Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on ThePlayhouse.org. Ms. Anwar has graciously allowed us to repost it here.
There’s something magical about Baby curling up with your fluffy cat or shaggy dog for a nap; both parties seem utterly blissful as they warm each other.
In most instances, this is a wonderful blossoming relationship that can be nurtured through childhood. But occasionally, a jealous pup or irate cat can harm your baby if you aren’t 100% certain that your pet can be trusted.
Even prior to pregnancy, it’s important to introduce babies to your pets. Enlist friends or family members with children for “pet playdates”; be extremely cautious as you introduce your kitten or puppy to little humans.
When walking your dog on the street, allow children to pet him if you’re certain he has the personality for it (if not, this is not the right pet for your new baby). When your kitten enters the house make sure she is handled by children early on, so she acclimatizes to the marked difference between adult and child’s play.
If your pet is not friendly, it is extremely important that you’re realistic prior to the birth of your baby, and find a new, more suitable forever home for your pet, one without small children.
Some breeds are more affable to being manhandled by a toddler, and other breeds have no tolerance at all. Research well, and if you are rescuing an animal, be sure you get as much history as possible on their behavior with children and their pedigree before bringing the pet home. Watch very closely, never leaving the pet and baby alone together, particularly if the adopted pet is mature and has already established how he feels about babies!
Only when you are certain there is rapport between your pet and your baby can they interact, but you must always be vigilant. Even calm humans can snap when provoked, so expect nothing less from your pet.
With strange cats and dogs, always assume they could bite or scratch; keep a distance before asking whether you and your baby can pet them. Acclimatizing your baby to animals very early on will prevent both fear and allergies forming.
There really is nothing more beautiful than the relationship between a baby and their pet. But do your homework to ensure that it remains happy and healthy for everyone involved.