9 tips for getting pets and babies to live together harmoniously

Guest post by Joyce Ann Underwood
"My big brother" onsie from Etsy seller Liljopeepshop
“My big brother” onsie from Etsy seller Liljopeepshop

Even before my husband and I moved in together, we had adopted a dog. I searched Craigslist high and low in three different states for the perfect rescue opportunity — finally choosing a dog from a recently burned-down shelter, who was in foster care. I was super proud of my find, he was going to be my husband’s first dog — his very first real pet.

Unfortunately, Cody Cornelius met and bonded with me first, and suddenly he was my dog. Six months later I decided that in order to bring Cody out of his doggy melancholy we should adopt another dog, which is how we came by Molly-Gator. We thought kids were a long way off and that these dogs would have crossed the rainbow bridge by the time is was even discussed. We were wrong.

Six months after adopting Molly-Gator, a new baby herself, we were pregnant and realizing that my refusal to part with my animals was an anomaly among new parents, and relinquishing one’s pets was just a normal part of the nesting process.

Suddenly, people were barraging me with questions about how I was going to find them new homes. “They don’t need new homes — they already have a home.”

So, if you are a pet owner and expecting a child, fear not! It can work. Don’t let pressures from friends, family, or the man on the street tell you any different. There are just some things you must keep in mind…

1. They can be unpredictable

Even if you have the sweetest dog/cat/ferret/potbellied pig, remember that your pet is an animal. Always keep a watchful eye on your pets when they interact with your child. Keep your eyes open for any signs of aggression, and respond accordingly. Animals get frustrated, and time outs are okay.

2. Crates are your best friend

If your pet is not crate trained, start now. If your little whipper-snapper gets on Fido’s nerves, he may need a safe haven to escape to. Crates should be a safe place for animals, not a punishment.

3. When you bring your baby home, do not shut out your pet out of the proceedings

Let them see the baby, smell the baby. Leave the nursery door open, but remember #1: keep an eye on things. Before your baby comes home, allow your pet to acquaint itself with the nursery, baby clothes, and toys. You want your pet to be calm, and the best way to do that is to let them be involved in the whole process.

4. As your child grows and becomes mobile

Teach them that your pet is a part of the family, and should be treated as such. We do not hurt family, so stop your child immediately if they begin actions that could hurt your pet. Poking eyes and tugging on ears and tails immediately come to mind. Animal retaliation can be nasty and it would be a shame to euthanize an animal or endanger your child’s safety when you could just as easily use early intervention to teach your child how to treat pets.

5. When you’re baby proofing your home

Baby proof you dog supplies as well. A water bowl is a potential drowning hazard and unsecured food could be choked on by a toddler, or at the very least be spread all over the house by industrious little hands.

6. Keep children away from animals during feeding times

The only time Cody has ever snapped at my daughter was when I fed him before her bedtime and she got too close to his food.

7. Maintain proper hygiene for your pet

Bathe dogs regularly. Keep kitty litter boxes clean and away from little hands.

8. Stay on top of medications and vaccines

Worms are just bad news, and God forbid your pet bites your child, rabies is not something you want to be worrying about.

9. Accept that your house is going to be full of dirt and hair

You can either clean more or designate “pet free zones”.

Cody, Joyce, and Trilby.
Cody, Joyce, and Trilby.

Making a successful transition has several added benefits:

You can know you’re setting a good example for your kid about really important issues like compassion, trust, patience, and what it means to be a family. As your child grows, they will have a great friend and your pet will eventually have attention and snuggles than they know what to do with. Parenthood does not have to be the end of pet ownership.

If you still find you need to re-home your pet:

If you find your child is allergic to your pet, or that your pet is not coping with the addition of a new family member, there are lots of great no-kill options out there for re-homing your pet. If re-homing your pet is your only option, please make sure to find a good, loving forever home. No animal should have to die in these situations when there are agencies out there to prevent it.

And remember, you can control the pet populations by having your pet spayed or neutered. For more information about cost-effective sterilization, visit: nutscut.com.

Yes, sometimes pets and children don’t work out, but I believe most pets can become kid friendly if the pet owner is committed to making it work.

How do YOU make your pets and baby living situation work?

Comments on 9 tips for getting pets and babies to live together harmoniously

  1. Maybe it’s a cultural thing (US/UK divide?) but this is news to me – do people get rid of their pets just because they’ve got a baby on the way? I don’t think I know anyone who did and it seems to be the one thing no one has suggested to my sister now she’s pregnant. (With good reason, I would not want to be the person telling her she has to get rid of her cats.)

    • I thought the same thing! I suppose different circles might have different views on this, but in my family, both my siblings who’ve recently had babies were SO excited to bring them home to their canine siblings. (And the canine siblings have been super loving in return.)

    • It seems to be a trend here in the US. You wouldn’t believe the amount of ads you find on places like Craigslist that say something to the effect of “Baby on the way/new baby – need to re-home pets.” As a matter of fact, we adopted Molly-Gator from a family who had just had a baby and didn’t want her anymore. It was their loss as she was an angel with Trilby.

      • What amazes me about those craigslist ads (I stopped looking at the pet section a long time ago because it makes me angry) is how often the puppy itself is only a few months old. You’re rehoming a three month old dog because you had a baby? You didn’t know three months ago that you were going to have a baby?

          • The panic is a real thing! This happened to my brother and sister-in-law when they were prego with their first child. They briefly discussed the possibility of getting rid of the cat before the baby was born (he would not have been good with kids!) and one day, my brother took it to the shelter without telling my prego sister-in-law. Cue crazy prego lady sobbing when she got home! But, now they have 5 kids and an outside cat that is great with the family!

        • My close friends had a moment of panic! They live in an 800 sq. ft home got an 8 week old puppy, and then two weeks later, SURPRISE they accidentally got pregnant. What’s worse, in the 9 months before baby arrived, their little puppy grew three times larger than they were expecting! (Turns out, their mid-sized breed actually had some GREAT DANE mixed in – yikes!) On the plus size, great dane temperament is notoriously good with children. They just make it work, and now their daughter rides their 85 lb. dog like a horse.

        • A surprising amount of people think it is a “cute” idea to get a young animal at the time the have their baby so they can “grow up together” and “be best friends”. I’m guessing at least some people have done this only to realize how much work it is to have a baby and young animal and since they’re obviously not going to give away their baby, it’s bye-bye new puppy.

      • So strange — I’m American, but I don’t frequent the pets section of Craigslist so I guess I didn’t know. I can’t imagine re-homing our dog under almost any circumstances!

    • I wondered the same, I’m in the UK. We have 2 dogs, a turtle and a baby on the way. I wouldn’t even consider getting rid of any of our pets, they are part of our family. I’d be shocked if anyone suggested rehoming them just because a baby is on the way. Sure, we need additional rules & boundaries for both child and pets but we’ve already started the dogs’ training and there’s no reason at present that they can’t all live happily together with proper supervision & care.

      • Just putting this out there for anyone who doesn’t know; turtles need to be kept away from small children. You don’t have to get rid of the turtle you just shouldn’t let the little ones handle it. Turtles carry salmonella and little ones just aren’t good enough about hygiene to keep from infecting themselves. My sister is a social worker and her current job is with pediatric nephrology patients. She’s had multiple patients who wound up needing kidney transplants because of pet turtles so it’s just not something to mess around with.

    • I think it varies a lot in the US as well. Among my large family and circle of friends, no one would dare make that suggestion–people are excited to introduce their pets and babies. But my co-worker immediately gave away her dog, with seemingly little emotion, when she became pregnant. It was the weirdest thing. She didn’t didn’t care at all about the pet she loved dearly just months earlier.

    • It’s one of the more common reasons given when dogs are surrendered to shelters. “Just didn’t have time with the baby”, “he snapped at the baby”, “he always grabbed the baby’s toys”.

      That being said, anyone in my circle would probably be crucified if they even thought about it unless the dog has serious behavioral issues and they had gone through reputable trainers to try and fix them.

    • With cats, the toxoplasmosis risk is a huge factor. Sure, it can be really dangerous for pregnant women, but doctors do a lot of scaremongering too. Taking extra care about hygiene and letting someone else handle the litter boxes is a sensible precaution, but most doctors will advise you to get rid of the cats immediately.

      • Honestly, if my doctor told me I had to get rid of my cats when I got pregnant/gave birth, I would find a new doctor. That’s a ridiculous level of fear mongering and unnecessary precaution. Particularly true because we have indoor-only cats, but I would feel the same way regardless. There are far more reasonable precautions to take than getting rid of your pets.

      • My husband was in the room when my nurse mentioned the toxoplasmosis issue since she knew I had 2 cats. My husband immediately volunteered to take over litter box duty. Four years later and it is still his choir. Win!

        • Haha, good for you Keren! 🙂 I have no plans of getting pregnant any time soon, but I totally agree with Ashlah above, I’d rather get rid of a doctor than of my cats. 😉

      • You’re more likely to get toxoplasmosis from contaminated food and unwashed vegetables than from your cat.

        *puts on veterinary technician hat*
        Toxoplasmosis in cats is transmitted to people via airborne fecal matter. It doesn’t become airborne until the feces are completely dry which takes approximately a day. If you scoop your box daily, you should be fine.
        If you’ve contracted toxo before you got pregnant, you are also fine.
        Cats get toxo by consuming infected meat which can happen if they are outside cats or fed raw meat. Get your cat tested if either of those is true.
        *removes technician hat*

        Honestly, I’ve handled toxo positive cats for years, including one who lived at my hospital for 3 months and I tested negative when I got my pregnancy bloodwork done. I don’t handle toxo positive cats since becoming pregnant but the danger of infection isn’t as high as doctors will lead you to believe.
        Good hygiene and getting someone to scoop the litter boxes daily is a still good idea but don’t give up your cats because of fearmongering. There are alternatives.

        • I’d like to add that for women who have had cats (especially outdoor cats) for a long period of time, the first thing to do is to test themselves for toxoplasmosis antigens – there is a good chance that you have already contracted it and don’t need to worry anymore when getting pregnant. Somehow I don’t see this mentioned in most of pregnancy advice sites (though having an excuse to not clean litterbox is nice!)

      • I think the trend has definitely picked up in recent years. My grandparents did give away their dog when my mother was born fifty something years ago. It was a German Shepard who was fiercely protective of my uncle. One night my grandfather went in to check on my uncle, who was about six, and the dog attacked him. My grandfather was a dog lover so chalked it up to him surprising the dog in the middle of the night, but they were really scared that he would do something to my mother so they gave him to their friends.

    • We are UK/Canadian dual citizens and currently live in Canada. We adopted our cats because their former owners’ *daughter* (who did not live with them) became pregnant, and they were going to send them to the humane society. I still get cross just thinking about it, years later.

  2. I would add this: understand that your pets may get less attention than they’re used to right after the baby comes and that’s okay! I can’t speak for other animals, but dogs are pretty adaptable, so while you might feel bad about not getting to take Sparky on as many walks or cuddle as often while you’re adjusting to parenthood, as long as he gets his basic needs met Sparky will likely be okay.

    If you decide to rehome, please check the adoption vs euthanasia rates before surrendering your pet to the city shelter. My city’s shelter euthanizes about 10,000 animals a year and many people don’t even realize it. They surrender their pet truly thinking they’re giving them the opportunity to find a better home, but by law the animal can and sometimes does go straight to the kill room. I’m sure no animal would choose that over playing second fiddle to a newborn for a few months.

    • The day before I went in to have my daughter my husband and I were at the Vet’s office with the dogs for some reason. I will never forget the Vet telling me “After the baby comes they’re going to just be dogs for a little while and that’s okay.” It was true, they were just dogs for a while after the baby came, and the Vet was right – it was okay.

  3. I grew up knowing people re-homed their pets after having kids but never really understood why. My mom ran a little animal shelter and we had a dozen or so pets in our house as fosters at any given time. When I was pregnant with my first we got a few questions asking about our dog and 2 cats but the questions seemed to only come from people who didn’t themselves have any pets or aren’t “animal people.”

    When I was pregnant I ended up going into preterm labor and spent some time on strict hospital bedrest. When I got home after the c-section my dog was completely weirded out. He would lay right up next to me at all times (something he never did previously) and would whine when I would leave every morning to go to the NICU. Due to the chaos of having preemie twins in the NICU for 3 months we didn’t notice that he was becoming depressed until it was to late. Between the rocky start and then bringing home 2 colicky babies our poor dog spent almost a year hiding under beds and just being sad. Once we got our selves back to normal and realized what was going on we we got him a new kitten friend and started dedicating real time to playing with him and including him on family outings. If things had been more calm after the birth of our twins we would have done a better job of transitioning our poor pup and probably saved him from that horrible year. Luckily now he back to his happy hyper self and has completely fallen in love with our now 3 kids.

  4. Its so sad when people think its an either/or situation :/ my cat is my furbaby and I wouldn’t give her up for anything. But there are some families where it is too expensive to have a pet and a child, both require food, vaccines, doctor/vet visits, social integration etc and some people may not have the time or money. Though people really need to think about their decisions and plan accordingly.

    • I think you bring up a great point. I totally understand that sometimes financial situations are a huge hindrance when there are kids and pets to care for. I just hope that if finances are not an issue that people don’t feel the knee jerk reaction to re-home their pets in preparation for baby.

    • This was our issue, and it broke my heart… Still makes me cry to think about. Our dog was like my baby before the baby came, and my hubby and I budgeted and made the decision that we were ready to have a baby. Fast forward to my daughter being about 6 months old. Her and our dog were best buddies, he was so great with her. But he had several chronic health issues crop up in a short amount of time and we simply couldn’t afford the medication and special food he needed. I had to make the hardest decision of my life: give up being a stay at home mom and sacrifice time with my daughter, or find my fur-baby a new home. FORTUNATELY we found him a great home with a friend of a friend, (a single guy who makes good money) so we still get to visit him and know he’s well cared for. I still wish he could’ve stayed with us, but we are so fortunate we were able to find a good home for him.

  5. As a certified dog trainer I would also like to add, you have time to teach or refresh some dog training skills. A “leave it” cue, or maybe a “go to your bed and stay” can be enormously helpful. But also it is smart to spend the pregnancy prepping and counter conditioning the dog for new sounds (screaming etc) he will hear that can be stressful and confusing. YouTube can be great for that. http://Www.familypaws.com is the place with all the information on this subject though.

    • Yes! My favorite cues that everyone should go over with their dogs before having a kid (not a certified dog trainer, just a crazy dog lady) is “leave it”, “drop it”, “go to your mat/bed/etc. and don’t get up until I tell you” (there’s a great, but admittedly expensive tool call the ‘treat and train’ that is great for this if you’re having any problems with it!), and my personal favorite “go away”. I train go away to get a dog to give me some space (say ‘go away’, throw a treat somewhere away, and then keep throwing treats in that area until you give a release cue)

      Also, revisiting loose leash walking is a great, great idea if your dog doesn’t have it down 100% – particularly if you start introducing a stroller.

  6. This for sure. I also think it’s so sad that so many new parents here in the US seem to think babies and pets can’t coexist. The hubs and I had our dog for five years when our son was born, and there was no way she was going to live elsewhere. She’s part of our family. When you have a second child, you don’t send the first one to live elsewhere, right? Our dog is somewhat difficult, but we’ve made it work. Our son is one now, and they’re BFFs (most of the time)! I would be lying if I said that there haven’t been some rough patches-everything about having a baby has a HUGE learning curve! But all of this is really great advice. I would also add- stock up on the little training treats, especially when the baby is mobile and into everything. Our dog has never been good with “leave it,” but she’s had to become very good about it in the past few months since my son has learned to crawl and cruise and get into EVERYTHING. There are so many upsides to a babies growing up with dogs, though, I think. Whenever I pick my son up from the kid’s program at church, they always tell me with admiration and amazement how well he plays with other kids and how gentle he is with them. I guess that’s kind of rare for 13 months, but he’s constantly learning about kind interactions and gentle touching at home!

  7. “We looove cats sooo much and really want to adopt a cute little kitty because growing up with pets is sooo good for the kids’ development and it teaches them responsibility etc. – Yeah, we have lots of previous experience with pets. We always used to have a cat but we had to get rid of that one back when we got pregnant because, you know *wink wink*, the baby.”

    I work for an animal shelter interviewing/vetting people who wish to adopt, and that’s a conversation that comes up far too often for my liking. It makes me go all ragey and ranty because it’s so hypocritical and doesn’t make any sense at all.

  8. We got a dog while prepping to make a baby. We were ‘trying’ for a baby, but assumed it would take a while. We got a dog, then found out we were prego about 3 weeks later. It was still within the ‘return’ period of the shelter, but we didn’t question keeping him for more than about 5 minutes! It was too late, he was already part of our ‘family’ by that time! We purposely got a dog that had a good behavior rating and was supposed to be good with kids. We also got an older dog so we didn’t have to potentially do the puppy and baby stages at the same time. It has been great to have a dog during the pregnancy and we have started to train the bad habits out of him (like getting him not to jump up on people holding babies). We have also introduced some of our friends’ kids to him to see how he would react. I read another article about introducing pet to baby that said to bring home a blanket or clothes the baby used in the hospital to have the pet sniff and get used to the smell of baby. We are planning on doing that. I already plan to turn on all of the toys and devises that baby will use so that dog can get used to them (he is kind of scared of new noises and random sounds like vacuums and the baby swing). Hopefully that will help acclimate him to what it will be like once baby arrives.

    We also have already started telling people that once the baby comes, they will need to come over to pet the dog and take him for walks! LOL

    On your note about leaving the baby’s room door open, do not do that without extra close supervision if you have a cat! Cats have been known to jump into the baby’s crib or basinet and either hurt baby, sleep too close to baby (possible suffocation risk), or pee on baby (I have heard of several cats that have peed on the baby while the baby is sleeping in the crib!) I would recommend keeping the room the baby is sleeping in locked with the cat out of the room, especially when the baby is young!

    • When my niece was born we introduced her to my mum’s dog by bringing in some of her clothes and muslin cloths the day before for the dog to sniff etc. It worked really well! We also took extra care to praise her every time she walked away from the baby and sat down nicely. Within a few days our dog really seemed to understand that my niece was part of the pack, but that she belonged to my brother and sister-in-law so she had to ‘ask’ their permission before approaching the baby. She did try to gently lick my neice’s feet a few times (while she was wearing socks!) but this was just inquisitive and not at all aggressive. Sadly our dog died shortly afterwards, but we have one gorgeous photo of my niece asleep in her pram/stroller in the garden, being ‘guarded’ by our dog!

      • Dogs are smart about stuff like that. For months after my third was born every time someone other than I was holding him our dog would watch them carefully while continually glancing back at me with a “are you sure this is ok?” look in his eyes.

        • I love how protective dogs can be of kids. One of my all-time favourite photos of one of my favourite musicians is him in a swimming pool holding his baby daughter and the dog watching from the side like she’s thinking “You’ve put the baby in the water. Why is the baby in the water? What if something happens to the baby?”

          She seriously looks like if he let go for a second she’d leap in to fish the baby out.

  9. So the best articles I’ve read about dogs and babies are mainly to do with ‘how to get your toddler to not be awful around your dog’. I really, really suggest that everyone who has children read this article. Basically, it’s about not letting your baby or toddler feel like they must go and bother the dog at all times. If your kid continually goes up to your dog, it’s more and more of a bite/injury risk so I highly suggest not allowing your kid to become ‘magnetized’ as they call it in the article: http://www.dogsandbabieslearning.com/2011/01/24/mamas-dont-let-your-babies-get-magnetized-to-dogs/

    • I was also going to post this article! I’m having a baby in 6 months, have 3 dogs, and have already started working on go to bed and leave it. I’ve shared this article far and wide to explain to my husband and any visiting family members how we expect to manage the dog-and-baby stuff so everyone is on the same page. Madeline is also coming out with a book soon so anyone expecting in the next few years should snag it!

  10. Also, if you must get rid of your pet, give it to a reputable shelter or rescue! Don’t just put your beloved pet on craigslist or the like for the highest bidder. Shelters have vetting processes to attempt to make sure the pet goes to a good home and is well taken care of. Also, some shelters (like our local Humane Society) have re-homing programs where the pet can be listed online to potential adoptive families, but stay with you in your home until someone wants to adopt them. That way, the pet does not need to be surrendered to the shelter, but can still get adopted out to a good home in a quicker time frame.

  11. Before baby and while I was pregnant I was absolutely sure that I would make sure that baby and animals, in our case 3 ferrets, would work together. Unfortunately reality proved very different. I developed postnatal psychosis and, although I have (mostly) recovered I am highly protective of my 11 month old and will not allow the ferrets anywhere near him. There is no logic to this, just an overwhelming sense of dread about something happening to him. I haven’t seen our ferrets properly now for 9 months. My husband lets them out once little one and I are bathing and heading to bed. The ferrets are not going anywhere but when we lose them they will not be replaced. If you’d told me that this would be the case a year ago I would have laughed in your face. I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes situations arise that you can not possibly have foreseen. I know mine is an extreme case, but babies do change people hugely even if mental health isn’t an issue.

    • First off I want to say that I’m glad you’re doing better and that it’s very brave of you to be willing to take about these issues openly. I don’t think the article was really directed at people like you though. My reading is that the writer was talking about people giving up pets as part of preparing to have a baby, not after the baby is born in the (rare) case of an actual problem that can’t be solved in any other way.

      • Oh, I completely agree with you that it wasn’t aimed at people in a situation like mine, and as I said we have not and will not get rid of our animals. However, being in the situation that I now find myself means that I do understand why people make the decision to give up an animal when a baby arrives. I used to be very judgemental of people’s reasoning for doing it, and in many situations it is a decision that I still would not support . I just wanted to put it out there that there are sometimes genuine reasons why people would need to give up a pet and we should try not to judge them for it as we may not know the whole story.

  12. Ha! We went and got our new puppy knowing that I was 16 weeks pregnant. Since we already had one older large dog, everyone thought we were nuts for adding a second large breed puppy to the mix when I was expecting. We felt, why not, go big or go home!
    We wanted the baby and puppy to grow up together, and boy do they have a mutual love affair going on!
    Older dog just wants Little to stay away and he mostly avoids him, which we expected.

  13. This is awesome! Good for your for sticking to your guns and not giving away your pets. Could you imagine the outrage if the situation were reversed? No one on earth would say “I’m getting a dog so I need to put my baby up for adoption” but no one seems to think twice about giving up their pets. In my household the pets have always been treated as part of the family and you wouldn’t get rid of one relative to make room for another! Of course, that excludes a situation of allergies which sucks but is understandable.
    A family member of mine gave away a dog that he’d had for over 10 years because it snapped at his daughter when she was about two. No one thought about the fact that maybe if she’d been taught that poking, pinching, pushing and pulling at the dog was wrong it wouldn’t have happened. They basically did the exact opposite of what this article suggests. It made me so mad. I just couldn’t understand how one could so easily give up a pet!

    • We talked about that a lot with our kids when we first got our dog since our son was just five and our daughter was 2.5. They already knew about gentle touches from our cat but they weren’t as familiar with dog body language (like that yawning is a sign of stress) and since the main reason we got the dog was for them to play with him I knew they were going to be interacting with him a lot more than the cat. One of the things we tried to make clear to them was that if they ignored those signals and got bitten that our dog would have to go live somewhere else and that would be very sad.

      • We got our first dog when I was three. I distinctly remember being taught to be gentle with her, to say “no” and give her a toy if she nipped, and to never try to pet her her while she was eating. They took a different approach about getting bit though. They told me that if I wasn’t gentle with her and I got bit it was my own fault!

        • So true, so many people don’t take personal responsibility and blame a dog for acting naturally! If you put your hand in a flame and get burnt it’s your fault and not the flame’s, and likewise if you provoke a dog and get bitten. Of course, there are simple things you can do in either situation to avoid being injured, but some people don’t seem to realise this.

  14. Yes, this is great! Especially teaching the children how to behave around and respect dogs. We had lots of dogs growing up and were always taught never to mess with its food or other “possessions” (like toys, but also things like getting between a mama and her puppies), never to mess with a dog in a way it might not like (pulling its tail, getting in its face, trying to ride it like a horse), and how to read the dog’s body language. We were supervised closely until we were old enough to manage these things successfully on our own (which was probably close to 8 years old) and know how to manage the large size of our dogs. The dogs saw me and my sister as part of the pack, and fiercely defended us as infants from, say, people looking into our strollers to coo at us.

    Now, as an adult, I have an adopted dog whose previous family was the complete opposite. They let their kids BITE THE DOG, pull his tail, do whatever they wanted, basically. One day our (very, very tolerant) dog gave a warning snip (not quite a bite, but definitely a “back off”). The family freaked and took him to the shelter. The family’s actual comment was, “Would be great around better behaved kids.” At least they are honest!

  15. Some things I’ve heard from my friends who have recently had human babies:

    One dog was fine with the baby until “tummy time” was a thing. He is a small dog, so I think he was freaked out by the baby being on his level. Putting the dog bed and a couple of the dog toys in the middle of the floor (just like the baby!) gave him his own spot, belongings, and made him feel like part of the party. Dogs can be unsure, awkward, and anxious just like people, so giving them a place and an activity can help!
    Another friend didn’t want her dog to have free access to the nursery, but she put a dog bed next to the chair where she would feed the baby so the dog could be close to them. This friend also kept her dog “involved” by talking to her about the noises the baby was making like “Uh, oh, baby’s awake! Let’s go see the baby..” etc.

    I am trying to anticipate what our dog will need if/when we have a human baby. We know she can food guard, so we need to devise a way to keep the baby away from her food bowls (which in general is good as someone mentioned above the drowning risk, which I never considered! Our dog never leaves any leftover kibble, but that could be a choking risk as well.) Our dog might only get kongs and food toys outside or in the garage maybe to avoid her barking at the baby. I will take my friend’s advice about placement of dog beds to keep the dogs feel included. We already use a baby gate to keep the dog away from the cat litter, so that’s already in place. But I know I will have to do a lot more research about having multiple pets and young kids!

  16. My mother had her cat for five years before I was born, so I grew up with a cat in the house. I had my own cats since I was seven. Fiance and I currently have two cats – both of them grew up around children, and one really enjoys playing with them. They’re going to be around when we have our kid/s.

    I’ve heard of people getting rid of their pets when baby is on the way, which always mystified me. How are kids supposed to know how to behave around pets if they’re not immersed in having one from the cradle? After having worked at a cat adoption center, I’m horrified at how some small children who never grew up with pets treated the cats. I’m keeping mine, just as everyone else in my family had while my cousins and I were growing up.

  17. Oh gosh, We’d be giving up an arm full. We have 5 cats and a medium sized dog, most of which are all rescue animals. I’m sorry, but if you plan on having kids ever, don’t get a damn animal if you’re just going to re-home it. They’re your kids too.

  18. My mother suggested having to rehome my cat if we were to move a few years ago. I asked her if she’d rehome a kid as well — funnily enough, the topic has not come up during pregnancy…
    I’ve handed litter box duty over, but otherwise the only pre-baby changes are “Off the boob/your sister!!” when I’m in pain, half-training him to stand on his back legs so I can still lift him up, and lots of cuddles and whispering “You’re always gonna be mama’s boy…” He is my first-born in all but species, and while I can never forget that he is an animal I’m a lot less nervous about him taking the changes badly than I would be with an older child.

    I have been a very mean cat-mom since we got him, biting him back when he bit me and lots of rough-housing and holding him firmly in place until I decided he could go, but there is a good reason:
    We had friends stay with us for a week before our wedding last May, and they have two kids who aren’t used to pets. The older kid absolutely adored the cat, but would be a little rough (completely unintentionally) when carrying him around. I don’t think the cat acted out once. If he was done he’d walk away, and being an indoor-outdoor cat he had plenty of roaming time to himself. The only time there was any issue was when other friends were over with their kids and we’d just been to the vet — I shut him in the kitchen with a blanket hiding his bed under the table, and told all the kids that he was sleeping and NOBODY was allowed in. I did have to repeat myself about three times, but they were still far more attentive than the grown-ups who came over later..

    He also met my 9-month-old nephew at Christmas. Nephew was in his walker and Cat was wearing his harness on my lap, and both were a little apprehensive but happy to watch from a distance. Thankfully Nephew is used to small dogs and didn’t object to me moving his hand gently over the cat’s back when we did finally let them sit together, or having his toes licked with sandpaper tongue. 🙂
    I did find it hilarious that their names are quite similar-sounding, and when one was being told to stop something that they’d both look up…

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