Having a Newborn around the Family Pet

May 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Newborn Care

There is nothing more fun to watch than a child is with the family pet enjoying each other’s company. While most situations of having a newborn and pet are safe, there are some things to consider. Unfortunately, we have all heard the horror stories about babies and animals so we wanted to provide some helpful information that will make it a smoother transaction of bringing a newborn into the home where a pet already exists.

Safety is without doubt the most important consideration. Even though you love your dog, cat, bird, or other type of pet, your newborn baby will steal your heart and become your number one priority. Therefore, your goal is to have both baby and pet in the same home but also in a safe and protected environment.

In most cases, it only requires a little bit of preparation and things will go fine. Although your dog may be gentle, whether a large or small dog, you want to keep a close eye on the dog and baby to determine reactions. You know your pet and his or her behavior so the level of monitoring should easy to determine.

There are times when dogs and cats see a newborn as a threat, even prey. Even a curious pet could accidentally cause harm to the baby so making an introduction is imperative. We highly recommend that you have the dog put on a leash and held by your spouse, friend, or other family member. Then with the newborn in your arms, slowly kneel down so both baby and dog are at the same level, open the blanket, and allow the dog or cat time to investigate. If you have a dog that tends to be a little rough, or one you are concerned about, use a muzzle.

The reaction you want to see is the dog or cat gently smelling the newborn. The goal is to prevent the dog or cat from licking the baby but even if the animal were to lick the baby’s face, that is fine but you will want to wash it off once the introduction is complete since the baby still has a delicate immune system. You may even find that the baby’s develops a rash or redness if licked, which might be an allergic reaction.

In most cases, introducing a newborn to a dog is a little easier than with a cat. The reason is that cats like to slap things, even in play, which might scratch the soft skin of the baby. For introducing a cat, rather than use a leash, we recommend a chest harness, which will give you a little more control over the cat’s actions.

Remember, although you may trust your pet 100%, you should never leave your newborn alone or unsupervised around any animal. At first, you may need to use a dog crate or door gate to control the situation for dogs. Now, if you have a cat, the most important thing is to use a system that would allow the cat access to the baby’s room.

As mentioned, there is a slight chance that the pet’s dander causes an allergic reaction with the child. The odds of this happening are extremely low but if you see a rash, redness, or even trouble breathing, you know your newborn is experiencing an allergic reaction.

If you find that your baby is allergic to the family pet, you want to keep them apart. Of course finding a new home for the pet is one option but in most cases, the animal is a part of the family so this would be a very hard decision. We suggest you consider other alternatives such as an air filtration system, frequent bathing of the dog/cat, washing the animal’s bedding more often, and so on first.

Bringing a newborn into a home with pets is most often a wonderful experience. Typically, you see the animal being very protective of the baby, which starts of bonding process that will last for years. It does not matter the type of pet, dog, cat, bird, rabbit, or reptile, simply consider options for creating a safe environment for the baby and enjoy watching the bond grow. Interestingly, some pets have become so protective over babies they have actually alerted parents of trouble, even saving lives.