We spent the first year of our twins’ lives largely away from people and crowds due to their premature birth and accompanying health concerns.
It was a tough first year staying home, but we did it and were blessed to get through it with no major health issues. Then, just when we were ready to venture out into the big world, a little thing called COVID-19 entered the scene.
Having premature twins presents its unique challenges, but when it came to face masks, it was, and has been, extremely hard to find good fitting, protective masks. At the beginning of the pandemic, my mom was kind enough to sew three-layer tie-around masks that we could customize to the twins' small faces. They worked amazingly well for the first few months, as manufacturers worked to get their mask supply in order. As time went on, though, we wanted masks with filter pockets and it was becoming a larger project to make them at home.
Fast forward to 2021, after consultation with the twins’ doctors, we enrolled the twins in preschool. This was an important step for their development and growth and Peter and I were behind it 100% (doesn’t mean we don’t constantly think and talk about how scary it is to have them out in the big world during a pandemic). In anticipation of their preschool days, we ordered many, many masks early in the summer to find the best one to protect them.
Our face mask criteria:
Washable and reusable
Have a filter pocket or quality similar to a KN95
Comfortable for the twins to wear for long periods of time
Made of quality fabrics
Includes a metal nose piece (especially because one twin wears glasses)
After months of trying out several masks, here’s our list of the best masks for toddlers (ages 2-4).
Unbelts preschool-sized masks remain our #1 pick for a variety of reasons. The first is that they are perfectly sized for small faces. They fit very snug and are secure. Additionally, the straps wrap around the back of the head, so there is no pressure behind the ears. The soft, stretchy elastic also feels good for long periods and the adjustable options are great for getting the perfect fit.
Additionally, the Unbelt preschooler masks fit a PM2.5 face mask filter and have a metal nose piece, making them nice and snug. Also, when the twins do need to take their masks off for lunch, they can hang them around their necks (no more lost masks!) and are easy for them to pull on and off by themselves. In all of the pictures we've received since the twins started preschool, their masks are the only ones fitted correctly and not falling off.
As if you need one more reason to get these, they also have incredible customer service, fast shipping, and a variety of colors (you can even customize!). Also, if the elastic or any part wears out, you can buy replacement pieces, making your purchase last even longer. We love these so much, we got some for the adults, too!
This is my second pick, and honestly, it could be the first pick! Primary masks are incredibly comfortable, have behind-the-head bands, and come in fun colors. They also have a filter pocket, fit securely, and can be worn around the neck, like the Unbelts. The drawback with the primary masks, though, is that they don’t have the metal nose piece (which is hard for our twin with glasses) and they are always out of stock (so we know they’re popular!). If you can get your hands on these, I do recommend them if you don’t need the metal nose piece.
One other small downside to the Primary.com masks is that they aren’t moisture-wicking, so you may have to switch the mask out throughout the day (especially if your kid likes to lick the inside of their masks - don’t ask me!). Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT
You’ve probably seen these advertised everywhere! You can buy them directly from their website or on Amazon. This is my top pick for masks that go around the ears.
They are generally comfortable for a short period of time. They also have a metal nose piece that prevents fogging of glasses and allows for a tighter fit. This is the only mask we tried that did not have a pocket filter. Instead, they sell a reusable filter that can be attached to the back (it was the first time I had ever heard of reusable filters) and they work for added protection (note: they are for the adult mask, so they stick up a bit for the twins, but they don’t mind).
They came packaged nicely with a laundry bag included for laundry day. These are a generally good alternative if the twins don’t need to wear them for long periods of time.
These are our top three picks for toddler face masks - let us know if there are others that you love!
BONUS PICK: If you're looking for an actual N95 or KN95 disposable mask, and your child is old enough to put them on and off and wear them properly, our pick is the Wellbefore Petite Faces masks.
When the twins were younger, closer to 3, the KF94 style KN95 fit best. It was adjustable and comfortable for long periods and a nice disposable option. Now that the twins are closer to 4, they can wear either one with confidence. We still don't send them to preschool in these, as they don't like the feeling behind their ears after a few hours. But these are great for ballet class, soccer, or anything where they don't need to wear them for long.