Why Having A Pet Makes Kids (And Families) Stronger + How To Introduce Your Baby To Animals

Pets help make your family and your children become healthier and stronger

Pets, both large and small, have a very special kind of companionship to offer not just your children, but also your family. Not only do they foster cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development for the members of your home, there is also some solid evidence that they help make your family become healthier.

How Exactly Do Pets Help Make Your Children And Family Healthier?

The exposure to pet allergens helps make the immune system of your family and your children much stronger.


A recent study by the University of Alberta suggested that the benefits of growing up closely with a pet can kick in as early as infanthood. According to this study, babies belonging to families with pets, of which 70 percent were dogs, displayed higher levels of two types of microbes that are identified with a lower risk of obesity and allergic disease.

This belief stems from the fact that keeping your environment completely sanitized and germ-free is unhealthy for the members of your family, especially for young children. Most of the household germs are harmless, and by exposing your body to them, your immune system learns to build a defense mechanism against them to protect you. On the other hand, raising your family in squeaky-clean environments leads to a weak immune system that will fire off an allergic response every time it encounters an unfamiliar invader. A much more dangerous result of obsessively clean households is running the risk of your weakened immune system attacking your own body (autoimmune disease), possibly leading to diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.


Families with pet animals are more exposed to pet allergens, such as bacteria that live in a dog or a cat’s mouth. When licked by their pets, these allergens get transferred onto the children as well as the adults. This exposure to pet allergens will over time, make the immune system much stronger and may even change the way it reacts to other allergens.

Therefore, it is no wonder that research suggests that immunosuppressive patients should consider owning pets to reduce their risk of disease.1


Now that is clear that apart from having a loyal companion, your child and your family could possibly benefit from having pets in some not-so-obvious ways, you can start setting the relationship up for a successful bonding right from the beginning.

How To Introduce Your Newborn Baby To Your Pets

If you’ve recently blessed with a baby, you’d be relieved to think that the hard part is finally over, after those nine, long months of pregnancy, labor, and a delivery. Unfortunately, you’re wrong. When bringing a new baby into your home for the first time, your four-legged family members, if not properly prepped, may be the most apprehensive. Whether it is your first child, or your second, or even your third – and you’re wondering how to introduce your infant to your fur babies, here are a few pointers to guide you through the process.


1. Start With The Basics

Brushing up on basic commands will help both you and your pet be more comfortable around the baby.

Brushing up on some basic commands like stay, sit, and down (this is only for dogs) will come in very handy when you need your pet to behave around the baby. This will help both you and your pet be more confident once the baby arrives. In case you’ve never needed to train your dog, it would be a good idea to enroll yourself and your pet into a training class or call a professional trainer home so that you can both practice in familiar territory.


2. Keep Your Pet Involved During The Set Up

Allow your pets to be with you all through the process, and possibly, even with the baby.

Keeping your pets out of your baby’s nursery while you’re setting up the space may cause them to develop negative feelings about that particular area in the house. This negativity could end up being associated with your baby once it arrives. Allow your pets to be with you all through the process, and possibly, even with the baby. Ensure to give them an occasional belly rub, a few treats now and then, or a scratch behind the ears to get them comfortable with this space.


3. Adjust Your Pets’ Routine Slowly And Steadily

Start getting your pets adjusted to certain changes in their schedule slowly, not abruptly.

Having a baby in the house may mean fewer walks for your pets, or being fed at a different time than what they were used to. Start getting your pets adjusted to this change slowly, a few weeks before your baby arrives. You don’t want to make these changes abrupt, for they might result in bad behaviors or accidents.


4. Let Your Pet Get Used To A Baby’s Presence

Getting them familiarized with baby behavior and sounds will help your pets be at ease when your baby arrives home.

You could try requesting a few friends or family members if they’d mind introducing their babies to your pets. This will allow your pets to get used to baby sounds, which can be quite painful for their ears if they’re not used to them. Getting them familiarized with baby behavior and sounds will help both you and your pets be at ease when it’s time for your baby to come home to you.

5. Make A Positive Introduction

Take your time to introduce your pets to your baby, by getting them accustomed to the scent at first.

Don’t be too eager to introduce your baby to your pets, especially if they are dogs, the moment you walk in through the door. Your pets might see your infant as a suspicious foreign object that’s getting too close to comfort to their human parents, and this might trigger a hostile reaction in them. Instead, try having a new interactive toy handy that will keep your pets entertained while you settle the baby in. Once things have calmed down, let your pet smell your baby’s blankets, toys, clothes, or bonnet. Once your pets get comfortable with the baby’s scent, it will help them be more comfortable with the baby’s presence. When you think they’re at ease, you may let them sniff, and even lick your baby. Reward them with a treat and shower them with praise when they do this.

One of the most important things to remember is not get too wrapped up in your baby’s arrival that might make your pets feel ignored and hence, jealous. Try to divide your attention as much as possible between both your newly arrived infant and your pets and keep them as involved as you can. If you keep yourself calm and stay positive, your pets will watch, learn, and hopefully, follow your example!