New Pets & Baby Safety Tips

Babies and pets can be adorable together, but keep these safety reminders and tips in mind.

While some may wonder whether new pets and babies can coexist, I've found it is possible to introduce a new pet into the family successfully when you follow certain safety tips.

When my daughter was just two and my son was six, I decided we needed a family dog. Looking back, the driving reason may have been because I couldn't have any more children, but I went on a mission to research and find our first family pet.

Thankfully, we found the best pet for us in the form of a 12-pound rescue pup and he really has completed our family. We call him our "velcro dog" because he loves being around people of all ages, but I've always been mindful that he is an animal, so safety and wellness concerns should always be carefully considered.

If you have a baby and a fur-baby at home, or if you’re among the many families who are considering adding baby's first pet to your household, here are important safety tips to keep in mind so that everyone stays safe and happy in your home.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

1. Regular Check-ups

Make certain to stay current with your pet’s check-ups and their vaccines. You want to be sure that baby is protected against anything your pet might bring into the home. Keeping everyone (including your fur-baby) healthy helps to make a happier home environment and can help reduce stress.

2. “Good with kids” still requires supervision

Keep in mind that even if your pet is known for being “good with kids,” transitions and new routines/sounds can bother or disturb your pet in unexpected ways. Never assume that just because your pet has been good with kids in the past, they are guaranteed to act that way in the future.

This is true for friends’ or neighbors’ children, as well as if this is your second or third baby, and everything went totally smoothly with your first baby. I have the most gentle and sweet-natured dog, but I always keep a watchful eye whenever children (my own or others) are loving on him. While he is 10-pounds of pure love, you just never know and I’d rather be safe than sorry. Ultimately, as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to maintain safety.

3. Never leave baby alone with your pet

It should go without saying that your baby and your pet should NEVER be left alone in the same room unattended. If you need to jump in the shower, please make sure that your pet and baby are in separate rooms with no ability to get to one another. Also, once baby becomes mobile and is playing on the floor, make sure not to leave your baby alone with your pet, even for a moment.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

4. Commotion

Even if baby's first pet usually does well with commotion in the house, a new baby brings all sorts of new commotion – new sounds, new smells, visitors and traffic in the house, and of course added fatigue. Your pet may not receive as much attention, especially in the beginning as the new family dynamic settles in.

Keep in mind that it’s not possible to predict how your pet might respond to commotion, so in addition to all of the safety tips covered here, a watchful eye on your pet can help you recognize how Fido is responding/reacting. Even a pet that is usually calm can get bothered with the many changes of having a baby, and their behavior could be altered as a result.

5. Be aware of pet’s and baby’s cues

You’ll want to be sure that your pet continues to follow the various cues you’ve worked on and used in the past, and that you continue to promote and reinforce those cues/commands. This can help when your hands are full, when you are lying down, or when you have baby in your arms. You don’t want a jumping dog when you are trying to settle down for naptime.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to watch your baby’s cues –to let you know if something your pet does bothers them, and in order to help ensure a healthy, positive relationship between your two babies. If a dog accidentally gets too excited or frightens baby, it can become a source of stress that you want to be aware of. As your baby grows, it will be important to teach various pet safety guidelines – ranging from controlling volume around your pet, to not looking an animal right in the eyes.

My daughter was almost two years old when we adopted our dog, and I was taught early on by a friend that kids should never get down and look him right in the eyes. The rationale I was taught was that a dog can misinterpret that as a threat and try to command dominance. These are the kinds of tips your veterinarian or animal trainer will be able to share with you.

There are so many wonderful benefits to having family pets, and with the right preparation, pets and babies can develop a truly rewarding relationship. Let us know what has worked for you, and what you would caution against. It helps when we learn from each other and share our personal experiences.

Article Continues Below Advertisement

Disclosure: This post provides content and discussion related to health, wellness, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog including links should not be considered medical advice and should not be construed as such. Any health/wellness information should not be considered an alternative or replacement for information given to you by a licensed physician. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with a licensed physician.

Linda Scruggs

Linda Scruggs

Linda Scruggs RN, BSN serves as a resource for parents in the digital space, creating helpful health and wellness content. She has specialized for over 12 years in reproductive medicine, and family and women's health as a nurse. A mom of two young children, her work can be seen on her own blog via her site,, as a contributor to The Huffington Post, and created the patient education program in one of the top fertility centers in the country. Linda is all about empowerment in motherhood and would love to connect.

Follow Linda Scruggs:

Facebook Comments