When it comes to getting your child to actually wear a mask (and keep it on!) most parents can agree that the style your kid will wear is the one to go with. But there is one type of mask that parents should never let their kids wear.


You’ve probably seen some people with these masks on–they look like regular masks but have a circle on the front. This is actually an exhalation valve, and while it may make breathing while wearing a mask a bit easier, it pretty much defeats the purpose of wearing one since the air expelled through it may contain COVID and contaminate others near the wearer.

“Do NOT choose masks that have exhalation valves or vents, which allow virus particles to escape,” warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on its website.

It’s unsettling to think that wearing a mask could not only be ineffective but also potentially put others at risk but that’s simply the case when it comes to these masks with valves on them. When air is expelled out of the mask’s valve, droplets that may contain the virus enter the air and may infect those around you.

According to the CDC, acceptable types of masks include ones with “two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.” The mask should completely cover the wearer’s nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face so that there are no gaps. When it comes to children, buying child-sized masks for kids with smaller faces can solve this problem.

Another mask you should avoid at all costs is the gaitor. Gaiter masks, which are neck fleeces that runners wear, have also been found to be an ineffective form of protection. Wearing a gaiter actually resulted in a higher number of droplets passed on because the material broke down the larger droplets into smaller ones, resulting in more particles carried in the air.

Remember, it is not recommended that children younger than 2 years old wear masks.  Also, skip the N95 masks and surgical masks and save those for healthcare workers.