Introducing your pet to your newborn baby can be nerve-racking, particularly if your pet is an adult animal. As a rule, kittens and puppies are more likely to adapt to change, and often pets that grow up alongside a baby will treat their human counterpart as a littermate. On the other hand, a well-trained adult pet can be taught from day one to respect your newborn using special commands and can even be a trusted protector of your child.
When introducing your pet to your newborn baby, choose surroundings that are familiar to your pet but about which it won't feel territorial. An example would be a room in the house where the pet is allowed to enter and sit or lie down if it behaves (such as a bedroom). This is preferable to the main living area where the animal may have already established a territory, the kitchen or any place where you feed the pet. If the weather is nice, you may choose to move outdoors but only if your pet does not become too excited.
Choose a time when everyone is relaxed. Your pet should be well fed, relaxed and not overly excited or tired. Likewise your baby should be fed, clean and calm; a crying, cranky baby will only confuse and possibly irritate your pet.
Calmness is key when introducing your pet to your newborn baby. Both can and will pick up on trigger signs from you if you are panicking inside, so work on making sure you are calm. Use a low, even voice and talk to both your pet and your baby as you allow your pet to investigate. Reassure your pet by stroking him gently on the neck and praising him. Likewise, if your baby seems startled or worried, soothe him or her with calm talking and some gentle rocking.
Keep a sharp lookout for any signs of aggression on the part of your pet (laid back ears, lips lifted away from teeth, growling or spitting) and instantly remove your baby if any of these occur. Discipline the pet verbally with a strong 'No!' and walk the pet away from the baby. After a few minutes, return and try again, reassuring and petting the animal as you approach. If needed, simply focus on having the animal relax, sitting or lying down near the baby in a calm posture for a short period several times a day until it realizes that the newborn is no threat.
Don't leave your pet alone with the baby until you are completely certain there is nothing to fear, and always exercise caution at feeding time or when your pet is excited. Likewise, try to minimize contact when your baby is screaming or cranky, as you do not want your pet to associate unpleasantness with the baby's presence. Using these methods and being patient is the best way to let your pet and your newborn baby get to know each other.