Babies Meeting Pets: Safety Tips to Follow


Photo by Eelco Cramer via Flickr Creative Commons

Sharing the holidays with friends and family exposes your baby to new, smiling faces. But if you’re hosting out-of-town relatives or friends, it can also mean significant environment changes. If one of your guests brings a pet into your home, there a couple of steps you should take to properly introduce your baby to the pet. Even when an animal is trained it can act irrationally or unpredictably around a baby.

Playing it safe is the best bet when your baby is around new animals; with encouragement and patience your baby and the pet will be fast friends. Here are some friendly safety tips we encourage you to follow:

Make the pet’s owner a part of the process

A pet will be most comfortable around their primary owner. When your guests arrive at your home, don’t immediately push for your baby to meet the pet. Let the owner walk the pet through your home (or the at least the rooms the pet is allowed in, depending on your feelings about pets in the house). Everyone should be at ease when meeting—you, the owner, the pet, and your baby. Keep in mind that you and the owner set the tone for your baby and the pet! If you’re visiting a home for a party, politely ask your host or hostess if they wouldn’t mind introducing their pet to your baby in a quiet space.

Have treats on hand

Gentle, encouraging words will go a long way with a pet. As the pet sniffs or inspects your baby, both you and the owner should reward good behavior with words and dog biscuits. Make the pet aware that patient behavior is expected and will be rewarded. Do not rush the introduction—slowly bring the baby and the pet together once they’ve been in the same room. Avoid anything that makes the pet anxious or too excited. A calm atmosphere and tone of voice will ease the pet’s anxiety about strangers and new smells.

Keep the pet included in the fun

No one likes to be left out—pets included. If your family is gathered in the living room, reminiscing about past holidays, carve out a space where the dog or cat can comfortably relax with the group. Don’t forget to scratch behind a pet’s ears every once in a while! Pets act out sometimes because they feel like their being ignored (much like children!) so don’t exclude them from the fun. Furry creatures like to spend the holidays with their families just like us, so do what you can to make the atmosphere ideal for pets and humans alike!