Here's everything we know about COVID-19 and kids

We'll continue to keep this updated as new guidelines emerge.

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As we inch closer to a post-COVID-19 world, parents with young children still have many lingering questions. A return to normal daily life seems within our grasp, but what does this mean for unvaccinated children? And how should families with young children safely proceed going forward?

As we acclimate to fewer adults wearing masks, there are some reassuring facts for families to know. With warmer weather, more children will be spending time outdoors, where virus transmission is rare. And children are less likely to infect each other, so the number of outbreaks in schools has been low. Lastly, with nearly 40,000 new cases, as of May 25th, the United States saw the lowest number of weekly Covid-19 cases among children since early October, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

While we keep informed of the latest CDC guidelines for children and evolving mask mandates (which can vary by state), we're considering the overarching questions that all families with unvaccinated children continue to ask.

Every day, we're learning more about COVID-19 and how it impacts our children. Here's the very latest:

Will my child need to wear a mask when he returns to school in the fall?

It depends. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that everyone over the age of two continues to wear a mask in school, regardless of their vaccination status. The CDC says that fully vaccinated teachers and students don't have to wear a mask in the classroom—but unvaccinated students do.

There's no national mandate regarding mask wearing and schools, so it's important to check with your child's school system for their guidance before ditching the mask for good. Your school may require students to wear masks anyway, despite the CDC's stance or your child's vaccination status.

I've heard that children will only have mild COVID symptoms. Is that true?

​While there is evidence that children are more likely to be asymptomatic or experience mild to moderate symptoms of COVID than adults, it is possible for children to have severe cases.

Case in point: Mississippi is currently seeing a surge in severe pediatric COVID-19 cases, due to a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant. According to state health official Dr. Thomas Dobbs, there are currently seven children in intensive care units, with two on life support.

In a series of tweets, Dr. Dobbs said that "pretty much ALL cases in MS are Delta variant right now" and that the vast majority of all cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated population.

"Please be safe and if you are 12 or older - please protect yourself," he tweeted.

Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told local news station WAPT, "We have had more pediatric admissions than we had early in the pandemic."

We know that COVID impacts each patient differently and it can be difficult to estimate just how sick they'll get. To protect yourself and your children, officials urge anyone who is eligible to receive a vaccine to do so, and to continue social distancing and mask-wearing when appropriate.

When will kids under 12 be able to get the vaccine?

Moderna now joins Pfizer in offering a vaccine for kids ages twelve to seventeen. But what about younger children? According to the New York Times, because kids of different ages can have varying responses to vaccines, it is standard practice to test older children first to study their response, thus potentially modifying the dosage a younger child would receive. The good news is that studies in younger children have begun. In fact, Pfizer and Moderna clinical trials are currently assessing the efficacy and safety of their vaccines in babies as young as 6 months.

If the results of the trials are as positive as they are expected to be, it's looking like young children could be eligible for the vaccine in the coming months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading infectious-disease specialist, has projected that children as young as 4 years old (and younger) "would likely be able to get vaccinated by the time we reach the end of calendar year 2021 and at the latest, into the first quarter of 2022."

If my child contracts COVID, how will it affect them?

According to the CDC, symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in adults and children and can look like colds, strep throat, or allergies. The most common symptoms in children are fever and cough, but children may exhibit other signs, from shortness of breath to nausea or vomiting (see the full list of COVID-19 symptoms in children here). Per CDC guidelines, if your child tests positive, monitor their symptoms, paying close attention to fever, sore throat, an uncontrolled cough and diarrhea/vomiting. Consider who your child has come into contact with and keep your child at home during this time. Contact your healthcare provider on the best way to proceed.

With more than 74 million children in the United States, the CDC reports that there have been about 300 COVID-19 deaths and a few thousand serious illnesses (comparatively, the CDC registered 188 flu-related deaths in children during the 2019-2020 flu season). Parents can be relieved that children's risk of illness from COVID-19 is as low as it is for the flu.

And there's more uplifting news: as stated above, with nearly 40,000 new cases, the US saw the lowest number of weekly Covid-19 cases among children since early October, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What are the long-term COVID risks in kids?

"Although kids tend not to be so badly affected by COVID-19 and often have asymptomatic or mild cases, we are seeing kids who have decreased exercise tolerance, joint pain, fatigue, and brain fog after COVID-19 infection," says Katharine Clouser, M.D., a pediatric hospital medicine specialist at Hackensack Meridian Children's Health.

Dr. Clouser says you might notice that children with lasting symptoms related to a previous COVID-19 infection may experience the following:

  • a struggle to make it through the day in school
  • exhaustion
  • trouble concentrating
  • increased difficulty with schoolwork, leading to lower-than-usual grades
  • decreased performance in athletics compared to their pre-COVID level
  • fatigue or breathing problems while participating in sports

"In older kids, you may notice a behavior change or observe that something is just 'off,'" said Dr. Clouser. "Your child may even say that they just don't feel right."

As stated by Hackensack Meridian Children's Health, "you should be concerned if your child, who normally enjoys the playground, now prefers to sit on a bench and watch others."

How does the mask mandate affect kids?

As vaccinations increase and COVID-19 case numbers fall, health experts continue to recommend that children wear masks in indoor and group settings. This is frustrating for many parents, as they now see adults out in public who no longer have to wear them. However, Dr. Kengo Inagaki, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, tells ABC News that the United States still has a ways to go in its vaccination efforts, and transmission is still a problem.

"People of any age can share the virus," he told ABC News. "So even with kids, it's best to have them wear the mask to reduce the risks."

Dr. Rob McGregor, Chief Medical Officer at Akron Children's Hospital, says, "the CDC recommends that children continue to wear masks when they are in public, especially indoors or in large crowds, until they are eligible for the vaccine." To support their young children, vaccinated parents should also continue to wear masks in public spaces or large gatherings until the whole family is vaccinated. For indoor public spaces, families with vaccinated adults should assess the risk versus benefit to each gathering, because you won't be able to know who has been vaccinated and who has not. If you do go indoors, all family members should remain masked.

When will kids officially go back to school?

In a recent interview with the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, Motherly asked about the safe reopening of schools. Secretary Cardona responded, "It's critical that it's safe. What we're finding is with the rollout of vaccination, with the new guidance from CDC and with the data that we're seeing that shows that schools are not places where there's spread happening if mitigation strategies are followed, I'm really confident that we should be open now for in-person learning for all students and it can be done safely. But I expect that in the summer and in the fall, that our default is every day in-person option should be offered for every student."

With news this week that New York City will require in-person learning this fall, it's expected that more school districts across the country will follow suit while continuing to enforce COVID-19 prevention methods, like mask-wearing and physical distancing.

What can families with unvaccinated children safely do this summer?

In a recent survey of 828 health experts ranging from epidemiologists to pediatric infectious disease physicians, the vast majority said that while children still need to wear masks and be socially distant, "minimally risky activities could help counteract the mental health effects of pandemic living.""Kids need to be able to be kids," said Mac McCullough, an associate professor at Arizona State University. "Outdoor activity isn't perfectly safe, but its benefits are likely to outweigh its risks across an entire population."While the experts emphasized that specific activities should depend on the exact circumstances and on local case rates, despite that uncertainty, children could still go inside public places or be in outdoor crowds, as long as they wore masks.

While more than half of experts said unvaccinated children from different families should not gather indoors, just over one-third said families could gather indoors if they limited the number of families they saw this way (like in a pod).

Alternatively, "almost two-thirds of the experts said unvaccinated children should still wear masks while at playgrounds or playing sports outdoors, even though the virus is much less likely to spread outside."

And with summer travel ramping up, 86% of experts said it is most likely safe for children to fly this summer, as long as they and everyone else on the plane is fully masked. That being said, parents should consider double-masking children and limiting the number and length of flights. In general, traveling by car is preferable.

For more details on the study results, see here.

Can unvaccinated children visit grandparents?

Dr. Sandra Kesh, Deputy Medical Director and Infectious Disease Specialist at WestMed Medical Group says, "Yes, this is a wonderful reason to get vaccinated. I would still encourage mask use, especially when socializing indoors and if the child is exposed to other children at school, but these visits can and should happen! This has been a particularly trying year for our grandparents, and vaccination allows us to resume the family visits that mean so much to them."

This story was originally published on May 26. 2021.


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.


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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)

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.

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