Is It Okay for Newborns to Live With Pets?

What can parents do when a newborn arrives home to a house with pets? During the first months of the baby's life, there shouldn't be any contact with the pets. Hygiene is fundamental for the child's health.
Is It Okay for Newborns to Live With Pets?

Last update: 31 October, 2018

Many parents wonder if it’s okay for newborns to live with pets. While the animal shouldn’t be abandoned by the family, it’s also true that the owners should keep it as far away from the baby as possible, at least during the first month after birth.

Is it advisable for newborns to live with pets?

There are many discussions about how positive it may be for newborns to live with pets. From a health and hygiene standpoint, it’s undoubtedly a valid question. The newborn must always be protected.

Doctors specializing in pediatrics explain that during the first month after birth, it’s advisable to keep pets away from babies. This doesn’t imply that they must leave home; simply keep them away from the room where the infant is.

The reality is that newborn babies don’t have many defenses in their bodies. That’s why they’re much more vulnerable to infection. Special care is needed to protect them.

Beyond the animal’s hygiene, the hair that it sheds can cause allergies and respiratory irritation in the baby. This could trigger problems such as a cough and, in more severe cases, asthma.

Tips for helping newborns and pets coexist

1. Hygiene

It’s very important to maintain excellent hygiene in the home and among all household members. Pets must also be clean, dewormed and completely up to date on vaccinations. This aspect is essential when welcoming the newborn, as well as during the first few months of life.

Is It Okay for Newborns to Live With Pets?

2. Avoid jealousy

Many pets may feel jealous of the new family member when he or she arrives home. For this reason, it’s recommended that parents bring one of the baby’s blankets or garments to the house to allow the animal to smell it and become familiar with the baby’s scent.

The pet can also be allowed to sniff the baby, always under careful supervision and with the child’s face covered.

It’s important to get the animal accustomed to changes and to train him accordingly. In this way, both the baby and the pet can live together in perfect harmony and probably develop a very special relationship when the child is older.

3. Avoid leaving the child alone with the pet

It’s vital that the child is never left alone with the pet, at least in the beginning. You never know how the animal may react to the newborn.

This point is very important, because the animal can harm the baby, even unintentionally, by wanting to play and get his or her attention.

4. Discipline

The pet’s owners must have discipline and reproach it adequately if at any time the animal acts aggressive or hostile toward the baby. The pet must learn to respect its new family member.

“It’s important to get the animal accustomed to changes and to train him accordingly.”

5. Special attention

It’s recommended that owners pay special attention to the animal in the first days after the birth of the baby. The main reason is to minimize jealousy and thus avoid aggressive behavior toward the newborn.

Is It Okay for Newborns to Live With Pets?

6. Avoid close contact

As we’ve seen, it’s important that the animal doesn’t have direct contact with the baby, at least during its first month of life. Although the pet is very clean, it can always transmit parasites and cause allergies in the child, especially if it licks the baby or if the baby comes in direct contact with the pet’s hair.

Parasitism is among the diseases the child could develop, which is characterized by diarrhea and vomiting. This can seriously jeopardize the child’s health. The baby could also develop allergies that trigger asthma and cough, among other conditions.

Although it’s sweet to see the connection a pet can have with a small baby, it’s also true that such intimate contact can trigger perfectly preventable diseases.

At least during the first month, direct contact between newborns and pets should be avoided. As the baby grows, so will his defenses, and then he can play with the family pet.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.