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Pets and The New Baby

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The arrival of a new baby is a fun stressful time for the new parents and the family pets as well. This is a guide about pets and the new baby.
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Catherine Forman2 found this helpful
April 11, 2006

A new baby is an adjustment for everyone, parents, siblings, and pets! Here are some tips to help make the transition easier for everyone:
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Before the Baby Arrives:

  1. Bring your pet to the veterinarian before the baby is born for a check-up and routine vaccinations.
  2. If you have never been through obedience classes, you may want to take a course before the baby is born!
  3. Teach your pet not to nibble on people, redirect his attention to appropriate toys and treats.
  4. Teach your pet to sit/stay until invited to join you on a couch or chair.
  5. Talk to your veterinarian and/or your pediatrician if you have any major concerns about your pet and your baby interacting.
  6. Invite friends with infants to visit, supervise your pets carefully around the babies!
  7. Get your pets used to typical baby noises, the creak of the rocking chair, the mechanical swing, you can even play recorded baby cries!
  8. Use baby powder or baby oil on your skin so your pets can get used to the new smells.
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  9. Talk to your pets about the baby -- use the baby's name if you have picked it out in advance.

After the Baby Arrives:

  1. If the baby's room will be off-limits to the pets, install a gate or a screen door, your pet will be out of the room but still able to see and hear what is going on. He will feel less isolated this way.
  2. Bring something that smells like the baby home to your pet before the baby comes home from the hospital. Your pet can become familiar with the baby's smell.
  3. When you first arrive home, let someone else take the baby into another room while you greet your pet. Remember, he's missed you terribly while you've been at the hospital! Use your pet's training to keep him calm.
  4. When you are ready to introduce the pet and the baby. Make sure your pet is calm at this point, reward your pet with treats for calm, appropriate behavior. You want your pet to know that being good to the baby is a positive experience!
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  5. Don't force your pet to come near the baby if he doesn't want to.
  6. Try to maintain regular routines, if you started each day with a walk before the baby came along, try to stick with it. Keep mealtimes at the same times so your pet's routine isn't too disrupted.
  7. Make sure to spend some quality time alone with your pet every day so he doesn't feel left out.

Some dogs have a natural instinct for mothering; a friend of mine has a German Shepherd who just adores the baby and is always at his side. Please don't immediately dump your dog or cat out of the family if they don't adjust to the new family member right away. Give it time, give everyone attention and affection, and everyone will learn to get along.

By Catherine Forman

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Questions

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April 6, 2008

I'm looking for some advice. I just found out that I'm pregnant, and we have a cat (Destiny). My hubby thinks we need to get rid of the cat, but I can't. She's another baby, if you know what I mean. I love my cat, but do cats and newborns get along? Any helpful hints on what we should do to keep the place clean, etc? Thanks much!

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Stacey S. from Eagle Mountain, UT

Answers

April 6, 20080 found this helpful

Mine got alone great--my sister in laws cat didn't. It all depends on the cats attitude and yours. You can try it-thats what I did. I told myself I would try it and if it worked great, if it didn't, I would make her an outside cat.

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April 6, 20080 found this helpful

A pregnant woman's coming into contact with cat feces can cause birth defects, so I strongly urge that you to avoid cleaning the litter box while you're pregnant. You should also wear rubber gloves if you garden in any area that a cat could be using to void. Outdoor cats are much more likely than indoor cats to be a carrier of this problem. You should research toxoplasmosis to learn more about it. My obstetrician didn't want me working with the litter box at all, even though both my cats were 100% indoor cats.

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As far as keeping our cats once our first baby was born, we chose to give our two cats away (we had a friend who absolutely loved our cats); we chose this because one of the cats in particular was extremely cuddly, and overnight he always slept on and around my pillow and even sometimes across my face. My husband would hear me gasping and remove the cat. I apparently didn't wake up fully enough to remove the cat myself. We were fearful he might do the same to a baby. We didn't think our other cat would be a problem, but we chose to give them both to our friend because they would be companions for each other at their new home. Our friend was very happy to welcome them into his home. I'm not recommending that you get rid of your cats, nor am I recommending that you keep them. I'm just sharing our story in the hope that it will help you make a choice. I think most cats would do well with babies, and only you know your own cat's habits and what risks they may impose to your newest family member. I wish you lots of love and luck. Bringing a new person into this world is a wonderful, blessed event!

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April 6, 20080 found this helpful

Keep the cat! JUST DON'T CHANGE THE LITTER BOX WHILE YOU'RE PREGNANT (because of possible toxoplasmosis) If your Man really loves you, He'll do that one chore for you & the baby. My daughter was also afraid her cats would do weird things when she brought the baby home. But, not so. One cat totally ignored the child (& still does to this day) & one kind of watched over the child. What I mean by that is, Whenever Abby cried, the cat came running (feeling sorry for her). And the weird thing about it is: The cat KNOWS when her cry is REAL or FAKE! Abby is now 5 & always trying to "pull one over" on her mom, last week she was crying & her mom said to her "Abby, I KNOW that's not a REAL cry!"... Abby said "YES it IS!". Then her mom said " You know how I know"" Abby: "How?", Mom: "Boo isn't sitting by you, he didn't come when you cried" So Abby immediately calmed down & said with a contrite voice "You're right mom, I WAS faking it". That cat is marvelous. He will let her do ANYTHING to him. She can lay on him, tease Him, pull his tail, anything & Boo will just sit there placidly.

---> It's an old wives tale, about cats smothering babies because they smell like milk. Why would anyone give their cats away just because a baby is coming into the house!?... It's crazy, unless you are already looking for an excuse to get rid of them in the first place! 99.9 times out of 100 cats just IGNORE babies, but once in a while, you get a cat like Boo that will come & sit by you & let you know the baby is crying (kind of like a baby monitor), but all in all don't worry about it! Now IF for some strange reason one of your cats DOES do something bad when the baby comes home, THEN you can make the decision to find a new home for it! Does your husband KNOW how much you love these cats? I find it strange he wants to get rid of them? He must have heard the old tales about "baby's milk drawing the cats to smother them". As I said earlier, this is totally FALSE. Ask any Pediatrician or your OB & they'll say "No need to give your cats away, just don't change the cat box & if you DO for some reason have to, wear a mask, gloves & do it outside, then wash your hands good afterwards".

---> I failed to mention how much joy my daughters cats brought her when she was bedridden for 2 months w/ morning sickness, throwing up day after day (She didn't gain any weight while she was PG because of this) . The cats at least gave her some kind of comfort & joy through this time.

* If you DO chose to get rid of your cats because of bad behavior AFTER the baby is born, at least find them good homes on Craig's List. That's where my daughter finds homes for feral kittens that are born in her apartments parking lot. (My wonderful cat, "Smokey" came from the same parking lot stray mother-cat)

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 6, 20080 found this helpful

I had 1 cat when I had my son. She would run from the crib to me when he would cry. When he was teething, he would bite her tail when he could get his hands on her, and she never once bit or scratched him. When my daughter came along, I had 3 cats. 2 ignored her, and one slept in the crib with her if I forgot to close her bedroom door.
I suggest keeping the cat, and observing her behavior when the baby arrives. If you know someone with a baby, ask them to visit, pay attention to and hold the baby and watch your cat's reactions. It may help to send something home that the baby has worn while still in the hospital. Put it in the cat's normal sleeping place so she knows the baby's smell.
Do not change the litter box while pregnant, as toxoplasmosis is a risk to your baby.

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April 6, 20080 found this helpful

Keep the cat -have hubby clean the cat box for a while though - I have 2 cats that were 12 years old when my son was born. They left him alone and kept their distance, and are just now starting to interact with him (he is now 3)

Cat's don't smother babies...
Best of luck with your growing family!

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 6, 20080 found this helpful

Our cats were fine with our daughter until she got old enough to pull tails. At that point they got put outside. Here's a good tip. Put foil in the crib/bassinet/playpens when baby is not in them (and before baby arrives) to help train the cats to stay out of them. They hate jumping on the foil.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 7, 20080 found this helpful

I do not have any cats (allergic to them)but do have dogs. I was petrified of them being a problem and read along the way while I was pregnant to include any pets in my pregnancy. Sounded weird but figured what the heck! I would carry around a baby doll at the end of my pregnancy and tell them be nice to the baby and all that. When they would go near her things I would say that is the babys whatever it was and then when my daughter was born my husband brought home the dirty diapers and gowns and introduced them without her there.

When we came home my dogs were excited to meet her but kept their distance when I was feeding and then would lay down next to where ever she was when she was sleeping. Now they are all best buddies 1.5 years later!

I am not sure if that will help you but it is worth a try.... I know cats are suppose to be very smart although stubborn but give it a try! Good luck and many blessings to you!

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 7, 20080 found this helpful

My daughter's cat is a snuggler too. They do make Crib tents that you can put over the crib so the cat cannot get in. It was a big worry saver for my daughter and she got to keep her cat. Her cat is totally in love with my granddaughter from birth and she is now 9 years old.
The tents are mesh, see through and have a zip opening for ease of getting baby in and out. We are getting one for our oldest daughter who is now pregnant and has 3 cats.
Just do an internet search for "crib tent". Most of them are about $70. Cheap for piece of mind. Good luck and congratulations on your family addition ;-)

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 7, 20080 found this helpful

My only advice is to avoid cleaning the catbox while you are pregnant... other than that... KEEP YOUR CAT! Animals and kids go together like peanut butter & jelly. Kids learn respect for our little critters and pets enhance everyone's life. I have had all kinds of pets - dogs, cats, hamsters, and even chickens - in various combinations - before, after, and during the time my kids were around. Don't add to the burden of our already overcrowded shelters by passing off a creature because it suddenly seems "inconvenient." If you don't have any allergies - it is likely that your new baby won't either - so there is no reason whatsoever to get rid of your furry baby. My biggest challenge with the cats was to keep them off the clean and folded baby blankets. So, I would encourage you to not have exposed shelving where you store things for your baby that could become covered in cat hair.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 7, 20080 found this helpful

Hon, everybody way back in the day would say never have a cat around a newborn because they'll suck the breath out of them. I don't know if that's an old wives tale or not, but I do know you do not ever need to touch the litter box or anything to do with the poop. There is a disease you can get that can cause trouble with your eyesight and also it could blind your baby as well. Talk to your ob/gyn about it, I can't remember the name of it, but I had a friend that contracted it. Good luck with the new one!

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April 7, 20080 found this helpful

When I was pregnant, my doctor give me 3 vaccinations when I mentioned that I have a long hair cat. the Last one was next day after the labor. You need to talk to your doctor about the necessity of the vaccination because you also have a cat.
My cat keep the distance from my child for one year. Then she like to sleep in the crib at the legs site. I think it gave us a better energy when the cat is close to us.

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April 8, 20080 found this helpful

I never had a problem with the cat around the baby. They do tell you not to mess with the litter box. My ex wasn't too thrilled everytime I reminded him to clean it. It's been 12 years ago so I really don't remember what that was supposed to do to you. I think I read it in the book "What to expect when you're Expecting".

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 8, 20080 found this helpful

Hi, congrats on the baby! When my son was born, our cat was 12 years old and they got along wonderfully. She never once climbed in his crib or anything. Actually, she pretty much pretended he didn't exist for the first 8 months or so. Then they became best pals. The only tip I have is that after you have the baby, but before you come home from the hospital, have your hubby or someone drop off a blanket the baby used at home so your cat can get used to the smell. We did that & I think that helped. Good Luck!

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April 8, 20080 found this helpful

I had a cat when my last son was born. She loved him and slept in the infant bed with him. I asked the doctor and she said it was fine. I was worried about allergies, but he doesn't have an allergy to cats. If she is a sweet, patient cat, I would keep her. If she is a very active cat that is high strung it would be best to give her to someone else to love.

The changing of the litter is newer information which I think it is best to follow, although I did the "honors" when I was pregnant with my son. He just received his PhD and was a great athlete in school too.

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April 10, 20080 found this helpful

I have read that children that are exposed to pets before the age of two are less likely to develop allergies to animals.

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April 18, 20080 found this helpful

Thought you would like to see this picture.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 14, 2017

My dog is 4 years old. He has never been aggressive. However in the last 6 months we have moved cities and I've had a new baby. I had to spend 2 months in hospital with my little guy. Now we are home and my beautiful dog is showing signs of aggression. He nipped at my 6 year old daughter (his best friend) and today when he was caught eating off the counter he growled and snapped at my husband. Any chance I have I try to spend time with him, playing or walks. I've gotten him a good toy he plays with outside. But my son has to be isolated from germs and I'm unsure about how my dog will be with him so we haven't socialized them much. I don't know what to do. Is it normal that a dog goes through aggression when a new baby is introduced?

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By 0 found this helpful
May 5, 2011

I have a 11 month old female white Shepherd pup who has been house broken since we got her with no accidents. Recently we had to kennel her for 18 days while we were in the hospital having a baby (18 days because the baby was early and had to spend some time in the NICU).

We got home today and introduced her to the baby. She did very well with her. They sat together on the floor, and every time the baby made a peep, the dog got up and checked on her.

Well, I was feeding the baby and the dog came in the living room and started peeing on the carpet. I was so disappointed because she was doing so well with the baby and then we had this accident. Does anyone know why she may have done this? And do you have any advice on how to correct this behavior so that it doesn't happen again?

By Josh from Perry, FL

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