As new parents, there are a million things to think about before your baby arrives: cribs, car seats, clothing, and toys. We spend 9 months planning and preparing ourselves and our home for the baby. However, several of us do not consider how our pets will react to our new bundle of joy and it may slip our minds to prepare them as well. Pets and babies can safely co-exist harmoniously in a household if given proper training and preparing them during your pregnancy.

● Dogs and Children

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  • Proper training is key to having a successful relationship between a dog and a small baby or child. It is important that your dog has the basic commands such as “Sit”, “Stay”, and “Down”. These skills will prove useful in several situations when baby is around, especially to keep a dog from jumping up onto a small child. Also the command “Drop It” will be useful to have your dog leave baby toys alone. During pregnancy, it is a good idea to introduce your dog to the sounds and smells they may encounter after baby arrives home. Playing crying sounds or other noises babies make can help familiarize them so they do not become stressed once baby is in the household.
  • It is important to desensitize your dog to the rough handling your child may dole out. They will need to get comfortable being touched in places where small hands can go, like between paw pads, on the face, tail, underside of the body, ears, and mouth. Work with your pet in conjunction with rewards, such as treats, mealtime, or play, so they will associate these touches with pleasurable things.
  • Make sure to give your pet their own private spot they can retreat to a quiet area in case things get too much for them.

● Cats and Children

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  • Just like dogs, it is imperative to get them accustomed to hearing the sounds and smells of a new baby. Play tapes of baby noises to acclimate your cat to the new sounds. You can also rub baby lotion on your hands prior to play time to associate the smell with pleasant activities.
  • Introduce nursery furniture a couple months prior to the arrival of the child and then discourage the cat from jumping onto it with double-sided tape. It is crucial to make these objects off-limits, especially the crib or the entire nursery, because a cat has the potential to smother a sleeping baby.
  • Provide a hiding area away from the children so your cat can get away from any activity if they need some time alone.

Pets and babies can be unpredictable so it is of utmost importance to never leave your child unsupervised around the animal. As a parent, it is our responsibility to teach the child to be gentle and caring towards all animals. Proper & safe play should be encouraged, but roughhousing or laying on top of pets should be minimized to reduce stress. This will lead to a happy, loving relationship between your pets and children and contribute to a safe household for all.

Written by: Lindsey G.