Managing your child’s eczema? A psychodermatologist explains the important link between skin and stress

Teaching your child to reduce stress can set them up for a lifetime of healthier skincare habits.

baby-with-eczema-on-cheeks
natashayummyphoto/Twenty20

If your child is suffering from eczema, you know the struggle: the endless scratching, the sleepless nights, the constant overwhelm of prescriptions and appointments and tricks you've been meaning to try. You're likely already working with a pediatrician or dermatologist to find the right treatment plan—and that's the best first step. But did you know there's a huge connection between stress and eczema? That means your child's mental health—and your own–could be impacting their atopic dermatitis, too.

Like many of life's little problems that seem to spiral out of control, inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and mental health share a mind-body feedback loop: Inflammation in the skin can communicate with the brain—causing anxiety, depression, tiredness and foggy thinking. At the same time, all that stress can trigger more inflammation...which causes more stress...which triggers more inflammation...and the vicious cycle continues.

The science on this is clear—and that's why organizations like the American Academy of Dermatology and the National Eczema Association promote stress-reduction methods like solid sleep and mindfulness as important tools for treating conditions like eczema.


What's a lot less clear is exactly how this information should be applied to young kids. Sure, we know that sleep is essential for skin repair and a daily meditation practice can significantly reduce stress—but where does that leave our littlest ones, the ones who suffer from high rates of eczema but aren't exactly pros when it comes to their wellness routines? The ones who aren't always capable of articulating how they're feeling? The ones whose sleep patterns are understandably unpredictable?

"Family dynamics come into major play when working to reduce stress in kids," explains Amy Wechsler, M.D., a psychodermatologist (she's double board-certified in dermatology and psychiatry, and specializes in the intersection of both fields) and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection.

Much like the body and mind are connected, so are you and your child. Here's what you need to know about how stress affects their skin—and how your stress affects their skin—when it comes to managing eczema.


Stress increases cortisol, which causes trouble for the skin

When it comes to cortisol—the body's chief stress hormone—balance is everything. "Too much cortisol causes trouble," explains Dr. Wechsler. "You want it around when you need it, and gone when you don't."

Cortisol gets pumped up in stressful situations: When the body is under physical or emotional duress (yes, like when your babe wakes up screaming in the middle of the night), it goes into fight-or-flight mode and amps the production of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. But when the body produces too much cortisol, it can suppress the immune system and cause an inflammatory response in the skin.

Dr. Wechsler says it's especially important to help kids avoid chronic stress, which happens when they're under prolonged or back-to-back attacks without relief. "Chronic stress can cause the epidermis to become leaky," says Dr. Wechsler. "The skin becomes more dry and also lets in potential allergens and sensitizers—the exact opposite of what's good for an eczema patient," she says.

Sleep is essential for keeping cortisol levels low

So how, exactly, can we keep cortisol levels under control in kids? One very simple answer is solid sleep—for both little ones and their parents. "It would be difficult to overstate the importance of sleep," says Dr. Wechsler. "Cortisol is lowest during sleep, which is why good sleep is so important. It gives the body a break and allows time for the skin to heal."

Think of it like this: The more hours of restorative sleep your child is getting, the less time they're spending with raised cortisol and the more time they're spending with the good molecules that heal—like endorphins, growth hormones and oxytocin.

Plus, Dr. Wechsler points out that when a child isn't sleeping, the parents usually aren't sleeping either—which can increase stress in the parents that trickles down to the child. (Keep reading for more on how stress flows both ways in the parent-child dyad.)

Your all-important mission: Figure out the best sleep strategy for your family—by any means necessary. Considering co-sleeping? Research shows that mamas who co-sleep get more sleep than those who don't. Perhaps you need an expert intervention? A sleep consultant can personalize a sleep strategy that's unique to your child.

Address the itch to improve sleep and reduce stress

Another big barrier to sleep—and healing? The awful itch factor that many kids with eczema experience, which can disrupt sleep and set off another snowball effect. "It's another chicken and egg thing, because if kids are really itchy with eczema, that can impact their sleep," says Dr. Wechsler. "And then if they're not sleeping well, they're not healing as fast—because healing happens during sleep."

Keep in mind that itchiness is subjective and will present differently for every kid: Some might have large patches of eczema that aren't bothersome at all, while others might have small, isolated flare-ups that keep them up at all hours of the night and distracted during the day. (Which both—you guessed it!—lead to more stress.)

To break the itch-scratch cycle, Dr. Wechsler says it's important to address food and environmental allergies, implement an eczema-friendly skincare routine and enlist help from an oral antihistamine when necessary (just ask your ped). "When we follow this protocol, it's common to see itchy skin—and sleepless nights—improve very quickly," says Dr. Wechsler.

Mindfulness and meditation provide major health benefits for kids

Breathwork, mindfulness, meditation and gentle movement aren't the typical activities that come to mind for kids—especially babies and toddlers. But we're doing our kids a major disservice if we underestimate their interest and ability to learn these techniques, which can help them feel better in their bodies and boost their overall health—skin included.

There's plenty of fascinating research on the power of mindfulness for stress reduction in kids—like a new study out of Stanford University School of Medicine that shows kids who practice mindfulness not only sleep longer, but also gain a better awareness of their stress and stronger skills for coping with it.

So what's the key to teaching stress reduction techniques? "I've found that kids are surprisingly capable in these areas, especially when we model it for them," says Dr. Wechsler. Getting started doesn't need to feel formal or forced; start small and introduce little habits into your daily routine, then build until these techniques are organically woven throughout every day.

Stack your child's shelves with books that introduce mindfulness (try Listen Like An Elephant or Breathe Like a Bear from Kira Willey), grab a deck of mindfulness cards for kids and play quick games (like "drop anchor") and mini moments (like "the mindful bite"). Look to technology for help, too: Queue up CosmicKids yoga and mindfulness classes on YouTube (there's a theme for every kid's interest), and start a shared breathwork practice with apps like Breathwrk or Mindful Mamas.

Don't underestimate the healing power of your touch

Applying lotion (and then applying it again and again) is a fact of life for many families with eczema—but it's also an opportunity to elevate a simple skincare task into something more special.

"Kids need their parents' hands on them," says Dr. Wechsler. "A gentle body rub while massaging in cream after a bath can be a very relaxing experience that lowers cortisol levels, increases circulation and boosts helpful hormones like oxytocin and endorphins."

Of course, it's important to use the right body lotion or oil on eczematous skin—something that offers maximum benefits without any stinging or discomfort. Dr. Wechsler suggests pure safflower oil or a fragrance-free cream like Cetaphil Pro Eczema Soothing Moisturizer or Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Flare-Up Treatment).

To reduce stress in your child, start with yourself first

You're devoted to taking care of your child—but when's the last time you checked in on the person who's responsible for them? "Sometimes you're so focused on your kid that you forget about yourself," says Dr. Wechsler. "But we can't talk about managing the toddler's stress without talking about managing the parents' stress, too." Once again, it's all interconnected.

Dr. Wechsler explains that when parents struggle to manage their own stress or mental health, it can negatively impact their child's treatment—whether it's by failing to stay on top of their at-home skin treatment plan, or by projecting your own stress and compounding theirs.

Let's look at scratching as an example. For a child with itchy eczema, the urge to scratch can be overwhelming and hard to ignore. And for the parent, all that scratching can be triggering: You're worried they'll damage their skin or cause an infection! It's irritating! You've reminded them dozens of times not to do it and they just. won't. listen!

In these trying times, it's more important than ever to stay calm and collected. Dr. Wechsler says problems arise when parents aren't able to react mindfully, but find themselves snapping, nagging or bringing negative attention to the issue (which can increase stress in the child) instead. To model a healthy response, Dr. Wechsler suggests taking a few deep breaths and then calmly redirecting the child to a tactile, hands-on activity (great for diverting their minds and fingers away from the itch) or teaching them to grab a cooling ice pack to calm the flare-up.

And just remember to keep things in perspective. "I have seen cases of children in my practice who have mild eczema and are totally fine, but then it's the parents who are really upset and not handling their emotions well," says Dr. Wechsler. "Kids pick up on reactions and emotions. If the parents are showing their child their anxiety, worry or stress, the child will often feel that way, too." She suggests working through those emotions when you're alone with a partner, friend or therapist.

If you feel overwhelmed or extremely anxious about your child's skin condition, Dr. Wechsler recommends checking in with yourself first. "Just take a moment to reflect and notice how you're feeling and how you're sleeping," she says. If you're struggling, identify the areas where you can get help—and don't be ashamed to ask for it. To take the absolute best care of the little one you love, it's essential to start with yourself.

Kelsey Haywood Lucas is a writer and editor who focuses on skincare, self-care and mindful motherhood. Kelsey is passionate about helping moms stay mindful and archive their motherhood journeys—follow her on Instagram or sign up for her newsletter at kelseylucas.com to get helpful tips, journal prompts, inspirational ideas and more.
https://www.instagram.com/bykelseylucas

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    When you ask any two mamas to share their experience with breastfeeding, you are bound to get very unique answers. That's because while the act of breastfeeding is both wonderful and natural, it also comes with a learning curve for both mothers and babies.

    In some cases, breastfeeding won't be the right path for everyone. But with the right tools, resources and social support systems, we can make progress toward the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to continue breastfeeding through the first year of a child's life. After all, breastfeeding helps nourish infants, protects them against illnesses, develops their immune systems and more. Not to mention that mothers who breastfeed experience reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

    With National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this month, it's a great time for mamas (and expectant mamas!) to gather the supplies that will support their feeding journey—whether it looks like exclusively breastfeeding, pumping or combo-feeding.

    Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

    Designed for regular use, this double electric breast pump allows mamas to customize the cycle and vacuum settings that work for them. The 100% SoftShape™ silicone shields on this pump form-fit to a wide range of breast shapes and sizes—which means more comfortable, more efficient pumping. And every pump comes with two complete Dr. Brown's Options+ bottles, giving you everything you need to go from pumping to feeding.

    $159.99

    Dr. Brown’s™ Breast Milk Collection Bottles

    There's no need to cry over spilled milk—because it won't happen with these storage bottles! Make the pump-to-feeding transition simpler with Dr. Brown's Milk Collection Bottles. The bottles adapt to Dr. Brown's electric pumps to easily fill, seal and transport, and they work with Dr. Brown's bottle and nipple parts when your baby's ready to eat. (Meaning no risky pouring from one bottle to another. 🙌)

    $9.99

    Breast Milk Storage Bags

    With an extra-durable design and double zip seal, your breast milk will stay fresh and safe in the fridge or freezer until it's needed. Plus, the bags are easy to freeze flat and then store for up to six months, so your baby can continue drinking breast milk long after you are done nursing.

    $9.99

    Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump with Options+™ Bottle & Bag

    Here's something they don't tell you about breastfeeding ahead of time: While feeding your baby on one side, the other breast may "let down" milk, too. With this one-piece Silicone Breast Pump, you don't have to let those precious drops go to waste. The flexible design makes pouring the milk into a bottle stress-free.

    $14.99

    Dr. Brown’s® Manual Breast Pump

    No outlet in sight? No worries! With this powerful-yet-gentle Manual Breast Pump, you can get relief from engorgement, sneak in some quick midnight pumping or perform a full pumping session without any electricity needed. With Dr. Brown's 100% silicone SoftShape™ Shield, the hand-operated pump is as comfortable as it is easy to use. Complete with Dr. Brown's® Options+™ Anti-Colic Wide-Neck Bottle, a storage travel cap and cleaning brush, consider this the breastfeeding essential for any mama who has places to go.

    $29.99

    Options+™ Anti-Colic Baby Bottle

    With the soft silicone nipple and natural flow design of these bottles, your baby can easily switch between breast and bottle. Clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to the vent, your baby can enjoy a happy tummy after feeding sessions—without as much spit-up, burping or gas! By mimicking the flow and feel of the breast, these bottles help support your breastfeeding experience.

    $7.99

    This post is sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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    7 hacks for simplifying after-school snacks

    Prepping delicious and nutritious foods shouldn't take all day.

    When you're in the middle of the school year and managing a family, each minute of time becomes very precious. Sometimes that means healthy food choices in the household can take a backseat. But don't stress it, mama. Prepping delicious and nutritious choices for the kids to munch on doesn't need to take all day.

    Remember to keep it fun, simple and interactive! Here are tips for simplifying after-school snacks once and for all:

    1. Prep snacks on Sunday

    This simple trick can make the rest of the week a breeze. Tupperware is your friend here, you can even write different days of the week on each container to give the kids a little surprise every day. I really like storage with compartments for snack prep. Personally, I slice apples, carrots or cucumbers to pair with almond butter and hummus—all great to grab and go for when you're out all day and need some fresh variety.

    2. When in doubt, go for fruit

    Fruit is always a quick and easy option. I suggest blueberries, clementine oranges, apples, frozen grapes or even unsweetened apple sauce and dried fruit, like mixed fruit. It's fun to put together a fruit salad, too. Simply cut up all the fruit options and let the kids decide how they'd like to compile. Prepped fruit is also great to have on hand for smoothies, especially when it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days—throw it in the blender with some nut milk and voila.

    3. Pair snacks with a dip

    Hummus is a great dip to keep on hand with lots of versatility or you can grab a yogurt-based dip. Easy and healthy dippers include pre-sliced veggies, baby carrots and multigrain tortilla chips. Plain hummus is a great way to introduce seasonings and spices too—shake a little turmeric, add fresh basil and you'd be surprised what your kids will take to.

    4. Have high-protein options readily available

    Snacks with high protein, like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs and jerky will fuel kids for hours. One of my favorites is a turkey stick, which is a fun addition to the hummus platter. Just slice into bite-sized pieces. I love cottage cheese because it can go savory or sweet, use as a dip with your prepped veggies, or drizzle pure maple syrup and sprinkle with berries.

    5. Always keep the pantry stocked

    Monthly deliveries keeps the pantry updated without a trip to grocery store. Many kids are big fans of popcorn, granola and pretzels. We like to DIY our own snack packs with a little popcorn, pretzels, nuts and whatever else is in the pantry so there's always something different!

    6. Make cracker tartines

    I love the idea of replicating popular restaurant dishes for kids. Here are some of my favorite snack-sized tartines using any crisp bread, or favorite flat cracker of your choice as the base. There are no rules and kids love adding toppings and finding new combinations they love.

    • Avocado crackers: Use a cracker and then layer with thinly sliced avocado, a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese topped with roasted pepitas or sunflower seeds.
    • Tacos: The base for this is a black bean spread—just drain a can of black beans, rinse and place into a wide bowl. With a fork or potato masher, lightly smush the beans until chunky. Spread onto your cracker and top with tomato, cheddar cheese and black olives. Try out a dollop of super mild salsa or some lime zest to introduce some new flavor profiles.
    • A play on PB&J: Smear peanut butter, almond or a favorite sun butter on the cracker. I like to get a mix it up a bit and put fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries and tiny diced apples) and a little bit of dried fruit sprinkled on top.

    7. Pre-make smoothie pops

    The easy part about meal prep is the prep itself, but knowing exactly how much to make ahead is tricky. Freeze a smoothie in popsicle molds to have a healthy treat ready-to-go snack. They're super simple to make: Add any fruit (I like apples, berries, pineapples and mangoes) and veggies (carrots, steamed beet and wilted kale) to a blender with your favorite nut milk until you have consistency just a bit thinner than a smoothie. Pour into your trusty reusable popsicle molds and then into the freezer to make an ice pop so good they could eat them for breakfast.

    Family Foodies

    15 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.


    Stomp Racers

    As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

    $19.99

    Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

    Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

    Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

    $139

    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

    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

    Sand play set

    B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

    For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

    $17.95

    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.

    $24.75

    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

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    Even 5 hours of screen time per day is OK for school-aged kids, says new study

    Researchers found screen time contributes to stronger peer relationships and had no effect on depression and anxiety. So maybe it isn't as bad as we thought?

    MoMo Productions/Getty Images

    If you've internalized some parental guilt about your own child's screen time usage, you're not alone. Numerous studies have shown that exposure to significant amounts of screen time in children leads to an increased risk of depression and behavioral issues, poor sleep and obesity, among other outcomes. Knowing all this can mean you're swallowing a big gulp of guilt every time you unlock the iPad or turn on the TV for your kiddo.

    But is screen time really that bad? New research says maybe not. A study published in September 2021 of 12,000 9- and 10-year-olds found that even when school-aged kids spend up to 5 hours per day on screens (watching TV, texting or playing video games), it doesn't appear to be that harmful to their mental health.

    Researchers found no association between screen usage and depression or anxiety in children at this age.

    In fact, kids who had more access to screen time tended to have more friends and stronger peer relationships, most likely thanks to the social nature of video gaming, social media and texting.


    The correlations between screen time and children's health

    But those big social benefits come with a caveat. The researchers also noted that kids who used screens more frequently were in fact more likely to have attention problems, impacted sleep, poorer academic performance and were more likely to show aggressive behavior.

    Without a randomized controlled trial, it's hard to nail down these effects as being caused directly by screens. The study's authors analyzed data from a nationwide study known as the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study), the largest long-term study of brain development and children's health in the country. They relied on self-reported levels of screen time from both children and adults (it's funny to note that those reported numbers differed slightly depending on who was asked… ).

    It's important to remember that these outcomes are just correlations—not causations. "We can't say screen time causes the symptoms; instead, maybe more aggressive children are given screen devices as an attempt to distract them and calm their behavior," says Katie Paulich, lead author of the study and a PhD student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. Also worth noting is that a child's socioeconomic status has a 2.5-times-bigger impact on behavior than screens.

    Weighing the benefits with the risks will be up to you as the parent, who knows your child best. And because we live in a digital world, screens are here to stay, meaning parents often have little choice in the matter. It's impossible to say whether recreational screen time is fully "good" or "bad" for kids. It's maybe both.

    "When looking at the strength of the correlations, we see only very modest associations," says Paulich. "That is, any association between screen time and the various outcomes, whether good or bad, is so small it's unlikely to be important at a clinical level." It's all just part of the overall picture.

    A novel look at screen time in adolescents

    The researchers cite a lack of studies examining the relationship between screen time and health outcomes in this specific early-adolescence age group, which is one of the reasons why this study is so groundbreaking. The findings don't apply to younger children—or older adolescents, who may be starting to go through puberty.

    Screen time guidelines do exist for toddlers up to older kids, but up to 1.5 hours per day seems unattainable for many young adolescents, who often have their own smartphones and laptops, or at least regular access to one.

    Of course, more research is needed, but that's where this study can be helpful. The ABCD study will follow the 12,000 participants for another 10 years, following up with annual check-ins. It'll be interesting to see how the findings change over time: Will depression and anxiety as a result of screen time be more prevalent as kids age? We'll have to wait and see.

    The bottom line? Parents should still be the gatekeepers of their child's screen time in terms of access and age-appropriateness, but, "our early research suggests lengthy time on screen is not likely to yield dire consequences," says Paulich.

    Children's health

    Mom and gorilla bond over their babies at the zoo: ‘It was so beautiful’

    The new mothers shared a special moment at a Boston zoo.

    Franklin Park Zoo/YouTube

    Motherhood knows no bounds.

    When Kiki the gorilla spotted a new mom and baby visiting her habitat at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, she immediately took a liking to the pair. Emmelina Austin held her five-week-old son Canyon to the glass so Kiki could get a better look.

    The gorilla spent nearly five minutes happily pointing and staring at baby Canyon.


    Emmelina's husband captured the sweet moment on his phone, in a video that's now gone viral.

    Mother shares unique maternal bond with gorilla (FULL VIDEO) www.youtube.com

    Why was Kiki so interested in her tiny visitor? Possibly because Kiki's a new mom herself. Her fifth baby, Pablo, was born in October.

    Near the end of the video, Kiki scooped up Pablo and held him close. The new moms held their baby boys to the glass and shared a special moment together: just a couple of mothers, showing off their little ones.

    "When I walked into the zoo that day, I never could've imagined that we would have had that experience," Austin told ABC News. "It was so beautiful, and we walked out just over the moon."

    We can't get enough of the sweet exchange. There's something special about sharing your little one with the world. Mothers of all ages, races–and it turns out, species–understand.

    Our favorite viral mama + kid videos