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Prepping Your Pet for Your New Baby

How to help your pet get used to your baby -- starting before your baby is born.

Introducing Baby continued...

Your attitude around your pet is important during this transition period.

“Make every attempt to resume normal life for the pet,” says Alanna Levine, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and pediatrician in private practice in Tappan, N.Y. “If he was allowed on the couch before, continue to allow him up there. And be careful not to discipline your pet every time he comes near the new baby.”

Some dogs find it comforting to spend time in a crate, but this must be an established preference before the baby arrives. Putting the dog in a crate whenever the baby is around can be traumatic and should be avoided, Peterson says.

Supervising Your Pet and Baby's Relationship

Animals are unpredictable, and babies make erratic movements, which may frighten pets. This is why you should always be present when your baby and pet are in the same room.

“An accident might occur if the cat lies down on the newborn's face, so caution is wise,” Reisner says. “Dogs can attack babies, so that's a well-founded fear that should be addressed with supervision or separation, as needed.”

When your baby is old enough to crawl or walk, teach her to stay away from your pet's toys, food bowls, and litter boxes. Child safety gates can keep babies away from litter boxes while still offering cats access to the facilities.

“Things that don't look appetizing to us can be quite appealing to babies and toddlers,” Levine says. “If your child accidentally ingests anything, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222. They'll need to know the type of litter ingested, so have that information on hand.”

Having Another Baby

Even if your pet adjusted well after the birth of your first child, it's helpful to take the same steps every time you're expecting an addition to the family.

“Another baby, whether the second, third, or fourth, is going to be a change in the routine,” Peterson says. “Err on the side of needing to provide some kind of transition.”

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Reviewed on May 13, 2011

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