Whole Parenting Family

Bringing Home a Baby to Your Pets

(Photo Credit: Emily Rumsey Photography)

We love our pets. Raising children with domesticated animals is a fabulous gift to the children. We have two dogs and two cats. They were our babies until J arrived. The transition was easier than I thought it would be for the pets. A few things helped ease the transition:

1) Introduce the baby through scent.

We brought a hospital receiving blanket home specifically for the dogs to smell. Not that they didn’t smell all over J’s carseat, face, legs, and any part of him that they could reach, but it was handy to have something that could easily be covered in saliva and hair sans problem.

The cats could smell him a mile away–and liked to keep their distance initially so there was no cause for concern on their account.

2) Allow the animals to approach (or hide).

Our dogs sniff J continuously. Every single part of him or his clothing (especially diapers) that they can get at. Sometimes our Great Dane licks his scalp. We discourage licking of the hands or face, but don’t shoo them away if they want to come and say hi. J takes a stab at petting the dogs and cats, which amounts to pressing his hand against their fur and trying to pull it towards his mouth. I encourage him to be “gentle” and demonstrate often how to pat, not grab.

To constantly shout “No!” or “Go Lie Down!” whenever an animal approaches instills fear or apprehension in your little one. Similarly, one of our cats can’t stand J pulling at her or even coming near her. We don’t force her to be social. She has warmed to him a little, but prefers her personal space.

3) Ensure extra attention is given to them.

Pets can be in for a real shocker when your bundle of joy arrives. It is only logical that your pets will receive less attention than they are accustomed to. We spend extra time petting the cats, taking the dogs out doors to play, and even give extra treats. Even if you don’t have a mini petting zoo like we do, if you do have a pet, ensure he or she gets a little extra love and attention once baby arrives to steal the spotlight!


  1. Joseph on April 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I think, especially with young boys having a dog around the house is invaluable! It’s an instant relationship and they really grow as friends! In my experience dogs become very protective and very…understanding… of tugs, pinches, crushing, etc… The natural parental instinct comes into play, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch!

    Good luck! Sounds fun!

  2. elizabeth on April 17, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Totally agree! We had a friend bring home the blanket C was in before his first bath in the hospital and put it right near the dog’s bed. We also let the dog sniff whenever she likes, but tend to do a little shooing when she tries to lick. Our cat, too, really prefers to be outside the vicinity of the small screaming person. However, when I’m feeding C, she’s all up in our business. Wonder if she smells milk?

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