How to introduce your pets to a new baby

Bringing your new baby home is an exciting and stressful time for the whole family, including your family pet. Whether it is a dog, cat, bird, fish, or any other animal, there will be changes for you and for them when a new baby comes home.

Jade Elliott sits down with Kaitlin Carpenter, MD, a pediatrician with Intermountain Healthcare, to discuss the best ways to introduce your baby to a family pet on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast.

Some studies have shown that children with pets in their home at an early age have less risk of developing asthma by age 7. Another study showed that children with dogs or cats in their home in the first year of life had fewer and less severe respiratory infections. While the precise cause is unclear, these positive outcomes could be a result of good exposures and possibly because the children are building a health microbiome with help from a pet.

There are some easy things new parents can do to ease the transition for babies and pets:

  • Before the baby comes home, prepare your animal.
  1. Mess with their food while they are eating.
  2. Gently pull on ears and tails.
  3. Some parents will even play loud crying noises.
  4. Consider getting your stroller out so that the animal can get used to it.
  • Give your animal their own space.
  1. Find a good place outside.
  2. If possible, block off the area with the pet’s food bowl so that it doesn’t become a temptation for babies.
  3. Place cat litter boxes well out of reach
  4. Make sure aquariums are high enough that little hands can’t reach them to pull them over.

First introductions are important

Even the best animal may not react normally. Always watch your animal around your baby. Cats often like to sit on babies. Dogs like to lick babies’ faces.

Just like siblings need extra attention when a new baby comes home, it’s also important to give your pets some extra attention when possible. Include them on walks with the stroller. A few extra belly rubs can go a long way.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.