Pets and Babies: Managing Both, Staying Safe

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Babies and pets can make an adorable team.

Pets are much loved family members who bring excitement and joy to daily life. But when you have a new baby, managing the specific needs of your baby as well as any pets can be a challenge. How can you ensure that your baby learns to love your treasured pets while staying safe? Today we share some tips.

During Pregnancy

Having a baby around is going to be a big change for your pet. Many people treat their pets with much love and affection, like they would a child. When you have children, as much as you still love your pets, the hierarchy is going to be a bit different. So it’s best to start preparing your pet for future changes before your baby has been born.

  • Get the new furniture in early enough for your pet to get used to it. This should reduce how curious they are when your baby is around and needing to use it.
  • Set boundaries. If you plan to keep your nursery room or any other areas of the house pet free then it’s wise to make that clear to your pet before your baby arrives. Baby gates are good for keeping most dogs out of certain areas, while to keep cats out, the best thing is simply to keep the door closed. If you currently have your dog in bed with you a lot, it might also be a good idea to train them to only jump onto the bed when allowed/prompted.
  • Ensure your pet is in good health. Once the baby arrives, you’re going to be a lot busier, so it’s a good idea to take your pet for a check-up at the vet sooner rather than later. Check that any inoculations and treatments are up to date so that no parasites can be passed on to your baby.

Once Your Baby Arrives

This is going to be a particularly challenging stage for your pet. As much as you try to ensure that you give your pet the same treatment they enjoyed before your baby was around, this is going to be difficult, at least temporarily. During this period, try to take time to your show your pet care and affection, even when you’re busy.

  • Slowly introduce your baby to your pet. Some pet owners find it best to introduce the pet to the ‘scent’ of the child first, through clothes or toys. But no matter how you choose to introduce your baby to your pet, do it in a calm and quiet place, at a time when everyone is relaxed. This will give your pet the best chance of having a positive start to this important relationship. If your pet gets a bit too excited, then try again at another time.
  • Never leave your baby and the pet unattended. We all have great trust in our pets and we know that they wouldn’t harm us. But babies are quite a new experience for many pets, and with their undeveloped motor skills, babies are vulnerable. No matter how gentle your pet is, a baby poking its eye or pulling its tail may test its patience. Fortunately, most babies do not have problems with pets, but always make sure they are supervised.
  • Allow your pets space and exercise. Your baby is going to be introducing a lot of noise and clutter into your living space which can be stressful for pets. Give your pet a retreat: somewhere they feel comfortable. For a dog this may be a den in a quiet corner of the house or for your cat a cat climber somewhere they won’t be disturbed. Dogs need their regular exercise to keep happy and healthy, so don’t give up on their daily walks. If you can’t manage the dog walks yourself, then maybe ask friends, family or neighbours for some assistance, they will doubtless understand how busy you are.

Pets and Children Make a Great Team

If the points mentioned above make you feel a little bit stressed about the prospect of having a baby and pets around, please don’t worry. While it takes a little while for everyone to get used to having a baby around, pets generally adjust to it very well over time, and get on well with young children. Your baby will also benefit from having a pet around. Babies who grow up with pets are found to be more sociable, outgoing and healthy. Caring for a pet also teaches responsibility and kindness. Preparation is key, but you can be sure, that given a little time, your baby and pets will grow into the best of friends, a team you can be proud of.