As a newborn photographer, I get a lot of fun requests from my clients. During newborn session planning, everything from family heirloom props to fun themes are common topics. However, one request I get a little less frequently is including family pets in newborn photos.
I’m a pet lover myself, so it’s hard for me to say no to including a furry family member in photos. Still, your newest family member’s safety is essential, especially in the studio. Here are some things I have done — and you can, too– to keep your newborn safe around your pet while taking photos.
Dogs & cats are intelligent! There are countless studies about how your pets learn from you (and even manipulate you). So, one of the best ways to keep your pet safe around your little one is to show them how to act around them. Always use a gentle & quiet voice around your baby, even if your pet is acting up. Handle your baby gently around your pet, and when baby gets older, you can also model gentle behavior toward your pet in front of your baby.
Even the best photographers out there only like working with well-behaved pets who can take commands. This is not only for taking beautiful photos, but it ensures your baby’s welfare. Before starting your newborn photo session with your pet, show the photographer all the commands your pet knows. You’ll wow your photographer, and you’ll ensure your baby is safe.
You can even train your cat! (seriously). When training your pet, look for trainers who work with positive reinforcement strategies. These have been shown to work better than negative reinforcement training methods. They also are better for your pet’s mental wellbeing!
Pets tend to act out when they are bored or discontent. This is especially common when you’re bringing a newborn home. Your pet was your one and only for a large portion of their life, and it is disrupting for them when you bring a little one into the picture (don’t worry! They will likely learn to love them)
Make sure to set aside some time to play with, exercise, and pet your furry companion each day to reassure them you still care about them. This will also ensure they don’t have pent-up energy, which could unintentionally hurt your newborn.
This shouldn’t be a hot take, but to reinforce it — never leave your newborn alone with your pet.
Your baby won’t ever be alone in my Cedar Park studio with me, but it’s pretty standard for babies to be alone when they are sleeping. Make sure to separate your baby and pet when they are alone by closing the door to the baby’s room and ensuring your baby monitor is working well. Naptime can even be a great time to get in some snuggles with your furbaby.
When your baby and furbaby hang out, parents and people watching babies should always be prepared to step in when needed. Even if they were getting along just fine, you don’t know what your pet and your newborn are thinking.
Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior and watch for changes that mean it’s time to break up the interaction. Signs of behavior to look out for in dogs include:
Signs of aggressive behavior in cats include:
Also, remember: even though you don’t know what your pet is thinking, you know their personality. If you feel as though something is off, it probably is.
Finally, it’s essential to work with a safety-trained newborn photographer when it comes time to take your newborn photos. Photographers trained in infant safety and posing safety make sure your newborn is safe during photos and can take action in case of an emergency.
I love pets, and I want to include yours in your child’s newborn photos. Let’s talk about your pet and their newest sibling and make a plan for their newborn photos.