When you have a newborn baby, trying to balance night feedings, diaper changes, and your own desperate need for sleep become a never-ending battle. Why on earth would you add another creature to the equation? Well, surprisingly, there are actually benefits to adopting a dog when a newborn is in the picture, and they just might send you to the shelter today.
In many cases, adding a dog to the family when your child is very young can pay off in health benefits. "Yes, having a dog in the house early can protect against wheezing or respiratory infections. But this exposure has to happen very early in life," said Karen DeMuth, assistant professor of pediatrics at Atlanta's Emory University, in WebMD. If you wait until your kid is older, and possibly already develops asthma or other respiratory problems, then introducing a dog not have the same effects. To max out the health benefits, adding a dog to your family ASAP may be a good idea.
As with any other major life decision, it's important to make sure the time is right to bring a dog into your home. After all, the last thing you want is to generate even more stress at this intense time in your life. But if you were set on getting a dog in the near future anyway, there are several potential benefits to raising your infant alongside a dog. (Hint: consider adopting an older dog if you don't want to raise two babies at the same time.)
1. Lower Risk Of Pet Allergies For Your Kid
As anyone who suffers from them can attest, pet allergies totally suck. But they may preventable. Infants who grow up with a dog in the home tend to have fewer allergies to the animal later in life, according to a 2011 study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy. Babies who grow up with dogs underfoot may have more robust immune systems in this respect later on.
2. Decreased Respiratory Illnesses For Your Kid
This boost to the immune system may not be limited to allergies, either. Children who grow up with dogs have fewer respiratory infections than pet-free peers, according to a 2012 study in Pediatrics. Something about the presence of a dog in the home appears to help kids develop a robust immune system.
3. Lower Stress For You
If there were ever a time you need to de-stress, it's when you're caring for a newborn. Thankfully, interacting with a pet dog is known to increase levels of oxytocin in people, meaning stress reduction is a potential benefit to dog ownership, according to a 2012 study in Frontiers in Psychology. Hey, the dog will be happy to keep you company during those endless nighttime feedings, hopefully making the whole parenting thing a little easier.
4. Lower Blood Pressure For You
The health benefits of dogs just keep adding up. In fact, simply petting your dog can lower your blood pressure, according to WebMD. It helps the dog chill out, too, so everybody wins.
5. More Activity For The Whole Family
Dogs help their owners get out and about more. Dog owners tend to get more physical activity than people without pooches, according to a 2008 study of Californians in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Even on days when you're really not in the mood to move, the dog will encourage you to take a trip around the block anyway.
6. Decreased Risk Of Asthma
Being around the family dog as a baby may help your kid out later on. Children exposed to dogs during the first year of life had a reduced risk of asthma in later childhood, according to a 2016 study in Evidence-Based Medicine. Because asthma can be such a tough condition, anything that decreases its risk is worthwhile.
7. Greater Love
With their endless patience and playfulness, dogs can teach your whole family so much about love. Why not add a gentle pup to your own pack today?
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.