Introducing your newborn to your pet can go smoothly-if you’re prepared. While cats are not usually aggressive towards infants, they can be curious. Make the crib and playpen “no-cat zones” even before the baby arrives. To make a whole room off limits, install a temporary screen door, or try Ssscat, a motion detector that sprays a nontoxic gas when the cat goes near it (PetSmart, $40).
As for dogs, some may have dominance issues. Dr. Sarah Machell, a veterinarian in Oakville, says, “Make sure your dog has training. That way, he’ll understand his role in the home’s hierarchy.” She also recommends having a crate so your pet has a safe haven from a crying newborn.
You can familiarize dogs with baby sounds and smells by inviting friends to bring their newborns over, or turning on a mechanical swing. Also, moisturize with baby oil.
To help encourage bonding, maintain your dog’s walking routine, and bring baby along. For cats, “spend 15 minutes a day grooming or playing,” advises Machell.
But if your little ones just don’t get along, Best Friends Animal Society suggests petfinder.com or posting flyers to find your pet a new home.
This article was originally titled “Introducing Your Newborn to Your Pet,” in the February 2011 issue of Reader’s Digest. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!