Stop Hating on Dogs & Cats: Animals & Toddlers Can Co-Exist

The news that pet food is dangerous to children's health should make my grandmother very happy.

The day we told her we were having a baby was the day she started her campaign to rid us of our cat -- "he will steal the baby's breath!" -- and our dog -- "he will bite the baby!"

Yet, here we are, happily co-existing: a preschooler, a toddler, a dog, and a (23-pound) cat. One big happy family.

Animals get a bad rap. What we have is not some rarity and animals are actually quite good for babies and toddlers, so long as the ground rules (and cleanliness standards) are well established.

Some reasons animals are good for children:


1. Animals teach responsibility: My daughter helps me walk our chihuahua every morning and afternoon. She helps me prepare his food and pays attention to when he needs water. At 3, she can now scoop out the food herself and feed him, something she learned when she was just a baby.

2. Animals helped ease the sibling transition: My daughter was only 18 months when we brought her baby brother home, but she had already been "sister" to our dog and cat for her whole life. Sharing was easy (ish).

3. Animals help with allergies: There is a growing body of research to suggest that children who are raised in homes with pets actually have less allergies than those raised without them (put that in your pipe, Old Wives!).

4. Animals distract: There were many times when Sam was a baby where I would put her in the Exersaucer (the circle of neglect, natch) and she would cry until Rocky strolled in. His mere presence made her laugh and smile enough for me to throw a pot of pasta on or to brush my teeth in peace.

5. Animals are fun: When my kids are at our family lake house, tossing tennis balls with Rocky, I am not freaking out about salmonella or the dog biting the kids or the cat stealing the breath from my baby's lips. I am thinking about how cool it is that my dog and kid have so much darn fun together.

Why do you think animals are good for kids?


Image via Sasha Brown-Worsham

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