Children and Face Masks: 6 Tips to Make them More Comfortable

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is important to talk with children about the reasons people wear a face mask, practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking. A cloth face covering acts as a barrier to help prevent the spread of those droplets.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended everyone over the age of two wear a face mask in settings where social distancing is not possible. However, for many parents, getting a child to wear a face mask and leave it on may feel like a challenge. The physicians at Gaston Medical Partners want to remind parents that their child is capable of wearing a mask – it may just take patience and practice.  

Kids are resilient and adapt quickly. If you’re working with children, remember these tips to help make wearing a face mask more comfortable and routine.

1. Explain

Explain why the face mask is important using age-appropriate language. For younger children, stick to simple, concrete terms such as stating, ‘Wearing a face mask helps keep us safe and keep others around us safe,’ or ‘Wearing a face mask can help protect us and others from germs.’ Be consistent in how you explain this and repeat the message over and over.

For older children, share more detailed information and refer to trusted resources such as the CDC for illustrations that show how masks can help prevent the virus from spreading.

2. Normalize and Validate

If a child has concerns or fears about wearing a face mask, practice patience and acknowledge that this is different, and it may feel weird. Adults should lead by example, wearing their own face masks.

Remember children learn and process feelings through play. Give a child a mask for their favorite stuffed animal or have them help draw and decorate a mask. Practice putting the mask on their toy and have the child practice wear theirs to make it feel more routine. Listen to what the child says during play to understand the emotions they are feeling.

3. Ensure Fit and Comfort

Making sure a child’s mask fits correctly and comfortably will help prevent fidgeting. A cloth face mask should fit over a child’s nose and mouth securely under their chin. Avoid any gaps on the sides by adjusting the mask’s fit so it is snug. Always check that the child can breathe easily when wearing the face mask. When putting on a child’s face mask, or when teaching the child how to put on their own mask, make sure they wash their hands first.

For little ones sensitive to touch and sound, a soft fabric mask may be more comfortable than a paper disposable face mask that can rub or rustle. To protect against droplets from coughs or sneezes, try a face shield.

4. Enlist the Child’s Help

There are many different types of masks available so make sure to have the child participate in the process of picking one out, giving them some control. If they are involved and choose their favorite color or character, they are more likely to feel excited about wearing the face mask.

Choose a covering that is easily washable and sized for the child’s age. If little ones complain about ear pressure, find face masks that tie behind the head, or use clips or buttons to fasten ear loops to a headband, hat or an extender band.

5. Practice

Whenever introducing something new to a child, it can help to practice and slowly get them comfortable with the change. Before the child wears their face mask in public, practice putting on the mask and wearing it for short periods around the home working up to longer periods of time. Some even use a timer and rewards.

6. Plan

Wearing a face mask is a big adjustment for all of us. Make sure to build in plenty of time to have the child practice putting on and taking off their own face mask. Wear them around the house to get more practice and plan for hiccups when out in public.

Remember this is new and has an adjustment period. Use positive language and reinforce why wearing a face mask is helpful for families and for others in the community. Focusing on the things that can be controlled and thinking positively can go a long way in reducing anxiety. Try to remain patient, positive, and praise small victories, no matter how tiny.


COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, we have compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions heard from patients. If you still have reservations about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines, we strongly urge you to rely on factual, science-based resources like ours. We are confident that once you get the facts, you’ll get the vax.

To learn more about vaccine distribution including where you can make an appointment and what group you’re in, click here.

Why People Should Be Vaccinated

It seems that vaccine production was rushed, how can that be safe?

The fact is that scientists had already been working on vaccine strategies for viruses just like coronavirus for several years prior to the appearance of COVID-19. In addition, the companies that produced the mRNA COVID vaccines have been studying mRNA technology for over a decade. However, the speed occurred because a global pandemic struck and governments rapidly funded vaccine trials and then put large amounts of money into manufacturing vaccines at a rapid rate. NO steps were skipped in the vaccine trials.

Does the vaccine change my DNA?

Absolutely not. All vaccines introduce a little piece of the virus into your body, which is not enough to make you sick. Your immune system then makes antibodies against that little piece so that when the real virus enters your body, the antibodies are ready to fight off the virus.

The mRNA vaccines provide the genetic “code” for surface pieces of the coronavirus. Once your cells have the genetic code, your body produces pieces of the virus protein and your immune system then makes coronavirus antibodies. The mRNA NEVER enters the cell nucleus where all your DNA is stored.

I’d rather wait to see how others do first…

Hundreds of thousands of people were immunized through all the vaccine trials across the world. If there had been any serious side effects or safety concerns, the vaccines would not have been approved.

Was the vaccine tested on people of diverse ethnic backgrounds? Was everyone in the vaccine trials healthy? How do I know it’s safe for me?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccine trial participants included 20-25% Hispanic, 10% Black and 5% Asian volunteers. Both vaccine trials had 20-25% of participants over age 65, and 30-35% of patients were obese. 5-10% of participants had diabetes, COPD or heart disease.

Is there a concern about getting the vaccine while pregnant or could it impact my fertility?

Talk to your OB/GYN about getting the vaccine if you are pregnant. While numbers of pregnant individuals in the trials were small, there were no adverse events with the vaccine. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recently recommended withholding COVID-19 vaccines from pregnant individuals unless they are at high risk of exposure, however we still believe the benefits outweigh any risk. There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility.

Will we get to stop wearing masks after vaccination?

The vaccines are 94-95% effective after getting both doses, which is great news.  However, we will need to keep wearing masks until enough people get vaccinated to protect the bigger population.

Questions About Receiving the Vaccine

Does my doctor think I should get the vaccine?

Yes, in general, we strongly recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine when and where possible. If you are undergoing chemotherapy now, check with your oncologist for guidance.

If I was diagnosed with COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine? If so, when?

If you have had COVID-19, you can get the vaccine at least 30 days after diagnosis. You could possibly wait up to 90 days after the COVID-19 illness before getting the vaccine, but waiting 30 days is the minimum.

Can I contract COVID-19 after getting my first dose of the vaccine?

Yes, you can contract the COVID-19 illness, but not from the vaccine itself. This is why it is incredibly important to continue to wash your hands, wear your face mask and practice social distancing. You only obtain partial immune protection after the first COVID-19 vaccine and thus are still able to contract the COVID-19 illness.

If I contract COVID-19 after receiving my first vaccine shot should I delay getting the second shot? 

If you contract COVID-19 after your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you can receive your second dose as scheduled, or as soon as your quarantine is complete.

I am allergic to many medications, should I get the vaccine?

Even if you have a history of anaphylaxis, it is OK to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You will be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving your COVID-19 vaccine. If you have a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine, please consult your physician before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine and my shingles vaccine near the same time?

Getting the shingles vaccine shortly before or after getting either dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will not impact the effectiveness of either vaccine. We do recommend spacing the vaccines out by at least 14 days because they both cause similar side effects and may be hard on your body. Prioritize your COVID-19 vaccine first!

Can l get the COVID-19 vaccine if l am currently taking a blood thinner medication (including Plavix and Warfarin)? 

Yes, you can. When you go to get your vaccine, let the person giving you the shot know so they can apply extra pressure to prevent bleeding after your vaccination.

If I am undergoing cancer treatment, or am on immunosuppressant drugs, is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

If you are undergoing cancer treatment, be sure to speak with your oncologist. If you are not in active treatment, you should proceed with getting the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are on immunosuppressants, speak with your doctor about vaccination and timing.


  1. FDA Briefing Documents, Moderna Covid 19 Vaccine, 12/17/20
  2. FDA Briefing Documents, Pfizer-BioNTech Covid 19 Vaccine, 12/10/20
  3. “The Race to Save the World,” Walter Iaacson, Time Magazine, 1//18/21
  4. mRNA Vaccine: Facts vs Fiction, Toks Falarin, MD
  5. Graphic from Nature magazine
  6. ACOG and SMFM Joint Statement on WHO Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 Vaccines and Pregnant Individuals