Few months back, I read an article in a pediatric journal saying that researchers say that babies who grow up in homes with a pet are less likely to get sick than children who live pet-free. “We think the exposure to pets somehow matures the immune system; so when the child meets the microbes, he might be better prepared for them,” says Dr. Eija Bergroth, a pediatrician at Kuopio University Hospital in Finland. This made me ponder on how can I give this environment to Siya; we can barely keep up with taking care of her and having a pet would be insane in NYC apartment with two working parents.
Furthermore, Siya’s birthday was just around the corner and we wanted to do something unique on the “D-day” but the brutal winter limited my outdoor options. That’s when we stumbled upon “The ArtFarm NYC,” a home to NYC’s only indoor petting zoo.
Little did W3 knew, that something so cool and exciting existed in the city. I was very excited about it and luckily Groupon (need to keep expenses in check!!) had a great deal for 10 classes.
It’s been over 10 weeks that Siya is going to this class and I couldn’t be happier about it because it not only fulfilled my main reason- exposure to animals, but also added two additional benefits:
- Exposure to animals – Opportunity to weekly pet and interact with animals from bearded dragon to turtle to chinchillas and chicken. Great to build her immune system, remove fear of animals and appreciate other living creatures in the nature.
- Care and compassion – This is a very important trait for any child and I see a significant difference in Siya on how she now engages with pet in our neighborhood and building. She will run behind them, gently pet them and even play with them with her favorite “ball.” She has shown added love to her stuffed animals by always hugging and kissing them (she didn’t do that earlier!!).
- Sensory learning – I am a big believer of touch and feel learning, as toddlers learn the best through these experiences (many studies on this and personal experience!!). There are so many sensory opportunities at The ArtFarmNYC: the textures of the animal, the dryness of the hay and the sound each of animals. Earlier, I used to employ animal flash cards and read books to show her different animals, and make sounds. However, I always felt something was missing. Now, there is a more authentic connection when Siya reads these books and I hear her saying “Wooof” when she points or sees a dog or “Quaaa” when she sees a duck.
I am a happier NYC mommy as I have so many options; Indoor Petting zoo, Central and Bronx zoo to incorporate the world of animals in my child’s routine. This not only helps her to interact better than before also but adds value in aforementioned way.
If you don’t live in NYC, then check out your local petsmart or pet store for indoor petting options.
Do you have other fun ideas to engage your toddlers with pets? Please share your comments.