Best COVID face masks for kids: KN95, disposable, cloth and more

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With the highly contagious delta and delta plus variants of the coronavirus continuing to spread across the US, you may be concerned about your child’s return to school and social activities. Masking rules are designed to protect little ones below the age of 12 who aren’t yet eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. While breakthrough infections rarely result in hospitalization, wearing masks if you’re vaccinated adds an extra layer of protection — and will prevent you from possibly spreading COVID-19 to more vulnerable members of your family or the community. 

The guidance has evolved over the past months over the type of masks for kids that will best protect against COVID-19’s spread. And even if your child’s school doesn’t require mask wearing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all students and staff wear a mask, even if they’re fully vaccinated. 

While CNET has not formally reviewed and tested face masks, we spoke to medical experts for the most up-to-date face mask guidance and drew from CDC recommendations to formulate our informed choices on the best kids’ face mask, including disposable KN95 mask models for smaller faces. Plus, we’re including some models that our staff have used in their own family environments, such as reusable face masks with adjustable nose wire bridges and elastic ear loop straps for a secure fit and greater comfort during all-day wear, and water-resistant reusable masks that are good for sports.

Read more: My toddler got COVID-19. It turned our lives upside down

Vida KN95

Vida

Vida has KN95 face masks for kids with a five-layer filtration system. You can get a 10-pack of these disposable masks for $35.

Screenshot by Katie Teague/CNET

Grainger’s Moldex masks are NIOSH-certified N95 masks that CNET’s Brian Bennett says are ideal “for the super COVID paranoid parents like me.” You can get a pack of 20 for $41.

Powecom

Powecom’s KN95s are priced at just $6 for a pack of 10. They each have five layers with adjustable ear loops and come from an EUA-authorized Chinese manufacturer. 

Other disposable face masks

ICU Health

ICU Health disposable face masks offer three layers of protection and an adjustable nose bridge to fit your child’s face. You can get a pack of 20 for just $10.

WeCare

WeCare’s disposable face masks have three layers and are individually sealed, so you can easily store one in your child’s backpack. They come in a box of 50 for $25.

Screenshot by Katie Teague/CNET

Just Play’s disposable face masks have three layers with an adjustable nose piece and come in sizes small (kids ages 2-7) and large (ages 8 and older). Each box has 24 masks and comes with two designs for $18.

Cloth masks

Dr. Bob Lahita, director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at St. Joseph Health, told CNET that he’s steering people away from cloth masks versus the N95, KN95 and KF94 masks listed above. But there’s an outer layer loophole, says Dr. Bob Bollinger, professor of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and founder of Emocha Health: double masking. If you can’t find an N95, KN95 or KF94, “a good quality disposable mask under a cloth mask is a reasonable alternative, as long as the fit on the face, nose and mouth is tight.”

Under Armour

For your kids that play sports, the Under Armour Sportsmask can help provide airflow with its water-resistant fabric. It also provides UPF 50+ sun protection. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan says his kids keep coming back to the UA masks and that he’s been wearing them to the gym as well.

Vista Print

Vistaprint has contoured face masks with adjustable ear loops and adjustable nose pieces for kids.

Old Navy

Old Navy has tons of reusable face masks in different colors and designs for your little one. The cloth face coverings are made from 100% cotton and have three layers.

This story has been completely updated and revised to reflect new advice and recommendations as of August 2021.

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