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I often say that I have two sons: One is a 2-year-old human, and the other is a 5-year-old Golden Lab. My husband always cringes when I call our dog our son, and he’s probably right that it’s not quite the right term.


My dog is more like my best friend than my child, and he’s definitely my child’s best friend, too. Our dog’s name is the first word out of my kid’s mouth every morning, and the two are partners in pantry pilfering crime.

Yes, he’s taught my child all about cookie theft, but a growing body of research suggests my dog is also a good influence on my little human. According to Yale University, dogs make kids happier, kinder, gentler and more independent.

Dogs make kids happy

It’s the first benefit on the list and also the most obvious. Dogs just make kids happy. Many parents (myself included, obviously), have noticed that canine companions can boost a child’s mood, and there’s a lot of science to support the link between dogs and human happiness.

One study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that “pets can serve as important sources of social support, providing many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners,” and another, out of the University of Cambridge, found that kids get more satisfaction from their relationship with household pets (especially dogs) than with human siblings. Yet another found that “having a pet dog in the home was associated with a decreased probability of childhood anxiety.”

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According to Yale, the happiness kids feel around dogs is due to the hormone oxytocin (the same hormone thought to make mothers more responsive to their baby’s cries). This hormone is known for playing a role in how we bond with each other and its release makes kids feel more social and cheerful.

Dogs make kids more caring and independent

Many parents decided to get a pet to foster a sense of responsibility in their kids, but even when children are too young to be walking or feeding Fido themselves, research indicates that having a bond with a dog is doing them good, not by making them more responsible, but by making them more empathetic.

My toddler is much too young to be “responsible” for our dog, but he does act like he is. He loves to help when it’s time to fill the food dish, and he’ll often bring me the dog’s leash if he thinks it’s about time for a walk. (Maybe that’s why studies suggest children from homes with a pet dog have higher levels of physical activity.)

According to Yale Medical, being responsible for a dog makes children feel proud, and that in turn leads them to take better care of themselves.

Dogs chill kids out

“Gentle” is a word we often use around our toddler, especially when he is interacting with animals. Even back in his preverbal days we taught him that dogs only like gentle touches, and, according to Yale, children really do become more gentle and calmer when they are around a dog.

Studies suggest therapy dogs help pediatric cancer patients maintain stable blood pressure, pulse rates and anxiety levels, and similar results have been seen in programs that see children who are reluctant or anxious readers read to dogs instead of people.

This is again, probably down to oxytocin, as “interacting with a friendly dog also reduces cortisol levels most likely through oxytocin release, which attenuates physiologic responses to stress,” researchers note.

Dogs are good for kids health

The impact a dog has on a child’s health can start even before they are born. One study out of the University of Alberta suggests having a pet in the house during pregnancy and the first few months of a baby’s life lowers their risks for developing allergies or struggling with obesity later in life, and reduces the transmission of vaginal group B Strep (which causes pneumonia in newborns) during birth.

It basically comes down to gut bacteria. Dogs are dirty, but there’s some good stuff in that dirt.

Dogs are just awesome

My dog got me up and walking when I had the post-baby blues, and these days he motivates me to get my toddler outside (which is good, because he needs almost as much exercise as the dog). I didn’t go to Yale, but I can tell you my dog has had a big impact on me, and on his human “brother.”

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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The series is coming to an end but the names George R. R. Martin gave his characters will live on in the classrooms and on the playgrounds of America.

As we mentioned last week, Game of Thrones inspired baby names graced the birth certificates of thousands of babies born in the United States in 2028. It's no surprise that a popular show influenced parents, but what is surprising is that parents of girls are more likely to choose a GoT name.

When you take Jamie and Jon out of the equation (because they were always popular way before GoT) the most popular names inspired by the show belong to two strong women: Arya and the Kahlessi.

As NBC data journalist Joe Murphy first reported, Arya is the most popular Game of Thrones inspired name in America, belonging to 2545 girls in 2018. There were not nearly as many little babies named Daenarys, but her Dothraki title, Khaleesi, comes in second place with 560 baby girls taking that one. There are also 19 girls called Caleesi and 5 little Khaleesies who got an extra 'e'.

As the New York Times reports, as a name, 'Khaleesi' is more popular than other major pop-culture characters, like Hermoine or Katniss or Tris. Those names never made it into the Social Security Administrations top 1,000 baby names, but in 2017 Khaleesi was ranked 630th and in 2018 it was the 549th most popular baby girl name.

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That's hundreds of spots higher than the name Brittany (or Britney) or even some more modern, trendy names like Ensley. It's also way, way higher Sansa, which was only given to 29 girls in 2018.

Even abroad, Khaleesi is a Queen when it comes to baby names. According to the New York Times, it's on the rise in the UK and Scotland, where several parents have created hyphenated versions, including Khaleesi-Destiny, Khaleesi-Grace, and Khaleesi-Marie.

Tonight the on-screen Khaleesi will meet her fate, but no matter what happens to the Mother of Dragons, plenty of moms have ensured this pop culture icon will live on.

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Plenty of modern motherhood paraphernalia was made to be seen—think breastfeeding pillows that seamlessly blend into living room decor or diaper bags that look like stylish purses. The breast pump though, usually isn't on that list.

It's traditionally been used in the privacy of our homes and hotel rooms in the best case scenarios, and in storage closets and restrooms in the worst circumstances. For a product that is very often used by mothers because they need to be in public spaces (like work and school), the breast pump lives a very private life.

Thankfully, some high profile moms are changing that by posting their pump pics on Instagram. These influential mamas aren't gonna hide while they pump, and may change the way the world (and product designers) see this necessary accessory.

Amy Schumer

Schumer has been super real about the realities of postpartum life since welcoming her son into the world and there is nothing more real than hashtagging your pump pic #ootd, because we know that for new moms sometimes this really is your "outfit of the day."

We're thankful to these women for showing that breast pumps belong in public and in our Instagram feeds.

[This post was originally published on May 31, 2018, but has been updated to include recent Instagram posts.]

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After quite a wait (he was born last week) Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have finally revealed their baby boy's name and it isn't what the internet was expecting.

While Kim had previously hinted at the name Robert, after her late father and her brother, the couple went with a name that makes sense given Kanye's new Sunday Services.

Baby number four for the Kardashian-Wests is called Psalm West, his mom announced via Instagram.

Psalm is the fourth child for Kim and Kanye, who are already raising 5-year-old North, 3-year-old Saint and 1-year-old Chicago.

Welcome to the family Psalm!

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Mornings can be so rough making sure everyone has what they need for the day and managing to get out the door on time. A recent survey by Indeed found that 60% of new moms say managing a morning routine is a significant challenge, and another new survey reveals just why that is.

The survey, by snack brand Nutri-Grain, suggests that all the various tasks and child herding parents take on when getting the family out the door in the morning adds up to basically an extra workday every week!

Many parents will tell you that it can take a couple of hours to get out of the house each morning person, and as the survey found, most of us need to remind the kids "at least twice in the morning to get dressed, brush their teeth, or put on their shoes."

According to Nutri-Grain, by the end of the school year, the average parent will have asked their children to hurry up almost 540 times across the weekday mornings.

We totally get it. It's hard to wait on little ones when we have a very grown-up schedule to get on with, but maybe the world needs to realize that kids just aren't made to be fast.

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As Rachel Macy Stafford, the author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, writes, having a child who wants to enjoy and marvel at the world while mama is trying to rush through it is hard.

"Whenever my child caused me to deviate from my master schedule, I thought to myself, 'We don't have time for this.' Consequently, the two words I most commonly spoke to my little lover of life were: 'Hurry up.'" she explains.

We're always telling our kids to hurry up, but maybe, maybe, we should be telling ourselves—and society—to slow down.

That's what Stafford did. She took "hurry up" out of her vocabulary and in doing so made that extra workday worth of time into quality time with her daughter, instead of crunch time. She worked on her patience, and let her daughter marvel at the world or slow down when she had to.

"To help us both, I began giving her a little more time to prepare if we had to go somewhere. And sometimes, even then, we were still late. Those were the times I assured myself that I will be late only for a few years, if that, while she is young."

It's great advice, but unless we mamas can get the wider world on board, it's hard to put into practice. When the school bus comes at 7:30 am and you've gotta be at the office at 8 am, when the emails start coming before you're out of bed or your pay gets docked if you punch in five minutes late, it is hard to slow down.

So to those who are making the schedules the rest of us have to live by, to the employers and the school boards and the wider culture, we ask: Can we slow down?

Indeed's survey suggests that the majority of moms would benefit from a more flexible start time at work and the CDC suggests that starting school later would help students.

Mornings are tough for parents, but they don't have to be as hard as they are.

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