Cubs and Bubs - How to Introduce Pets to Your Baby
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
There’s no shortage of horror stories about children and pets. From dogs to dingoes, it’s every parents’ dream to keep their little one away from all potentially dangerous animals. But we can hardly throw out the beloved family dog at the first hint of a pregnancy.
There’s no shortage of horror stories about children and pets. From dogs to dingoes, it’s every parents’ dream to keep their little one away from all potentially dangerous animals. But we can hardly throw out the beloved family dog at the first hint of a pregnancy. Here’s how to minimise the risks of introducing your baby and your pets so you can have a safe and happy united household.
Unfortunately, dogs are the biggest culprit of pet-related injuries to children and adults alike - around 13,000 people report to hospital annually with dog bite injuries. But because of a child’s size and health, a bite from a dog is often worse for children, and the head and neck are at a much greater risk. To introduce your dog to your baby, you first need to establish rules. It starts before the baby even arrives - teach your dog not to go into the nursery, not to jump up on laps or furniture without permission, and, most importantly, to listen to you. You can go one step further and carry around a fake baby to prepare your dog for the future, and take it for walks beside an empty pram.
And Stay Out!
For other pets, like cats or birds, it’s just as important to keep them out of the nursery. Cats have a tendency to find the strangest nook and crannies to sleep in, so keeping them out of the nursery might include installing some cat deterrent technology, or keeping the door closed. Birds shouldn’t be free to drop their droppings anywhere your child is likely to find them, and snakes and lizards should be kept far from the baby for the first few months.
After the birth of your new baby, your pets will be confused about the new life in the household. New sounds and smells are likely to surprise or even startle a pet. So long as your cats and dogs are kept out of the baby’s room, allowing your cats and dogs to hear the baby crying will let them get used to the sound.
The Initial Introduction
The actual introduction of your pet to your baby should be done slowly and carefully. At a time when your pet is calm and your baby is asleep, you and another adult should slowly allow the pet to see the baby, but not to approach it. Repeating this action again for the next few days will allow your pet to learn that there is another person in the household, and it will teach them to respect this person.
Like a beacon, cats are drawn to the warmest place in the house to sleep, and this place is often in the baby’s room, right next to the baby. So keeping your cat out of the nursery is going to be all that much harder after the baby is born, but it’s important to keep them apart. Allergies and injuries are problems best avoided for the first few months of your baby’s life.
Look, Don’t Touch
Pets are intelligent and don’t often attack unprovoked. As your child grows up, they're likely to become curious about your pets. It is as important to teach your cat and dog not to scratch and bite as it is to teach your child not to tug on the pet’s tail or play rough. Children are easily excited and they can make sharp noises that will startle a pet. While they’re learning motor skills, they don’t know their own strength and need to be taught how much or how little they’re allowed to touch a pet, as well as which parts of the pet’s body are safe to pet.
Teach your child to stay away from tails and teeth, and not to approach an animal while it’s sleeping or eating. Your child should never be left unsupervised with a pet, the same way you wouldn’t allow them unsupervised on the driveway.
Your child will become great friends with your pet, and they will remember them fondly for the rest of their long lives. Following these tips to introduce your pet to your baby will ensure their relationship is untainted by accidents and injuries, and it will give you peace of mind, as a parent, that your child is safe.