Pets and Babies: Guidelines on How to Live Together in Harmony

Today a great number of women have chosen to pursue a successful career before motherhood. But many couples that have postponed parenthood haven’t wasted the love they have to give; they’ve simply spent years redirecting it to non-human babies – their pets. Years later, many couples expecting their first baby are faced with the reality that Fido or Felix may not be too thrilled about the whole idea!

While some pets may have a difficult time adapting to the presence of a new family member, most dogs and cats will take the change in family dynamics in stride. In the majority of cases, children, cats and canines can co-exist in the same household. Here are some guidelines for having pets and babies together under one roof:

  • Never allow a pet of any kind to sleep in the baby’s crib, playpen, or car seat, or on their toys and blankets.
  • Never leave your pet and your baby unattended in the same room. Remember, it only takes a split second for a child (or the pet!) to be scratched or bitten.
  • Always keep the door to the baby’s room closed. (Ensure that your cat or dog hasn’t snuck in unseen.)
  • Use a baby monitor so you can hear your baby if he or she cries out for you from behind the closed door. If you think you really can’t endure the thought of closing the door, install a screen door for safety’s sake.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after playing with your pet or handling their food or kitty litter.
  • Train your dog not to jump up on people, but to sit and stay, well before baby’s arrival.
  • Give your pet an opportunity to meet the baby by letting him sniff. Discourage licking!
  • Never allow your dog to jump around in your car when you have your baby in the car seat. (Fido can stay at home for a while or leave to ride in a dog crate or be secured with a dog seat belt.)
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to help you exercise your dog during the first few weeks, while you adjust to life with a newborn.
  • Don’t forget to take time to play with, groom, and bond with your pet when baby is sleeping. Regardless of how much you love your pets now, when your first child is born they can no longer take first place in your heart and home. The important thing to remember is they still can have an important place in your life.

Article submitted by: Terri Perrin 

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