Perhaps the most contentious of these changes is the required face coverings in all public areas of the resort. We’ve already shared what it’s like to spend the day in a face mask in the Florida heat and some tips for feeling comfortable. But everyone ages 2 and up has to wear one — which is leaving a number of parents wondering how on earth do you get your 2-year-old to wear a mask all day??? We’ve got some tips to help!
1. Choose the right mask.
If you think picking the right mask for you is tough, comfort is going to be about 9000 times more important when choosing a mask for your child! Disney is not requiring a specific type of face-covering to enter the park, which means you’re good with an ear-loop mask, a tied mask, a neck gaiter (the kind you wear around your neck and pull up), and more as long as it securely covers your nose and mouth.
You don’t want to give your 2-year-old the same kind of mask that you’re wearing. First of all, you want their mask to fit their little faces. Forbes has a great list of masks for infants and kids. The better the mask fits, the fewer times your kid might try to rip it off in a fit of discomfort.
Some of the parents on our team have had more luck with the neck gaiter-style face masks. These don’t have the annoying loops for the ears and feel more familiar and comfortable — like wearing a scarf.
Kids respond to colors, patterns, and designs. Let them choose a few patterns they like — they’ll be more likely to wear it if THEY chose it themselves (but more on that in a bit!).
If you opt for a traditional mask, REALLY put thought to how it secures. Members of our team with young kids had pretty bad results with masks with ties (they slip down your kid’s head, they’re too tight, too loose…basically they’re drove our kids [and us!] crazy!).
2. Plan for and promise a LOT of breaks.
Once you’re in the parks, get ready to take a LOT of breaks. Like the URest Areas in Universal Orlando, Disney has proposed “relaxation zones” in the parks where you and your toddler can remove your face masks and take a breather.
Promise your kid that you’ll take breaks whenever they need one and plan to take a LOT of breaks in the day. In fact, you might even take more than you had originally planned.
If those masks get irritating or your child isn’t used to them (especially the younger kiddos), you’re going to need to know where the nearest relaxation zone is FAST.
Remember that meals can be an option for a break, too! Guests can remove masks while seated at a dining table so factor that in when planning your theme park day. Order up some chicken nuggs and let your kiddo take a much-needed break at a quick-service spot or book a dining reservation (once they become available again) to let your tyke relax mask free over a long meal.
3. Give them treats as a break and a reward.
If there’s one thing that might work with getting a fussy kid to wear a mask, it’s bribery. Not speaking from experience or anything! 😉 So, if your little one is hanging in there with their mask, get ready to grab that Mickey Bar. Even if you would typically buy your littles a treat in the park, frame it as a reward so they feel better about keeping their masks on.
Plus, in Disney Springs, guests are allowed to pull their mask down while eating a grab and go treat. If the Disney parks follow a similar model, that Mickey Bar or rice krispie treat might act as both a reward and a mask break too.
Consider alternative treats as well! Little ones might love a fun Mickey straw that they can sip under their mask, or let them have a piece of candy to keep them occupied and not so worried about their mouths being covered.
4. Practice wearing a mask at home.
This next one is a BIG ONE. Before your trip, make sure that you AND your kiddo practice wearing a mask at home. Things might not go too well if your 2-year-old has never seen or worn a mask in their life and suddenly has to wear one for hours on end in the Florida heat.
In fact, some kids might not be used to having anything on their face in general. Consider starting with sunglasses or something else on the face that doesn’t impede breathing.
Once they’re comfy with that, move on to a mask. Start by having them wear it for a little bit at a time and work up to longer periods. This will help them to feel more comfortable and you can get a sense of their limits.
Don’t just have them try their mask out inside either! Wear a mask WITH your masked kiddo so they see it’s a whole-family activity and go on a walk to get used to wearing one outdoors. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can also take them to a park, mall, or community area where masks are required to show them that others are wearing them as well.
5. Let them pick out their masks — and your mask!
We touched on this one initially, but seriously this can be the key for many parents — let your kids pick out not just their masks but yours as well! They might be more inclined to wear a mask if it has their favorite characters or a silly print on it. Disney has some awesome branded mask designs that your kid might love!
Masks can be frightening for some small children so having them involved in the process of picking them out and making an event out of it makes it feel special. Plus, if you’re wearing a mask THEY select, they might respond better to seeing mom or dad decked out in a mask.
6. Give them an incentive if they wear the mask all day.
Remember that bribery thing we talked about? Yeah, it’s gonna be your best weapon in your “keep my toddler masked” arsenal! Consider coming up with an incentive if your kid will wear their mask all day, and stick to it. If you promise them something, give it to them if they do well and withhold it if they don’t so that they know you expect them to do better the next day.
Opt for something you wouldn’t normally get them like a super cool toy from a Disney gift store. Sorry mom and dad, you might be spoiling junior this trip to entice them to follow the rules! If they feel like it’s special or they HAVE to have it, you might see their sense of restraint kick in. Mask on all day? You can get anything you want from the gift shop (within reason 😉)!
Keep in mind that for many kids, their greatest weakness comes in the form of a chance to play in your resort pool (we totally get it — Disney’s pools are mega fun). Guests do NOT need to wear a mask while swimming so this is a way to give your kids a (free!) reward they’re probably already begging for AND a chance to go mask-free for a while.
If your kid is practically a mermaid, like many of ours, plan on heading back to your resort mid-day for a dip in the pool and remind your kid if they wear their mask all day, they have swimming to look forward to!
7. Keep your kiddo cool!
We’ve got another big one for you here. Keep your kid cool! This is an important tip for any time in Disney World (Florida is HOT!) but it’s going to be especially important with those masks! Most face masks don’t impede breathing but they will trap heat on your little one’s face.
There are a few ways to help mitigate the effects of this. Grab a clip-on fan for your stroller or a handheld fan that you can use to give your kid some extra air when they need it. Remember, you can get free ice water from any quick-service location, so stop for a cool drink whenever you can. Plus, you can always duck into gift shops or attractions for an AC escape!
8. Show them that wearing a mask is normal, and even fun!
Ok, so wearing a mask isn’t normal and it would be a stretch for most of us to call it fun. But you know the same way you might put a big smile on and eat those brussels sprouts in front of your kiddo so they realize it’s not a bad thing, and they can do it, too? Same thing here. We’ve touched on this already with letting them pick their mask design and taking them somewhere that masks are mandatory, but we figured it deserved its own point too.
If you think it will work, try enlisting an older sibling (one they look up to or think is cool!) to help with encouraging the younger one to wear a mask. Or, go about it in a cute and fun way! Consider getting them a new Mickey plush to bring on the trip and buy or sew a little mask for their new Mickey! This can help normalize the idea of masks and make them less scary.
Overall, you need to take your kid’s individual needs into account when considering a return to Disney. Know their limits; for some, wearing a mask all day in a theme park just might not be feasible. Gauge in advance whether the trip is worth the effort for your family, if it is, get ready to have fun! If not, consider holding off until masks are no longer required, or your child gets more used to them.
Have any plans for getting your little one to wear a mask? Share some tips in the comments!