Parents have had to manage unprecedented levels of stress during the pandemic. Every decision surrounding their family’s safety is fraught and made even more complicated by the ever-shifting messaging surrounding COVID and its variants. Infections have been surging since mid-December, and as a result, health officials are recommending that everyone, including kids, ditch cloth masks in favor of a KN95 mask, the Chinese equivalent of the U.S. N95. The next best bet is a surgical mask, which offers more protection than a cloth mask (and is even more effective if layered under a cloth mask).
You’ve likely seen kids sporting cute cloth masks over the past couple of years, but it’s time to start investing in high-quality masks for kids that offer stronger protection against COVID and its effects.
That said, it’s not always easy to parse through the best and most effective masks for kids. As it stands, the FDA has only approved one medical-level mask for kids, the Kimberly-Clark medical masks. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health only regulates adult masks, but there are some brands that sell NIOSH-approved adult masks that are also making mini versions for kids. Those, along with a few FDA-listed and Korean or Chinese-standard kids’ masks, are worth investigating. (In the U.S., FDA registration or listing does not mean that the device is FDA cleared or approved. It only means that the FDA is aware of the manufacturer and their devices.)
We’ve rounded up a few of the most effective surgical and KN95-level masks for kids. Pick up a few options and then bookmark this page so you can return when it’s time to restock your supply, because shipping times tend to be slow and items sell out quick.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.