The ongoing pandemic has been difficult for kids, confusing even, given that many adults are also figuring things out every day. Children have been asked to stay at home and stay safe, something that goes against their very nature. With schools still shut, kids are leading confined lives, and these restrictions have come down on them heavily.
Among other things, children may also be confused about wearing masks. Some little ones do not understand the significance of masks, and also find it incredibly uncomfortable. But, to help parents with this, many companies have come up with kid-friendly ideas to help and encourage them to wear masks. Around the world, masks for kids are coming up in colourful prints and are being customised even, to suit their taste. So, from Barbie and superhero masks, to masks with animal prints, there is a plethora out there.
Natasha Mehra, of the Natasha Mehra Label, who has been designing, manufacturing and selling masks worldwide, tells indianexpress.com that the pandemic caused a humanitarian crisis, which motivated her to gather resources, fabrics, karigars, etc, to make thousands of reusable masks to be donated to daily wage workers and underprivileged children in Delhi.
“We distributed our first batch of 1,000 colourful masks with the support of an NGO called Project Annapoorna (an initiative supported by the Art of Living Foundation). This was so well received that we had many patrons and friends alike reaching out to be a part of this initiative. With their support, we were able to raise funds for another 3,000 masks distributed among vulnerable communities. Some of the masks have become very popular and we have even received orders for personal use and for their kids,” says Mehra, who is based out of UAE.
Mehra explains that the masks they manufacture are “made of soft organic cotton with one spun bound layer as a filter, and are SITRA certified”. These can be hand or machine-washed, and can be reused several times. The elastic is soft and rounded to avoid irritation, and they are comfortable and breathable, she explains.
“We do three sizes — kids, teenagers, adults — and have great prints for women, men and kids. There also options of having these with or without respirators. We sell in packs of five with assorted prints and we keep updating them,” she adds.
Just like Mehra, Gurugram-based Sriparna Das Chakraborty, who manages Aamani’s Crochet, tells indianexpress.com that her company mostly engages women artisans, who receive training for free. During this pandemic, while crochet manufacturing has temporarily stopped, she has started with mask manufacturing, to get these women to stay engaged and make a living.
“The masks are for both kids and adults, and are available in crochet, too, but for kids we are customising them based on their age groups — 2-5 years and 5-10 years — and those are made with kid-friendly prints. We have many varieties for kids, like baby prints with alphabets, tiger face, cat face, animal prints, etc,” Chakraborty says.
“We are already putting a burden on kids by asking them to wear masks, and if they do not wear them, then what is the point? To make it more interesting so that they wear it, we have come up with these designs. The masks have a nominal price range starting from Rs 25 per piece, to Rs 50 per piece, based on the print and the design. Masks are mandatory, but kids do not always understand that. So, we have to make something that kids like and ask for on their own,” she explains, adding the orders can be placed on her official Facebook page.
But, why must there be separate masks for kids?
“It is important for children to wear masks to prevent the infection from spreading, as droplets coming out of the mouth during sneezing, coughing and talking can spread infection, and especially since we have to be in close vicinity of children. If they see fancy colours and their favourite cartoons on masks, they get more cooperative in terms of wearing them,” says Dr Viny Kantroo, Respiratory Medicine Specialist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
“Kids have different face shapes, as the bones and tissues are still growing, and hence to find a perfect fit is not possible every time. This can be taken care of by cloth masks. Masks for children should have strips to tie rather than elastic for two reasons — one, that it gives a better fit and hold, and two, the elastic around the ear is painful even for adults,” she adds.
Besides making your child wear a mask, you should keep an eye on them at every 15 minutes, as because of re-breathing, they may become sleepy and not call for help; be very vigilant, Dr Kantroo warns.