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Babies and pets: Can they co-exist?

If you’re curious whether your pet and baby can co-exist harmoniously, this article should address your concerns.

Are they able to co-exist? Can babies and pets co-exist? Read this mom's answers to frequently asked questions about babies and pets living in the same home.

When my husband and I adopted a female Siamese cat in the first trimester of my pregnancy, we received so much flak from other people for bringing home a potential baby hazard.

There were warnings of how the cat fur would give my child asthma, breathing problems, rashes, allergies, and a whole slew of other health problems. Until today, the queries have not stopped.

In a way then, I hope this article helps address those queries. If you’re curious whether your pet and baby can co-exist harmoniously, read on.

Will my pet hurt my baby?

Unless your pet is the aggressive sort and exhibits signs of violence, or is fiercely protective about his territory, there is nothing to worry about! Most dogs are good with children while most cats are very docile by nature, so there is no reason why your pet would attack your baby.

Even in the event where your unknowing toddler agitates your pet by handling it roughly, it is not common that your pet would attack in response. Most of them would simply walk away from the offending little person.

Will my pet's animal hair give my baby allergies?

Theoretically, animal hair is not much of an allergen — it is the stuff that gets trapped in the fur that causes allergic reactions. So, keeping your pet clean will reduce the chances of allergic reactions.

However, it is important to note that parents with any form of allergy would have higher chances of genetically passing on the tendency to have allergies that may or may not be similar to the parent.

There has also been scientific proof that early exposure of pets in a baby’s life may reduce chances of the child developing allergy-related symptoms like asthma. It seems as though it may be possible for newborns to get accustomed to fur (and the allergen particles that may be found in it) and thus avoid developing any allergies.

 Will my pet be jealous of the new baby?

Unless your pet is the type who doesn’t care much about how many hugs she gets a day, most pets will probably feel neglected after the baby arrives. They may be moody, have a reduced appetite, and may even go through stages of withdrawal from human contact.

Thus, even if we might be overwhelmed by the demands of a new baby, it would be important to dedicate some one-on-one time with our pet daily. In other words, our pets should more or less be given the same treatment that we would give to any existing older children in the house.

How do I prepare my pet for the baby?

If you’re one of those pet owners who believe that your dog or cat is capable of understanding human language, share the news of your pregnancy with them like you would to an existing older child. Pets often play the role of an older sibling – playing with and watching over the newborn when Mom’s not watching – so preparing them for a new member in the family is crucial.

It would be advisable to set up the baby’s room earlier so that your pet can get used to the changes in the house. If you would prefer your pet to stay off the baby’s crib or even out of the baby's room, this would be a suitable time to start training your pet about the new boundaries.

Also, even though it may sound far-fetched for some, it would be a good idea to expose your pet to babies before you’re actually due. Animals have a much sharper sense of hearing than us, and the piercing cries of a newborn may prove too much for their sensitive ears.

Ultimately, getting them used to the sights and sounds of a newborn will prepare them better for what’s to come.

Pets and babies can live together in harmony

Personally, I know many success stories of parents who raise their offspring in the presence of pets and none have any horror stories to tell. In fact, most pets take well to the introduction of a new family member and even go on to form meaningful human-animal relationships with them.

It's most likely then that your pet will eventually become your child’s best playmate, and their relationship will help cultivate your child’s love for animals.

My baby (who is no longer truly a baby anymore) loves to play with our pet cat, and even invites her into bed to nap with him. He has not suffered any pet-related ailments so far and now, at 20 months, I believe he probably will not start having problems with animal fur.

So if you were to come up to me and ask me if babies and pets can co-exist, my answer would definitely be 'yes'!

What tips can you share to help babies and pets co-exist peacefully together? Share them with us by leaving a comment! 

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