There is a love language that is shared by babies, cats, dogs and other family pets.
Many people erroneously believe that it is in the best interest of a new baby not to expose them to pets. All too often, once adored pets – furry family members – are surrendered, banished to the yard or basement, or worse, to shelters because of the arrival of a new baby. This is such a sad fact however, because nothing could be further from the truth. Of course new parents want to protect their children, and can be a tad over protective when it comes to a cat climbing into a crib or play yard to investigate a new smell or sound. Some parents squeal in horror as the family dog delivers a sloppy smooch that covers a newborn’s face. But these actions on the part of the pet are completely normal, and it’s their way of saying “hello” to the baby.
Several studies have shown that dogs and cats can provide babies and toddlers with a wide variety of health benefits, so it actually makes sense to include the pet in the celebration of new life in the family.
This pet will become a best friend, and provide your young child with a companion that will help teach them about playing, expressing love and the importance of sharing.
Pets, especially dogs, are empathetic creatures, and sense emotional changes, especially sadness. They nestle into the crook of a child’s arm when he is at his most vulnerable to give unconditional love and provide cheer. They listen carefully, and never, ever tell your child’s secrets. Your dog is also highly likely to take on a guardianship role in your baby’s life. There are many stories of family pets literally risking their own lives to save the lives of their people. Love is a given and loyalty a guarantee. Some of those stories are shared in “I Lost My Best Friend Today-Dealing With The Loss of a Beloved Pet” available on www.ArtichokePress.com
Of course, you should be careful about how you introduce your fur-baby to your new baby. According to an article by the ASPCA, you should take a seat in a quiet room with your baby in your lap1. Have another family member leash the dog and as he enters the room, stay calm and talk to the dog in a happy voice. Praise your dog and reward him with treats for any calm behavior he demonstrates in checking out the baby because you want the dog to associate the baby with good things.
If you are worried, you can sit your newborn in a safe play yard and let the pet sit just outside, as a protected way to allow them to interact…or put the pet inside the play yard with the baby outside to let the dog explore the new smells. This is OK, since good play yards are usually washable.
What Are the Health Benefits?
1. Reduced Risk of Certain Infections
According to “Study: Why Dogs and Cats Make Babies Healthier,” published by Time on 9 July, 2012, a study from Finland was published indicating that babies who live in a household with a dog are 31 percent less likely to develop a respiratory tract infection during the first year of their life than those without a dog present2. Cats were also found to provide a boost in health, but it was only by 6 percent. The risk of developing an inner ear infection drops by 44 percent when there is a dog living in the house, and the need for antibiotics before hitting the age of one drops by 29 percent.
2. Increased Self-Esteem
A study published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology” found that pet guardians tend to be more extroverted and less fearful, and they also experience a reduction in loneliness and a boost in self-esteem. The study indicated that pets provide social support, and this is linked to many positive physical and psychological benefits. In other words, your family dog is likely to become your baby’s first best friend, and this can help them when they become old enough to begin forging friendships with other children.
3. Allergy Protection
“Study: Living With Pets May Protect Infants From Allergies” highlighted a 2011 study showcased the long-lasting impact a dog or cat can have on overall health3. This particular study followed 566 children from birth until the age of 18. The results indicated that having a dog around during infancy provided a 50 percent reduction in the risk of developing allergies, and cats were linked to a 48 percent lower risk. Therefore, if you are worried about your four-legged companion causing your baby to have allergies, the reality is quite the opposite, and that this is not a viable concern in a majority of cases.
4. Petting a Dog Just Makes People Feel Better
According to a report by MSNBC, researchers have determined that petting a dog for 15 minutes boosts the hormones that cause feelings of happiness, and it also causes a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure. This makes having a dog a positive addition to any household, and you should encourage your children to enjoy properly petting the family dog.
There are several other health benefits associated with having a dog that can help your entire family, including stabilization of cardiac conditions and high blood pressure. With all of these perks, it is no wonder that 47 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog. Keep in mind that there are times a fussy baby doesn’t want to be bothered with an over-enthusiastic puppy or kitten, and you can easily place your infant inside of their crib or utilize another applicable piece of baby equipment, like the Target Ingenuity washable playard with dream centre whenever they need a break from their furry friends.
Lisa Becker is a professional writer and animal advocate. While she can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t have a personal menagerie of cats and dogs, she finds her “fur-babies” especially comforting as she fills her empty nest with the pitter patter of little paws.
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