Ryaan. We are going into the book store. To stay here, we have to wear a mask. If you take it off we leave.” This strategy means you have to follow through on the boundary but if you have time to do this, it can be very successful as they will learn the importance of masking to stay in a place they like.
- Have them pick out their mask or design so they are more likely to wear it.
- Tell them and don’t ask. Rather than saying “Do you want to wear your mask?” Say, “It’s time to put on your mask. Do you want the blue one or green on today?” Think of it like putting on shoes. Give them two options so they have some control.
- Positive reinforcement when they have it on and try not to be upset when they don’t. Toddlers thrive on positive reinforcement! High fives and verbal praise like, “You are a big boy! Look at you wearing a mask like mommy!” go a longer way than yelling at them to “Put your mask on!!” if they take it off.
The best mask is a mask your child will keep on. With the current Omicron surge, it is thought the KN95 or KF94 are preferred. However, don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on one. The goal is to have a mask they will wear and also teach them basic principles of hand hygeine in a layered approach to preventing the spread of illnesses.
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