I've been watching lots of baby shows and, for a first time mum to be, they have been quite educational in some ways and have certainly made me think about how I will handle particular situations. But I have been really quite shocked and angry by how some of the parents behave with their pets once the baby has been bought home. As an owner of 3 cats, I understand how pets can feel like part of the family and you can think that you know them very well. However you really can't assume that you'll know how your pets are going to react to a new baby, especially if it's the first one in the household.
I've been astonished and furious after seeing people dangling their cat over the baby - close enough for the cat to scratch the baby's face should it be so inclined and one cry from the baby and who knows for sure how a shocked cat is going to react. I've seen other cats allowed to sleep on changing tables and in cots - I wonder how they'll react when the baby steals their new nest?
Never mind dogs licking the baby's face or being allowed to wake the baby up. You might know that your soppy dog wouldn't harm a fly but how do you think your baby is supposed to know that? (never mind the fact that lots of dog attacks are done by dogs which have never behaved aggressively before according to their faithful owners). One surprising use of a dog when it comes to child care was seeing the baby's sick being cleaned up by the dog - and no, not with a mop and bucket. Gross but, I guess, practical.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't have pets but I really think that some of the parents featured on these shows need to think things through a little bit more, particularly in the sense of how your pet appears from your baby's point of view and how your pet might feel about the new addition who is stealing all the attention from them.
I know that our cats are going to be cheesed off that they will be getting less attention in the early days, particularly Luke who is a real mummy's boy. Fortunately they always get scared away by having people over so I'm sure we'll be given some space to start off with and they won't be allowed in the bedrooms at all. Despite what some people think, it is possible to train cats and we'll be starting early so that they know some of the boundaries in advance.