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More often than not, some of our favorite buys are small, how-didn’t-I-know-about-this products that solve an everyday problem. That’s what we’re highlighting in our Little Lifesavers series: cheap, simple purchases that you’ll use daily. Hit “Add to Cart” and thank us later!
Problem: There’s no more remote learning for most of our kids, and that means that many of us are sending our young children to school in person again, without the added benefit of vaccines. With the delta variant everywhere, we want amped-up protection for our kids — cloth masks aren’t going to cut it for many of us. The problem is the seeming lack of legit KN95 masks for kids.
Solution: Brave Kids' masks — a kids' size KN95 style mask from an FDA-registered company.
My daughter just started her fifth grade year, which marks the first time she's been in class since third grade. She's too young to be vaccinated, and with more and more kids getting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill thanks to the prevalence of the quick-spreading delta variant, I want her to have every protection I can afford her. So I went searching for an N95 mask for my littlest learner.
I knew that there were a ton of counterfeit masks on the market, and I wasn't interested in buying those for my baby. (OK, she's 10, but she's still my baby.) That meant I had to put my journalist cap on and start researching. I eventually found Brave, an FDA-registered company making well-fitting, KN95 face masks for kids.
There is no NIOSH-approved N95 mask for kids, because NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, only deals with products designed for adults to use in the workplace. Children's products are therefore out of their purview. Because of that technicality, we are reliant on companies to regulate the goods themselves. And this has been notoriously problematic, as so much of it relies upon our own judgment.
Some masks are counterfeit: Here's some legitimate options for you and the kids
FDA-registered means the company is registered with the FDA, so that if a product becomes recalled — or if it is found to be ineffective — there is a process to disseminate that information to purchasers. This is different from the process to becoming FDA-cleared or FDA-authorized as a medical device. They are well-fitting, very comfortable, KN95 kids masks.
The Brave masks are made with five layers of breathable non-woven fabric, with two premium layers that add extra breathability and protection. They're manufactured in a way that randomizes the filaments into a non-woven fabric, which makes a denser but breathable material according to Science Direct. The stretchy ear bands are extra soft, and the metal nosepiece helps secure a snug fit. They purportedly filter out and capture 95% of tiny 0.3 micron particles in the air, according to Brave, and that makes me feel much more secure about sending my kid back to class.
But on top of their safety, and perhaps most importantly to my daughter, they come in lots of colors and don’t “pinch your ears.” Granted, the only color my daughter wanted me to order was black, and that also seems to be the general theme of her school clothing, but she likes the option to have other colors.
And unlike many other KN95 masks, the masks from Brave have a covered nose piece that doesn’t start to peel off after a couple of wears. This is a big deal for parents because you want to make sure that your kids’ masks fit right every time they put them on. I have found that once you adjust the mask to your kid’s face, it’s good to go for the week.
And yes, I do switch out the mask weekly, because I’m that level of worried at this point. Brave notes that they should be discarded after each use, but I’m being perfectly honest with you that we aren’t doing that, and I don’t think anyone else really is, either. It’s a lot of expense and a lot of waste. Though Brave does include an envelope to recycle old masks, which honestly makes me feel a whole lot better about using disposables this year.
The masks arrived just a few days after ordering them, and thankfully, don’t have a chemical industrial scent that really irritates my daughter. Essentially, they smell of paper. They loop easily on the wrist for lunchtime and for the trip to and from school, and even at the end of the week, they don’t appear frayed or damaged.
I know we're all scared about this year. It's a genuinely terrifying time to be a parent. Getting your kid a mask like this one may give you just a little bit more comfort and edge the panic back just a hair. Plus, fun colors, right?