25 Eco-Moms to Watch

Mamas on a mission to make the world a little greener.

25 Eco-Moms to Watch

*We've partnered with Joolz to recognize the moms that are changing the world for their babies, and ours. No doubt about it, parenthood makes you think first and foremost with your heart. From the moment your baby is born, it feels as if you're suddenly walking around wearing your heart on your sleeve. Which in turn makes you hyper-aware of all that is around us and sensitive to issues you never quite paid attention to before (but should have). As parents, it's our job to make the world a better place for the little ones we've brought into it. And the current state of affairs has made many of us even more proactive than ever before. Still, we know balancing life with kids can be all-consuming. So when we learn about moms dedicating their days to creating a better world for not only their kids, but all of ours, we take notice. And we've partnered with Joolz, an eco-minded company focused on positive design, to help you take notice. From eco-activists, to sustainable designers, to green beauty experts and more, here are 25 eco-moms to watch. Be prepared to be inspired -- and thankful -- for all that they do. 1. Lauren Bush Lauren, founder of FEED Projects. Lauren Bush Lauren has been helping children and families since long before she had one of her own. She founded FEED in 2007 as a way to help people fight against hunger in a tangible way, through the purchase of products that bring meals and nutrients to those in need. FEED has since expanded well beyond its signature burlap bags, with a plethora of well-intentioned collaborations and styles, all produced under fair-labor conditions, using environmentally friendly materials whenever possible. And now that Lauren's the mom of a baby boy, we're betting FEED's diaper bags are coming in pretty handy…. 2. Bea Johnson, founder of Zero Waste Home. When Bea Johnson began her family 8 years ago she also set out on a path for the good of the world by dedicating herself and her family to a zero waste lifestyle. That means committing herself to the 5 R's: Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest. Her family of four manages to generate only a quart-size jar of waste per year! Bea now goes around the world giving talks about helping others help themselves and the world. 3. Nasiba Adilova, founder of The Tot. Nasiba Adilova is much more than a pretty face. After she became a mommy, this jet-setting Russian fashionista founded of The Tot, an online shop filled with smartly curated gear and fashion for baby and mom. The site is committed to eco-friendly merchandise, but also features cool collabs and mama advice and recommendations. After testing a pop-up shop in Dallas, The Tot has settled into a permanent location, which will be convenient for Nasiba when she welcomes Baby #2 to her brood this spring. 4. Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician and children's health advocate. As a pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha already dedicates her life to helping children. But it wasn't until 2014 that she became recognized on a national level. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was the doctor that brought the Flint Water Crisis to it's feet. After much denial from the state, Dr. Hanna-Attisha would not ignore her patients complaining of strange systems and elevated lead levels. The graduate of Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Hanna-Attisha conducted her own study that found the percentage of elevated blood lead levels among children in the city had doubled and announced the results at a press conference.

Grace with her Joolz stroller

5. Grace Lee, founder of Nine Naturals. Grace Lee believes personal care products should make you feel and look beautiful without potentially harming you or your children. She was a Wall Street executive when she realized that the beauty aisle was full of hazardous chemicals. When she started shopping for natural brands, she was disappointed by many of them. So she created Nine Naturals and has since dedicated her life to create chemical-free beauty and skincare products that actually work. All of Nine Natural's products are natural, plant based and safe for pregnancy and beyond. 6. Mara Hoffman, fashion designer. When it comes to women's fashion, the terms sustainable and stylish don't often go hand in hand. But everyone's favorite mama designer Mara Hoffman is changing perceptions. She's said that it was the birth of her son that pushed her to go greener, and has since been evolving her fashion line to include more recycled and eco-friendly fabrics and prints. Her latest collections also includes beautiful basics that will stand the test of time, a pushback, she says, against fast fashion and overconsumption.

Nicole with her Joolz stroller

7. Nicole Berrie, founder of Bonberi. It's not easy to make eating broccoli look fun and, dare we say, sexy, but Berrie manages to do both. Her website Bonberi presents a plant-based, sustainable lifestyle that is equally chic and fashionable -- a place where you can talk about wellness with an open mind. Now that she's got a baby, family cooking has become increasingly important, and this year, she'll launch her first e-cookbook, focused on plant-based family friendly meals. In the meantime, you'll find plenty of tools on Bonberi to figure out what “feeling and looking good" means to you -- the kind of support that a lot of us need when trying to live a healthier, more balanced life. 8. Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper. The words “natural" and “beauty" aren't necessarily two that go hand in hand. Unless you're talking about Tata Harper's Next Generation Beauty Line. Tata set out on a mission to give the skincare industry a fresh start with highly effective and luxurious beauty products that are completely free of synthetic ingredients. As a bonus all of Tata's packaging is made without labels so it's one less waste to our environment.

Hana with her Joolz stroller

9. Hana Getachew, founder of Bole Road Textiles. When it comes to interior design, Hana Getachew believes we can do better. Her ethically sourced home decor is all designed in Brooklyn and handwoven in Ethiopia, using ancient weaving traditions, passed down through the generations. The birth of her baby girl in 2016 prompted her to launch Bole Road Baby, filled with beautiful baby blankets, towels and other nursery accents. 10. Krysta Lyn, founder of Yipkids. Finding clothes that your opinionated toddler loves to wear is tough. Finding clothes that they love and you feel good supporting? Even tougher! That's why Krysta Lyn created Yipkids with both her kids and the world they live in mind. Her line is constructed from environmentally responsible materials, and design and manufactured right in her hometown of Long Beach, California.

Kelsey with her Joolz stroller

11. Kelsey Harper, Flower Girl Los Angeles. Floral arrangements at an event are always something to ooh and aah over, especially when it's Kelsey Harper of Flower Girl Los Angeles designing your arrangements. But this impressive mama goes a few steps further. Not only are her flowers seasonal and sourced locally which leaves behind a smaller eco-footprint, but Flower Girl also makes sure to waste as little as possible, implementing composting of all green waste. Now that's a reason to celebrate. 12. Tara Foley, founder of Follain. With all the nasties in much of our skincare and makeup, Tara Foley had a dream to create a healthy alternative. Her first beauty shop opened in Boston in 2013, and she has since expanded to up and down the Northeast Corridor, providing a curated selection of skin, hair and cosmetic products that are safe (non-toxic), eco-friendly, high-performance, luxe, and U.S.-made. This past year's been a busy one: Tara launched house label, set up shop in NYC and had a baby, giving her a new appreciation for pregnancy and postpartum care. 13. Melissa Wood, health and wellness coach. When it comes to being green, Melissa Wood starts from the inside out. This NYC-based health and wellness coach, yoga teacher and model brings a touch of glam to the healthy, plant-based lifestyle, whether she's leading your fave workout on Fitner App, or gracing the pages of Shape, Women's Health and Pregnancy & Newborn magazines. And with a toddler at home, we know that's no small task! 14. Vani Hari, Food Babe. After a health scare that hospitalized Vani Hari 10 years ago, this new mama, was inspired to live a healthy life, harnessing her energy into investigating what is really in our food. She's spent thousands of hours over the years researching and talking to experts to make sense of this over-processed world we live in. Vani empowers her readers by giving them the knowledge and truth about harmful ingredients in processed foods and how to avoid the stuff the food industry is trying to hide. Something we could all use and pass down to our kids! 15. Paige Wolf, founder of a B Corp-certified PR firm. It takes a lot of willpower to turn down work with brands that don't meet your eco-standards, especially as a small business owner. But PR maven Paige Wolf only works with clients who contribute to a sustainable world and positive change. The Philadelphia mom has built her portfolio out of green lifestyle and nonprofit brands, and is the first certified B Corporation public relations company in her city, meeting comprehensive and transparent social and environmental standards. 16. Shazi Visram, founder of Happy Family Brands. As the founder of Happy Family Brands, mom-of-two Shazi Visram is helping us make our families greener and healthier at the most important time in their life: before their 2nd birthdays. Shazi founded her baby food company 10 years ago (before she was even a mom!) and it has since extended into toddler and prenatal, and launched tons of innovative mealtime solutions. Happy Family Brands is also certified as a B-Corporation, which means it meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. 17. Phyllis Omido, founder the Center for Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action. We typically think of breast milk as nutritional gold, but when mamas are exposed to toxins, it can be anything but healthy. After Kenyan mom Phyllis Omido realized her baby boy had lead poisoning due to her own dangerous chemical exposure at a local plant, she worked to get the plant shut down, and help get support and medical aid for others in the poor community in which she lived. She ultimately founded the Center for Justice, Governance, and Environmental Action and was awarded the Golman Environmental Prize Recipient for her work. 18. Jessika Bailey, founder of Natural Mother Magazine. When Jessika Bailey became a mother, she “fell" into natural parenting quite, well, naturally: she followed her instincts. And in a world of endless information where making decisions for your family can be quite overwhelming, she felt the need to help others be confident in their parenting styles. So she created Natural Mother Magazine and gifted moms and dads with a community where they could share and read stories about gentle parenting and holistic living -- and all of it without judgement. 19. Christine Lolley, founder of design firm Solares. Christine Lolley has long been interested in green home design and sustainable living and, together with Tom Knezic, created Solares. With energy efficiency and affordability in mind, the Solares team provides architectural expertise to design eco-friendly homes and, hopefully, build a more sustainable future. A mother of two, Lolley even built her parents' house, which blends perfectly with its surrounding environment and features temperature regulation techniques that greatly reduce heating needs in the winter and eliminate the need for air conditioning in the summer. 20. Judi Shils, founder of Turning Green. Judi Shils isn't new to activism. She created a campaign that opposed hazardous chemicals in beauty and personal care products and founded Search for the Cause, which probed into the skyrocketing cancer rates in Marin County. With Turning Green, Shils (along with her daughter) broadened her mission to equip high school and college students with the tools to shift mindsets towards sustainable living. Her goal: to empower future leaders to take the helm in the fight for environmental justice. 21. Salma Hayek, actress and activist. Sure, Salma Hayek is a beautiful, talented actress. But she also does her part to live “green" -- even more so now that she's a mom. Hayek hasn't just given her presence and money to environmental causes and charities. She's also served as a board member to Global Green, an organization that builds sustainable and resilient communities and that provides affordable housing to areas in need. And since you can never do enough to nurture Mother Nature, Hayek reportedly installed solar panels on her Los Angeles home. 22. Colleen Wachob, co-founder of mindbodygreen. As Founding Partner and Chief Brand Officer at lifestyle media brand mindbodygreen, Colleen Wachob totally walks the walk. Which is important when you're leading a company that inspires people to live their best life. But that doesn't mean it's her way or the highway. Her and her team work hard to provide their readers with the best info possible about mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, and of course environmental topics for those on their wellness journeys. 23. Rosario Dawson, actress and activist. Rosario Dawson is no stranger to advocating for social changes. She's engaged with various organizations to both protect the planet and help those in need. Her latest project? Studio 189 -- an online platform dedicated to promote and curate African and African-inspired content and brands. Using the world of fashion for social change, Dawson hopes to help African communities in need by empowering women, creating jobs and supporting education. In 2012, Dawson also partnered with SodaStream International to launch the first annual Unbottle the World Day, in an effort to raise awareness to the impact of cans and plastic bottles on the environment. 24. Melinda Olson, founder of Earth Mama Angel Baby. Founder of baby and mama skincare brand, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Melinda Olson began formulating organic herbal remedies for friends in her Oregon kitchen many years ago. From there her love of organic gardening, passion for herbs and desire to find safe products for mamas and babies led to founding Earth Mama Angel Baby, an industry leader in safe, natural and organic herbal products. So you can feel good about what you're putting on baby's skin. 25. Kelly Nichols, activist, educator, and organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. Kelly Nichols grew up roaming the woods of mid-coast Maine and Northern Minnesota, instilling a long-lasting love of nature. With Moms Clean Air Force, she works tirelessly to make the air of her home state, Illinois, cleaner. Moms Clean Air Force is a community of 1,000,000 moms and dads united to fight against air pollution, in the name of our children's health and future. Did we miss an eco-mom that inspires you? Tell us all about her in comments! *This post was sponsored by Joolz. Want to see why every eco-mom is loving their strollers? Check them out here.

In This Article

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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.

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