A new addition to the family can bring about mixed emotions for everyone. Excitement and worry are just a few of the feelings you may have as your dog and newborn meet for the first time. Your baby will be an adjustment for your pet, too. There are a few things you can do to keep your baby safe.
Prepare Your Pet for Change Before the Baby Comes
Your pet will notice some changes being made around your home and more space being occupied by baby gadgets. Before the new addition comes, use this time to spend more time with your pet as you would with an only child.
Start getting your pet used to certain scents and restricted areas of the home such as the couch or nursery. Introduce them to unfamiliar scents that could be alarming to them, like lotions, bottles, detergents or shampoos. Introducing the smells early on will help them not see the scents as threats when your baby comes home.
Distinguish Pet and Baby-Friendly Zones Around Your Home
Remember your pet may be used to having your home to themselves. Bringing a newborn into their territory and having new restrictions for them may be different. Start by creating a few pet-friendly areas of the house for your animal to roam around freely with their favorite toys. Add a pet gate to block off the space for your pet to enjoy the space and keep the baby away from it to give your pet its space to be themselves without worrying about the baby.
Do the same for your newborn by creating an area with their toys and rockers to give your baby a safe space to crawl and play out of your pet’s way. And give them both attention in their respective areas — especially your pet so they’ll always feel loved and included.
Keep Your Pet Healthy
Make sure your furry baby visits the veterinarian regularly for checkups, shots and vaccines for a healthy pet. It’s also important to keep your pet groomed to avoid sharp nails and too much shedding hair around the baby. While you’re at the vet, considering asking about other safety tips specifically for your pet and their breed to keep your baby safe.
Be Mindful When Your Pet and Baby are Together
Many parents ask the question ‘Can a newborn be around a dog?’ The answer isn’t always clear. Your baby’s safety around your pet is paramount. Some families prefer muzzles and other safeguards to reduce the risk of your pet biting or licking your baby. But, remember that pets have other ways of showing aggression including swatting or jumping. Teach your pet to keep a safe distance when the baby is around.
It only takes a few seconds for your pet to become agitated or become too rough playing with your baby. Never leave your pet unattended with your newborn for any reason. If you’re leaving the room, always take the baby with you.
And lastly, remember not to force a relationship between your pet and baby. If your baby is scared, don’t force them around your pet. And if your pet is not interested in the new addition, leave them be. Forcing the two together may cause aggression, tension and could be dangerous for your baby.
Pay Attention to How You Play with Your Pet Around Your Baby
If you play with your pet a bit rough by messing with their tail, ears or mouth it may be time to find other ways to have fun. Your child might mimic this behavior and it might not be as welcoming coming from your baby. Teach them loving ways to interact with your pet and always supervise their interactions so you can notice any red flags immediately.
Safeguard Your Home
Lastly, as your baby becomes more active they’ll want to explore different areas of the home. Be mindful of dog doors that your baby can easily crawl through or leaving out pet food that your baby can easily reach. Your pet could easily become jealous of these small, innocent actions and create tension. It may be time to reconsider some pet and baby habits to make them both comfortable.
- Consider adding safety gates to areas that are hazardous to both of your babies — such as the kitchen or bathroom.
- Keep your valuables, household products and other hazards out of reach. Small spills and tiny, sharp objects can be dangerous for both.
- Secure all furniture including side tables, lamps and shelves to avoid it being easily tipped over by your pet or baby
- Cover outlets and hide cords to avoid any electrical hazards and fires.