Animal Talk

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Is exposure to cats and dogs good for infants? The big health news this week is "yes," according to research published in this month's Pediatrics journal. Here's the lowdown: In a study conducted in Europe with close to 400 children between 2002 and 2005, infants who lived with cats or dogs during their first year of life were sick less frequently than those who had no contact with cats and dogs. You can read the LA Times article on the study and related ones here, if you're interested. Does that mean we should all rush out and get a pet if we don't have one? It's up to you to decide what's right for your family, whether you already are sharing a home with man's best friend or your kid is more of a fish lover. Having a child is enough of a responsibility, isn't it? Coincidentally, this report came out just days after we welcomed back our very vocal kitten, Cricket, into our home. We had sent him to my sister's for 6 weeks to give us time to completely focus on our newborn, Little D, and, frankly, to not have to deal with two "kids." (Cricket's just 9 months old and wild.) Now with Cricket running around the house again like a mini panther and talking like crazy to us (apparently happy to be home), we've made it a priority to 1) keep him from touching/licking baby and 2) make our bedroom/baby room a Cricket-free zone so we can stick to #1. All our baby books and paperwork from the hospital emphasized doing so, with germs and the baby's safety, no doubt, being a concern. Still, despite our efforts, Cricket has already made his mark on Little D, though not at all how we expected or feared he would. Yesterday morning I woke up to a sound that was vaguely familiar: "Meeooowww...eooooowww...meeooww." Thing is, it wasn't Cricket. The sound was coming from D in her bassinet. I'm not kidding. My kid has developed a new cry: a drawn-out meow sound like when a cat is calling out to another cat/mate. I guess D is quite the listener and impersonator. I should probably mention here that she also says, "Oww," quite often. (She picked that up from me, I assume, from my favorite expression during our feeding sessions.) From oww to meeoooooowwww. Go, D. So, I'd have to say, I definitely agree that exposure to my kitten is good for my infant so far.  Why? When D uses her Cricket cry, it never breaks out into a full-blown, screeching sob fest. Instead it's just a slow, steady moan, which is the kind of weeping that makes mommy less crazy, thus, good for my health.

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