By Juliana Weiss-Roessler
When you’re pregnant, you may find yourself turning to your dog more frequently for companionship.
He’s ready and willing to join you for a nap at any time of day. Available to keep you company during your maternity leave or if you get stuck on bed rest. By your side when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. And always ready to give your belly a sniff to assure you that everything’s going alright in there.
And if you prepare him for the new arrival, his help won’t stop once your baby’s home. In fact, you may be surprised by just how many ways your dog will be beneficial to your transition into parenthood.
Here are just a few!
1. Baby monitor: Worried you’ll miss the sound of your baby’s cries after a nap or during the night? Don’t be — your dog is on high alert. In fact, you may find that your dog is just as concerned as you are during the times when your baby simply won’t settle, joining in with cries of his own.
2. Clean-up crew: You’ll laugh at the frustrations that other parents have with the mess that a baby learning to eat can create. Who needs a plastic mat to catch the splatter when you have a canine to do the work for you? And your dog will be thrilled to have discovered a new source for snacks. (Just make sure to watch for human foods that can be harmful to your pooch, even in puree form.)
3. Immune system booster: Does the idea of your baby getting covered in canine kisses make you cringe? Well, maybe it shouldn’t. Believe it or not, the germs that your dog carries into the house are actually beneficial to your little one. Studies have shown that the exposure to germs from dogs challenges children’s immune systems, leading to fewer respiratory illnesses and ear infections, and a decreased risk for asthma and allergies later in life.
4. Exercise squad: As a new parent, it’s easy to hole up in your house, especially in the early months when the little one is so demanding of your time and energy. But your pup will be there to remind you that exercise isn’t an option; it’s a necessity — for the physical and mental health of the entire family!
5. Entertainment: Need a break from playing peek-a-boo? Turns out that there are few things more fascinating to a baby than a good doggy play fight, a pup rolling around on his back, or countless other common canine behaviors. Set your baby up with a good view of his canine sibling, and watch the smiles, coos, and giggles erupt.
6. Practice: Many people scoff at the idea of caring for a dog as preparation for caring for an infant, and certainly, there’s nothing that compares to the 24/7 job of parenthood. But if you’ve ever rescued a dog with a serious behavior issue, struggled with a dog that refuses to eat, or cared for a newborn puppy with no mother, it’s likely you got some preparation for the stress, worry, and exhaustion that goes into caring for another life that’s utterly dependent on you.
And even if you didn’t encounter these types of challenges with your dog, he has been preparing you in small and large ways that you may or may not realize. You’ll be ready to:
- Be vigilant for inappropriate items that go into your baby’s mouth — and quickly fish them out if needed. After all, you’ve been doing that for years already, right?
- Give medicine to an unwilling patient. More experienced parents will be impressed by how quickly you master using that syringe.
- Set clear rules, boundaries, and limitations. You know it’s not always easy, but it’s what’s best.
- Live in the moment. You’ll be dreaming about sending your kid to college and dancing at her wedding sooner than you realize, but your dog is there to remind you to enjoy each moment as it unfolds.
7. A Source of unconditional love. If there’s anything we hope to give our children in abundance, it’s love. And your happy, balanced dog is yet another source of unwavering love and devotion for your newest family member. What better blessing can a new baby ask for?
Juliana Weiss-Roessler was the Web Content Manager for Cesar’s Way for four years and is excited to be back writing for the site. She is now a full-time freelance web writer in Austin, TX, and has added a baby boy to her pack. She’s also the proud parent of two rescues, Lady and Darby.