Everything about this school year feels wrong

But the hard choices could lead to a new, better education system

return to school fall 2020 choice

Some parents desperately need their children to be back in classrooms come September. Others question how schools can possibly keep students and teachers safe as the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States surpasses the 4 million mark. Many parents hold both those concerns at the exact same time.

There is no perfect solution here, and every choice comes with sacrifices. Parents who cannot sacrifice income face the toughest choice—their child or their job.

School re-entry plans differ by location, by size and by socioeconomic support, but in every school district, in every city and state, there is one thing parents can be sure of as September looms: The 2020-2021 school year will be vastly different than every year that came before it.

The back-to-school commercials are still airing on TV, but they reflect our strange new reality—a scene of masked students carrying fresh backpacks down locker-lined hallways cuts to a kid studying at home, books splayed on a new desk.

This year, the pandemic is our teacher, crumpling up our cultural script for K-12 education and demanding a do-over.

We have long relied on a story of standardized education, one that creates an easy shorthand for the experiences of childhood and youth—every neighborhood has schools where bells rings, balls bounce, kindergarteners laugh and teens go to prom—but this script ignores how much of the K-12 experience isn't standardized, but stratified.

In upending our traditional planning for school, the pandemic is giving us an opportunity to rewrite the script for the educational experience. This year, more than any before it, is forcing a recognition of how the current structure wasn't working for all kids, or all parents—even before the virus.

It's time to talk about the different kinds of plans parents are making for their children this year, to normalize having empathy for those whose plans don't mirror our own, and to learn how this interruption to learning can make the future of education better and safer.

Here are some of the diverse decisions parents are making—and the lessons they offer, if we're willing to listen and act.

We need to learn from parents who want kids back in school

For many parents, school closures have had massive impacts on careers or income, with mothers bearing more of the brunt than fathers. It is absolutely understandable these families prefer a return to in-person classes over another semester of distance learning from home.

Utah mom Emily Bell McCormick owns a communication and advocacy consulting firm and shares five kids with her husband, a surgeon. During a recent rally in Salt Lake City in support of in-person schooling, Bell McCormick explained how hard it has been for the couple to communicate with all their kids' teachers while supervising distancing learning and juggling their own demanding work schedules.

"Families are burning out," she explained, adding that she was responding to 18 different teachers while helping her kids with their schoolwork. Her kids say they miss school.

Meanwhile in California, where Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced some schools will not be able to reopen for in-person learning in September, many parents who occupy a lower tax bracket than the McCormicks are worried not just about burnout but about paying the bills, too.

Santa Rosa mom Ariana Beltran says she would actually prefer to homeschool her 6-year-old son, according to EdSource, but the electrician's apprentice cannot afford to stay home with him.

"I don't really have a choice because I work and I'm a single parent," Beltran said.

Her concerns are echoed in a lawsuit filed by a group of California parents trying to have schools reopen. The lawyer for the group says that vulnerable families are being forced to choose between their jobs and their families.

We need to hear the voices of mothers like Bell McCormick and Beltran going forward, not just in 2020, but beyond. The majority of American mothers are working mothers and nearly a quarter of working moms are solo moms who can't make the choice to drop out of the workforce. We can't assume American education involves a stay-at-home parent.

We need to learn from parents who don't want kids back in school

Of course, not every parent wants their child back in an in-person classroom right now, and we need to understand the reasons why—and respect parents for doing what they feel is best for their kids.

Arkansas mom and neuropsychologist Kristin Addison-Brown told the Arkansas Times that she and her husband just didn't feel reassured when they looked at their school's re-entry plan. So they are keeping their 9-year-old home come fall.

"I feel for the school administrators having to deal with this right now. I don't know that they're getting a lot of support from the state and federal government with key decisions they're having to make," says Addison-Brown, who lost an elderly family member to COVID-19 and understands that the pandemic is not over. "They're between a rock and a hard place."

The re-entry plan for the Jonesboro Public School District (released before Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statewide mask mandate for adults), recommended but did not require students or teachers to wear masks.

For Addison-Brown, that means her son's place will be at home for now, even though he would like to return to his social circle at school.

Meanwhile in Utah, mom Penny Brown says she plans to homeschool her children because Gov. Gary Herbert says masks will be required for K-12 schools reopening in his state.

Brown feels the mask requirement will be "strenuous and overbearing and dystopian."

We need to hear the voices of both these mothers, because their opposing positions on school re-entry plans led to the same outcome: Keeping their kids home.

Before we judge or condemn a parent for not trusting their school's reopening plan—either because it's too strict or not strict enough—let's consider how we got here. The lack of a coordinated national response to the pandemic has helped foster a widespread distrust of expert and scientific opinion, while also forcing communities to come up with their own response plans—which are often not just different, but contradictory to each other, so there's no clear "right" path forward. This has created confusion, stress and unnecessary sacrifice for all parents.

We need to learn from parents of kids with disabilities

School districts have made strides toward inclusivity in recent years, but parents of children with disabilities say many school re-entry plans represent a setback in their children's education.

The lawyer representing the group of parents suing the state of California in the hopes of reopening schools says distance learning plans often don't work for diasbled children who require educational supports.

"Special needs children are left out in the cold altogether, despite federal and state mandates," lead attorney Harmeet Dhillon said, adding "California cannot ignore its legal duties and harm these children."

But across the nation, many parents of students who typically receive additional supports or accommodations in their classrooms say those elements were missing in the roll out of distance learning in the spring.

"It has been very frustrating for us," Massachusetts mom Marla Murasko told NPR of distance learning. Her 14-year-old son Jacob has Down Syndrome and typically gets accommodations to the work in his classroom.

"He needs it very simplified in order for him to learn it. If there's no accommodations or modifications for him, he really can't attend to that lesson plan unless I modify it for him."

The added stress of having to modify lesson plans or activities (a responsibility that would usually fall to a teacher or educational assistant in pre-pandemic times) adds an additional layer of stress for parents of disabled kids.

LA mom Renee Bailey had a similar experience, telling KCAL, "Ever since the pandemic, my son has not received any of his contracted services that have been identified in his [Individualized Education Program]."

As the pandemic continues, returning to in-person school this fall is simply not an option for children who have compromised immune systems or other health concerns that make them high-risk for COVID-19. This is especially concerning considering a recent report from the Los Angeles Unified School District (the second-largest school district in the country), which found the participation rate for middle and high school students with disabilities was only 55% during remote learning. But since LA Unified will not be opening campuses this fall, remote learning is the only option.

Children with disabilities are getting left behind in the shift to digital, and as mom Allison Wohl recently wrote from the Washington Post, "technology can and should open doors, not create additional barriers."

We need to listen to the parents of disabled kids when they say their children are not being served right now. Thirty years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act ensured schools would have accommodations like ramps and elevators, and in 2020, during distance learning, extra supports from educational assistants and teachers are the digital equivalent.

We need to learn from parents who have the privilege of choice and those who don't

It's not just kids with disabilities who are getting left behind in the shift to digital learning, it's also kids who don't have access to computers and internet at home, and children whose parents must go to work and cannot be home to assist them in distance learning.

That report from the LA Unified School District didn't just find that disabled kids were missing out during distance learning, but also that more than 50,000 of its Black and Latino middle and high school students didn't regularly participate in digital classes. Homeless children, kids in foster care and those learning English also had low participation rates,

On the other end of the spectrum, a new trend among wealthy white families involves gathering kids together in small groups or so-called learning pods, where all the parents pitch in to commission a private tutor. These pandemic pods illustrate how some kids will always have access to education, and how quickly a crisis can widen the gulf of inequality in our school system.

We need to hear the parents on both ends of this spectrum because allowing a generation of kids to fall through the cracks and go without an education is going to hurt America not just in 2020, but in 2030 and beyond. The wealthy parents who are choosing alternatives to public school are telling society though their choices that the public school system is not meeting their needs in a critical moment. The families who are unable to participate in digital learning because of a lack of access are telling us that for them, this system is broken. America needs to hear what they're saying.

A post-pandemic plan for education in America

While many parents are waiting for things to "get back to normal," it's becoming more and more clear that when it comes to the education system normal wasn't working, and left far too many families vulnerable—to a childcare crisis, to misinformation and to inequality.

It's time to rebuild the school system by investing in education. Decades of chronic underfunding and inequity between school districts meant schools did not have the reserves or staff required to quickly pivot to digital learning. A divestment in education by many states after the 2008 recession meant schools were ill-prepared for what they had to do in 2020, and the Trump administration is currently withholding much-needed financial resources from the nation's schools in an effort to force schools to reopen classrooms.

America's children need an education, whether it's in a classroom or through a computer, and funding schools (fully open or not) is necessary, now. Reopening schools—whether fully in the fall or through a hybrid of digital and in-person learning—is going to take billions of dollars. Republican leaders plan to invest $105 billion in education, with $70 billion earmarked for K-12 education (and about half of that being contingent on schools re-opening), but the debate continues and the plan won't be finalized until next week.

That's unacceptable. It's nearly August and schools needed this money in May. It's time for federal lawmakers to stop sitting and start investing in children and the future of this country. If they do, the next crisis won't be so hard, because our schools will be healthy and ready.

In This Article


    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.


    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. 🙌)


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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!)


    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.


    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.


    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.


    Sensory play set


    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.


    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.


    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.




    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.


    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.


    Pull-along 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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


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


    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