Children's Health

Getting your pets ready for a baby's arrival

Bringing a newborn home from the hospital comes with a whole new set of questions and concerns: Is the house baby-proofed correctly and is the nursery set up right? If you’re a pet owner with a new bundle of joy, those inquiries likely center on preparing your four-legged friends for the newest addition to your home.

Although cats and dogs likely can sense change well before your little one is born, pet experts say taking small steps four to six months before delivery, like changing your dog’s walking schedule, can help make for a smoother transition.

Dr. Judy Morgan, a veterinarian in Clayton, New Jersey, said one good place to start is by setting boundaries in your home.   

“If you do not want the dog and cat to go into the nursery, start training them to stay out of the room before the baby arrives — and yes, cats are trainable too,” Morgan told Fox News.

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Helping your pets adjust to new smells can also help prepare them for your new baby. That’s especially true for dogs, whose sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times as acute as humans’, scientists say.

“Allow your pet to become familiar with baby items in the home, let them smell the crib, let them hear the baby toy noises,” Dr. Alison Birken Streit, a veterinarian in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, told Fox News.

Streit advises new dads to take baby items, like a receiving blanket, a diaper or a bottle, home to your cat or dog so that when your newborn arrives home, your pet will already be familiar with his or her smell.

Dr. Katie Friedman, a pediatrician at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida, said an important factor to remember is no matter how friendly or trained your pet is, animals should never be left completely alone with your newborn. Rather than leaving the two to become friends on their own, help your pet and newborn gradually familiarize themselves with one another. She noted that typically, dogs in particular are less likely to attack a child if an adult is around.

“You need to see how they respond to the baby before they can get too close to your infant,” Friedman told Fox News. “Bring them into the same room to see what their reaction is.”

Do you have a health question? Tweet Dr. Manny @drmannyonFOX.