WHO guidelines on kids masks

If your preschooler doesn't like wearing a mask we've got some news for you. While masks can be beneficial for some kids, they aren't for every kid, as the WHO notes in new guidance this month.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF wrote in new joint guidance that children under 5 shouldn't be required to wear masks unless there's an adult nearby who can make sure they're wearing it properly the entire time.

"This advice is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance," the WHO wrote.

The organization noted that there's limited COVID-specific evidence to support the age cut off of 5 years old, but that a group of experts chose it based on average child development: By this age, kids usually have more of the dexterity and motor coordination required to properly wear a mask.

"In some countries, guidance and policies recommend a different and lower age cut-off for mask use," WHO and UNICEF wrote. The United States is one of those countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance, which was updated in August, states that children over 2 years old should wear face coverings whenever possible.

All of this contradicting advice can be confusing so here's what parents need to know about the new WHO guidelines:

In countries like the United States, or if a child is going to be physically close to someone who is ill, WHO recommends "a parent or other guardian should be within direct line of sight to supervise the safe use of the mask."

The WHO and UNICEF guidance also addresses children 6-11 years old, who should wear masks based various risk factors like:

  • "Intensity of transmission in the area where the child is and updated data/available evidence on the risk of infection and transmission in this age group;"
  • "Social and cultural environment such as beliefs, customs, behavior or social norms that influence the community and population's social interactions, especially with and among children;"
  • "The child's capacity to comply with the appropriate use of masks and availability of appropriate adult supervision;"
  • "Potential impact of mask wearing on learning and psychosocial development; and"
  • "Additional specific considerations and adaptions [sic] for specific settings such as households with elderly relatives, schools, during sport activities or for children with disabilities or with underlying diseases."

For children who are 12 and older, parents should follow the local or national mask guidance for adults. The groups also recommend that parents, teachers and community members use age-appropriate communication and education to help kids understand when mask-wearing is necessary and how to do it properly.

In some situations, like at school, WHO and UNICEF said adults should adapt the age cut-off for wearing a mask to "to avoid stigmatizing and alienating children in mixed-aged groups." For example, they note that in situations "where older children for whom masks are advised are in the same class as younger children who fall below the age cut-off for wearing masks, the older learners might be exempt from wearing masks."

Medical experts in the United States have had trouble implementing successful guidance regarding masks, in part because of confusion at the start of the pandemic about the efficacy of wearing masks. But the CDC has maintained that they are critically important, writing in July that there's "increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others," according to The Verge.

As students head back to school, medical professionals are calling for school administrators to require masks, particularly at high schools and colleges, but some schools have pushed back, The Washington Post reported.

The back and forth of the mask debate is concerning to experts, especially given that there were more than 75,000 new cases of the coronavirus in children between July 30 and August 13—a 24% increase, The Verge reported.

The WHO and UNICEF's new guidance will hopefully give parents additional clarity about when and how to help their kids wear masks safely and effectively.

Jo Yurcaba is a writer and editor living in central North Carolina. They cover women's health, LGBTQ+ rights, and politics. When they're not writing, they're usually riding horses or eating lots of southern food.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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