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Should I let my baby have a pet?

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Our two bengals, Snowe and Polar, are sleeping on opposite sides of the room. Snowe wakes up, stretches and walks across, surprising Polar in the process. Polar bristles her fur and hisses at Snowe.  M, upset that her friends are fighting, crawls between them, arches her back and hisses back to Polar. Of course, my first response is to pick M up – I do not want her in the middle of a cat fight! But, I also question the wisdom of raising my daughter around pets.

When I found out I was pregnant, a number of my friends and family advised me that I shouldn’t have cats around a baby. Were they right?

Actually, pets provide a multitude of benefits for young children, even babies. According to Time magazine, raising babies around pets lowers their risk for asthma and allergies. Exposing babies to a multitude of microorganisms strengthens their immune systems. Pets provide more benefits than just immunity. SheKnows posted an article listing the multitude of positive effects that pets have on young children. Dogs and cats encourage exercise, since children tend to want to chase them. They help children develop attachments, because the nature of a relationship with a pet is a simple one. Pets encourage children to be nurturing, as they learn to care for another creature and in the process, they learn responsibility, which encourages self-esteem.

As it turns out, exposing babies to pets has a lot of benefits. M has fallen asleep on the living room floor, using Snowe as a pillow. I just hope that M doesn’t start meowing.

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