Baby steps


How to introduce your newborn baby to your pet.

Pregnant woman taking her dog for a work
If your due date is just around the corner, there’s a good chance you are already feeling anxious about the birth of your child, let alone the introduction of your newborn baby to your beloved cat or dog.

The good news is your fur baby has probably already clued on to what’s happening as pets are able to recognise changes in your behaviour, body posture and daily routine. Although not all pets are easy-going when it comes to change, some may become more anxious, clingy or protective during your pregnancy.

Whether you have a cat or dog, it’s important to start training your pet months prior to the arrival of your baby to help them better understand and adjust to the changes happening in your household and to your lifestyle. Here are some tips to get you started.

Baby items throughout the house

Pets are very inquisitive and often have a very good eye for spotting something new in your household. Get your pet used to new items in the home such as prams, cots, musical mobiles and baby toys so that the new items don’t excite them. Make sure they are used to new smells such a baby powder, lotions and blankets.

Baby gates

If you are planning to install some baby gates to create some ’pet-free‘ areas in the home, it’s best to enforce these changes early. Ensure your pet responds to basic commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ and refresh their training if your pet is older. If you are struggling to train your pet seek help from a professional and enrol them in a training class.

Ensure veterinary care is up to date

Make sure your pet has had a thorough check up at the vet before your baby is born. Ensure all their medications, including vaccinations, are up to date. Take the opportunity to discuss any health concerns you may have in relations to your pet so that you can have these issues resolved before bringing your baby home.

Pre-plan pet care for when you are in hospital

While planning for your hospital stay it’s important to pre-plan for your pet’s stay as well. The length of time that you spend in hospital could vary depending on your needs so make sure your pet is ready for last minute pet care or a pet sitter.  

Bringing baby home

Before bringing your newborn baby inside, make sure you have a family or friend there to help you. It’s best to let someone else hold the baby while you greet your pet because they probably haven’t seen you since you first went into hospital. Once your pet has calmed down from the excitement of being reunited with you, put them outside or in another room while you bring the baby inside. Once everyone is comfortable and ready slowly and calmly introduce your pet to the baby, letting your pet adjust to the baby’s smell and presence in the house.

Keep them entertained

The last thing you want to do after bringing home a baby is ignore your pet. If you are struggling to play with your cat or walk your dog there are plenty of services available online. Make a connection with other dog owners in your community and call out to friends and family if you need help.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.