“This is a tricky one and pediatricians everywhere are really struggling with how to best give guidances for patients, especially families with very young children (i.e., ages 2 and below),” Dr. Christina Johns, pediatrician and Senior Medical Advisor at PM Pediatrics, tells us. “As I’ve said all along throughout this pandemic, the goal is to do the things you can to mitigate to the risk, knowing that for most of us it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk.”
For kids ages 2 and up, Dr. Johns says that kids should absolutely wear masks indoors. Per the expert, bringing a masked 6-year-old into the grocery store is pretty similar in terms of risk as what has been happening already. “Would I still think twice about going to places that are back to full capacity? I most definitely would. However, if you’re still able to go to a religious service, for example, and there’s an option to be masked and stand in the back, then the risk is lower.” In other words: Taking your masked kid to the grocery store is probably OK but you may want to avoid a sold-out movie theater. Outside, there is a little more flexibility. “There is acknowledgement, even by Dr. Fauci, that when a child is outside and not in a large group, the outside risk is much lower,” Dr. Johns tells us. Dr. Erika Schwartz, a concierge doctor in NYC, agrees, telling us that children don’t need to wear masks when outside in large areas where there is plenty of room for people to walk.
For kids under the age of 2, it’s a little trickier, the pediatrician acknowledges. For this age group, Dr. Johns recommends being strategic. For example, if you need to go to the grocery store with your 18-month-old, you may want to patronize grocery stores that still require masking or go to stores in off-peak hours. Precautions such as hand hygiene and social distancing should also be followed.