We answered parents' most important questions about COVID-19

Including how to recognize symptoms, what to do if you're pregnant and where to get financial help.

parents coronavirus questions

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt around the world—and as cases resurge in the U.S.—parents have particular questions about how to keep their families safe and healthy. We've collected answers to some of the most common questions parents have asked about coronavirus. Because the situation is evolving so rapidly, advice may change as new information comes to light.

Knowledge is power—and we want you to feel empowered, not panicked. Here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions from parents about coronavirus.


What should we do if there are coronavirus cases nearby?

Experts advise that the best course of action to avoid transmitting or spreading the virus is to practice social distancing: Basically, avoid unnecessary travel, stick close to home and do not gather in large groups.

Health regulations vary widely from state to state (and even from town to town) depending on whether cases are rising or falling locally. The most important thing you can do is to stay informed about local virus transmission rates and public health directives in your area.

In addition to social distancing, experts agree that wearing a mask in public places, particularly while indoors, helps prevent asymptomatic transmission of the virus while also helping protect at-risk people such as pregnant women, the elderly and frontline and emergency workers. The CDC recommends wearing a mask wherever it is difficult to maintain social distance, especially if the virus is active in your area.

While dealing with closures and lifestyle changes due to social distancing may be stressful, social distancing and masks are both important weapons in "flattening the curve" of the infection's spread.

For more resources:

What are the symptoms of coronavirus? The CDC has updated its list

coronavirus flu cold symptom chart

Symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, may include fever, coughing and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recently updated its list of symptoms to include congestion or runny nose, nausea and diarrhea as coronavirus symptoms.

Unfortunately for parents everywhere, all of these are also common symptoms of colds and flu. The chart above breaks down how the symptoms of coronavirus differ from the symptoms of cold, flu, RSV and seasonal allergies.

Symptoms that are more unique to COVID-19 include a loss of taste or smell, in addition to chills, muscle pain and shaking due to chills. Some studies have also noted that skin lesions on the toes or hands, sometimes referred to as COVID toes, can occur in children and adults with the virus.

If anyone in my family has symptoms, what should we do?

The CDC advises that you call your doctor or health care provider if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus that include high fever, cough or shortness of breath. Your doctor will be able to provide next steps for your care as well as help you get tested.

Emergency warning signs for COVID-19 include trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion or inability to arouse and blueness in the lips or face. These symptoms are signs that you should call 911 immediately. The operator should be told that you that you have, or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a cloth face covering before medical help arrives.

Other steps to take if you experience symptoms, as recommended by the CDC:

  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home as much as possible.
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor.
  • Wear a face mask if you are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your doctor immediately if your symptoms worsen.

What can I do to keep my family from getting sick?

While there's no silver bullet that will prevent coronavirus, experts recommend frequent hand-washing, cleaning high-touch surfaces in the house regularly (here's how to clean your house to prevent coronavirus) and paying close attention to hygiene.

There are also some simple actions you can take to help boost your family's immune systems overall, such as getting enough sleep and eating healthful foods. And of course, social distancing is the top method health professionals recommend to prevent yourself—and others—from transmitting the virus.

More resources about how coronavirus impacts children, babies, and moms-to-be:

Is it okay to take kids out to public places? Can we go to the playground?

Especially if you live in an area where the number of cases is rapidly rising, experts recommend using an abundance of caution and staying home as much as possible. That means not scheduling any unnecessary social gatherings like birthday parties, sleepovers and play dates. Playgrounds are also not advised right now, although if you are lucky enough to live in an area where cases and hospitalizations are low and declining, some summer activities (like going to the beach) are considered lower risk.

Social distancing for families is hard, but it's so important to take it seriously. Taking kids to ride bikes or for a walk—where it's easy to maintain space between people—is okay, but taking kids to shopping centers, playgrounds and other public places where large numbers of people gather in close contact is discouraged.

Right now, the best place for kids to play is at home.


More ideas for keeping kids busy during the coronavirus pandemic:

Is it safe to travel with kids?

The answer is changing every day, but experts say that local travel by car is perfectly safe. It may be wisest to postpone family vacations through the summer, though.

The CDC's guidelines for nonessential travel are basically a decision tree, encouraging individuals to consider the following questions:

  • Is COVID-19 spreading where you're going? You can get infected while traveling.
  • Is COVID-19 spreading in your community? Even if you don't have symptoms, you can spread COVID-19 to others while traveling.
  • Will you or those you are traveling with be within 6 feet of others during or after your trip? Being within 6 feet of others increases your chances of getting infected and infecting others.
  • Are you or those you are traveling with more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? Older adults and people of any age who have a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Do you live with someone who is more likely to get very ill from COVID-19? If you get infected while traveling you can spread COVID-19 to loved ones when you return, even if you don't have symptoms.

More resources for family travel during the pandemic:

How do I tell my kids about coronavirus?

Talking to your kids about coronavirus is important, whether you're soothing their worries or simply reminding them about the importance of good hand washing. The potential for disruption to daily life is high, but the CDC still says the risk to children is low.

Be calm, meet your child where they are in terms of their interest level in the news and remember that it's okay not to have all the answers.

More resources for talking with kids about coronavirus + social distancing and managing their fears:

What do pregnant women need to know about coronavirus?

Preventing exposure to coronavirus if you are pregnant

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has noted precautions that pregnant women and nursing women should take to help limit their exposure to coronavirus and stresses that pregnant women should stay in touch with their care providers to be advised of the most recent protocols.

Here are the current guidelines for pregnant women from ACOG:

  • Pregnant people should report concerning symptoms immediately: these include fever, cough, and chest tightness or difficulty breathing.
  • Providers will be following a detailed algorithm when deciding when to test pregnant people for COVID-19. The primary criteria involve assessing the presence of coronavirus symptoms.
  • Regarding travel, pregnant women (like all people) should adhere to the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for specific areas, in addition to consulting with their providers.
  • ACOG does not currently recommend that women change their labor + delivery plans in response to the pandemic.
  • ACOG also does not endorse that women plan to give birth at home rather than at their hospital, noting that "ACOG believes that the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" as opposed to giving birth at home.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 while pregnant

It does not appear that COVID-19 can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her fetus, according to studies. That said, pregnant women who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to take special precautions during pregnancy, labor and delivery. A recent CDC study has suggested that pregnant women with coronavirus are more likely to be hospitalized and to require ventilation.

Here are the current guidelines from ACOG for pregnant women who have tested positive:

  • Follow advice from the CDC, your OB-GYN and your primary health care provider.
  • Stay home except to get medical care. Avoid public transportation.
  • Speak with your health care team over the phone before going to their office. Get medical care right away if you feel worse or think it's an emergency.
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home.
  • Wear a face mask when you are around other people and when you go to get medical care.

Giving birth during a pandemic

Here's everything we know about giving birth during the coronavirus pandemic so far.

After delivery, your doctor or midwife may recommend your baby be cared for in another part of the hospital temporarily. This is done as a protective measure for the infant and only in certain cases, with careful consideration. The CDC says that when it comes to separating a mother and baby due to COVID-19 concerns, the risks and benefits should be explained to the mother, and it should not be considered the first or only option.

Preparing for postpartum during a pandemic

The good news is, your doctor's recommendations for caring for yourself and your baby in the weeks after delivery are not all that different from pre-pandemic times: Stay home, rest, take care of yourself and stay in close contact with your care provider.

Here are resources for making the transition to new motherhood a peaceful and healthy one, even during this stressful time:

Can I start IVF during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you are about to start IVF, you should speak with your reproductive endocrinologist about whether they are starting any IVF cycles at this time, and about the risks of going forward with your cycle. Motherly's education editor and certified nurse midwife Diana Spalding recommends that people consider freezing their embryos and not do a fresh transfer right now—we are still learning a lot about the impacts of coronavirus on pregnancy so delaying conception a bit may decrease the chance of potential risks associated with the infection.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and infants, and it is unclear if COVID-19 can cross the placenta. Since pregnant women are at higher risk of complications from similar respiratory infections, pregnant women are considered an "at-risk population" for COVID-19.

The data on coronavirus infections in pregnancy is minimal. Providing care for pregnant women with severe infections will possibly be more difficult and resource-intensive. Some of the drugs that are being considered for treatment may not be usable in pregnant women, for instance.

It may be best to postpone your cycle for multiple reasons, including unknown risks of infection during pregnancy, desire to minimize in-person interactions, and preserving medical resources for urgent COVID-19 patients.

When will kids go back to school?

As of this update, school closures have impacted public and private schools and preschools in all 50 states. The timeline for going back to school depends on where you live.

The American Academy of Pediatrics hopes to see students in schools come September. In recently released guidance on school re-entry, the AAP "strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school."

When school does reopen in the fall, it is likely that additional cleaning and social distancing measures will be in place, regardless of where you live. The CDC has published detailed recommendations for schools for local districts to implement as best they can. These recommendations for safely reopening schools include:

  • Training staff and teachers to prevent transmission of the virus and to recognize signs of illness
  • Promoting hand washing and healthy hygiene practices
  • "Intensifying" cleaning, disinfection and ventilation
  • Employees wearing cloth masks, "as feasible"
  • Maintaining social distancing by increasing spacing and creating small groups that don't intermix

More information about when and how schools are reopening:

What should I do if I can't pay my bills because I'm out of work?

We understand this is a tough time right now, mama, and not everyone is getting paid while they're out of work. The federal government has announced relief payments for people affected by the pandemic and pushed back the tax deadline to July 15, although if you qualify for a refund, you should file earlier. There are a few additional things you can do if you're facing hardship:

  1. Call your landlord or the bank that holds your mortgage and discuss your options during a pandemic. Some states are seeking to ban evictions during the pandemic.
  2. Contact your credit card company and ask about payment plan options, or if there are any interest deferrals during a time of crisis.
  3. If you have student loan payments, interest payments on federal loans have been paused during the pandemic. Speak to your loan provider to see if there are any other resources available.
  4. Contact your local diaper bank if you cannot afford more diapers. You can find one close to you here.
  5. Here's what to do if you cannot afford baby formula, or if you cannot find baby formula in your area. We're also tracking places where parents can find formula, diapers and wipes.
  6. Here's where to find free and low-cost food during the pandemic.
  7. Call your representatives in state and municipal government. Some areas are making plans to help those hit by financial hardship during this time.

How do I work from home with kids around?

With offices across the country encouraging workers to clock in remotely, and schools closing in district after district, finding a way to work from home with kids is a high priority for a growing number of parents. It's definitely possible—and we've got lots of work from home strategies to help (the entire staff at Motherly works from home—almost all of us with kids—so we're all right there with you, mama).

[This post was originally published April 3, 2020. It has been updated.]

The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

Conz Preti

Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


Belly oil

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

$58

Belly mask

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

$42

Nipple + lip ointment 

HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

$28

Belly tattoos

HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

$18

This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

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Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

You've got this.

Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

The Motherly Birth Class

pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

$79

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This post is sponsored by BABYBJÖRN. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


Secret Agent play set

Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Stepping Stones

Stepping-stones

Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

$99.99

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Sensory play set

kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$19.95

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Foam pogo stick

Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

$16.99

Dumptruck 

green-toys-dump-truck

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

$22

Hopper ball

Hopper ball

Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

$14.99

Pull-along ducks

janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$16.99

Rocking chair seesaw

Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

$79.99

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$79.99

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

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Extended breastfeeding just happened for me—and I'm in no rush to end it

My son is two and a half and still nursing, and it's what makes sense for us.

eclipse images/ Getty

When I became pregnant with my first child, I assumed that I would breastfeed. I also assumed that I would pump and give bottles. I even had all the bottles, a bottle warmer, and a bottle drying rack all ready to go. I made sure I got my pump before the baby came, so I was ready. But then, I actually tried pumping a couple of times and hated it. It was tedious, time-consuming, and not as effective, so nursing was the standard between my two children. It came naturally for me, and I found it the easier of the two options since I stayed home with them anyway. I was always there when they needed it.

I was able to breastfeed my first until she was two and a half, at which point, I was seven months pregnant with her brother. Between the hormones, being touched out, and being uncomfortable, I decided to fully wean her. It had been coming for some time because the clock was ticking on getting her to sleep on her own before the new baby came since we had been co-sleeping up to this point.

I cut night feedings first, moved her to her own bed, and then weaned her completely as I went along in my pregnancy. She still wanted to nurse to sleep, but I had to stop eventually because I was so uncomfortable. My body and brain could not take it anymore, but I'm proud I made it that far with her and that I nursed that far into pregnancy.

When my second child came around, my son, breastfeeding was not only easier, but I found myself here: extended breastfeeding.


He recently passed two and a half, which is where my daughter stopped, and he is still co-sleeping. He still nurses quite a bit, because his tummy hurts because of constipation issues. He still uses it to soothe and help him go back to sleep at night. He's getting too big to stay in our bed much longer, but I'm in no rush to wean him completely until he's ready.

Being able to stay home with them has definitely fostered the breastfeeding relationship. Cuddling is a huge part of it, too, and I'll continue to breastfeed until it makes sense to stop.

While my husband doesn't always agree with that philosophy and tells him that he's a big boy and can be done having milk, it's ultimately not up to him. I told my son that we would work through it together.

It is still an emotional connection thing, and at the same time, it still has benefits for him. He's still getting nutrients especially designed for him. He's still getting supplemental nutrition while he doesn't want to eat as much otherwise if his stomach is hurting.

My body has been doing this for a long time. I'm used to it. While I get touched out some days, I also know how helpful breastfeeding still is to help him settle down and how much he still appreciates it. I don't feel the need to cut him off quickly—both for his sake and mine.

I'm also painfully aware that this is probably my last baby. My breastfeeding journey, over five years in the making, will soon be over. As long as he is still getting the benefits and I'm not stressed over it, I'll let it continue on a limited basis. I know it will end soon—it has to. He will be growing up and entering the next stage before I know it. But until then, I'm going to cuddle my baby boy a bit longer. I'm going to let him nurse at certain times and in certain situations.

I never intended to do extended breastfeeding with either of them, but it just happened naturally. And that's okay. You need to do what makes the most sense and do what your intuition tells you is right for your family.

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