In the day cares that stayed open, fewer than .2% of kids got COVID-19

What day cares that never closed can teach us as states fully reopen.

In the day cares that stayed open, fewer than .2% of kids got COVID-19

Day cares are beginning to open back up, but a regular day there looks different these days—there's no Play Doh, no water tables, temperature checks at the door and fewer friends in the classroom.

There are a lot of rules now, but luckily day care operators also have some examples to follow as a small number of day care centers for essential workers never closed down during the pandemic. Staff at these centers have been working hard for the last few months making sure that day care is as safe as possible, while still feeling like a secure and comforting place for children.

And it's paid off. According to Brown University economist Emily Oster's informal analysis, in 545 childcare centers that stayed open confirmed cases of COVID-19 in students were rare. About .16% of kids (so about 22 children in a cohort of 13,493) contracted COVID-19.

This means that the hard work childcare providers have been doing during the pandemic has paid off, and aligns with the results of multiple studies indicating that people under 20 are less likely to contract the disease.

"We do have a big responsibility. I mean, children who are not your children—you know, it's a life that we have in our hands," California day care provider Sylvia Hernandez tells NPR. Like Hernandez, most people in the industry take this very seriously and the good news is that some companies that have been operating throughout the pandemic have not seen spread within the centers.

Stephen Kramer is the CEO of Bright Horizons, the largest provider of employer-sponsored childcare in the United States. He tells CNN, "People should take confidence in the fact that we continue to operate 150 centers across the country, and we would never be doing that if we couldn't be doing it in a way that is safe and healthy."

Vidhya Somanathan is closer to the front lines of childcare as the assistant director at Building Kidz preschool in Folsom, California. Building Kidz stayed open during the pandemic so that essential workers could work. As reported by Marlei Martinez of KCRA, Building Kidz followed all the guidelines from the State of California and the Centers for Disease Control and implemented temperature checks for all staff and students, limited drop-offs to the lobby with only one family allowed in at at time, limited class sizes to six kids and devoted plenty of time to sanitizing everything.

"I have a family at home and I obviously don't want to be taking back anything to them," says Somanathan, who is a mom to a 3-year-old. All the precautions and hard work at Building Kidz has paid off, as no children or staff members have gotten sick.

Now, more and more day care centers and day homes are reopening and hope to achieve what Somanathan's staff has and keep their charges COVID-19 free. Some smaller centers and day homes are asking parents to help minimize the risk of spread by not taking their children to places like the grocery store and maintaining social distancing outside of day care, and most larger centers are focused on best practices that proved effective in the essential worker day cares back in March, April and May.

Here's what else parents should expect as day cares reopen:

  • Expect staggered drop offs and to have your child's temperature checked at the entrance.
  • Expect your day care to be maintaining a disinfecting schedule, and that stuffed toys and other harder to clean items will be taken out of the rotation.
  • Expect fewer children in classrooms. This will likely make waitlists (which were already long before the pandemic) longer, but by having fewer children in the centers staff are able to maintain more space between children at meals and nap times.
  • Don't expect a no-touch experience. It would not be possible to care for young children without touching them. That is why day care providers have been very cautious about screening staff for potential illnesses and take extensive precautions to prevent the spread of illness.
  • Expect your day care to adhere to high standards of hygiene and ask about what they are doing to prevent the spread of COVID. Reputable facilities are doing all they can and are preventing the spread.

Sarah Stoliker is the head of the Illinois Directors and Owner of Childcare Centers and has faith that the best practices day cares committed to when serving essential workers will continue. "It's no accident that centers that were permitted to operate during the early stages of the crisis [in Illinois] did not record any COVID-19 cases," she told the Daily Herald. "Day care centers are run by professionals who work year round on healthy habits, sanitation and the detection and control of diseases."

[A version of this post was originally published June 11, 2020. It has been updated.]

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're 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 toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

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.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

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


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

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


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop 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.


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.


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.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

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.


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.


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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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