We have two dogs and a cat, and they are used to things being their own way. So when we first brought Baby H home, obviously that disrupted their lifestyle. The good thing is, my pets took well to the addition. If they felt uncomfortable with the noise or something else, they simply went off to their corners and stayed away. If they were curious, they stayed close and observed.
Tips for Introducing Pets to Baby
This will really depend on the temperament of your pets, but if you have a rescue like we do, some preparation in advance is important. We started out with pulling their tails and ears to see how they would react. Obviously, with cats, you can’t really train them not to snap or scratch, but we did try to make her run off instead of attack. The dogs had the same conditioning exercises and any snapping behavior was corrected. The preferred behavior is for the pets to just turn around and walk off if they don’t want to be messed with, and that is what we encourage them to do. Of course now, that means the toddler chases them around. But that is still ok.
We gradually allowed the pets to actually get close to the little guy, and really didn’t allow them to interact much until he could sit up, showing some sort of control. By that time, they were used to his scent, his cries, and his overall presence in the house.
When Baby H started spending more time on the floor, we started letting the pets play with him. We’d be right there on the floor with them to control any reactions and protect both the pets and the baby from each other. Since Baby H wasn’t at a hitting-things point yet, he just sat and leaned against them, so the pets were just fine with that. When he started being rough and tumble, the pets would just run away. Sure, he’s gotten a few cat scratches, but those are not serious issues and can teach a good lesson – like don’t grab kitty’s face when she is napping.
I’ve also read some tips about bringing home a blanket the baby was wrapped in during the hospital stay and letting the animals smell that. We didn’t do that, but it is a tip I hear quite a bit.
I have a lovely photo from our first days home with the baby and the kitty sleeping in my lap. I also have photos of the dogs guarding the baby’s bassinet. Animals are good at sensing the emotions of their humans, and they can adapt well to new additions when it is made clear they are here to stay.
What are some of your tips for introducing pets to a baby?