In general, pets are at greater risk from kids than the other way around. Kids can learn positive values from caring for and playing with animals, such as responsibility and respect for living things that aren’t parents, siblings, or peers. Try to teach Jimmy not to tug on the cat’s tail or drop things on the dog for fun. Bites and scratches, whether provoked or unprovoked, represent the primary danger to children from household pets. We’ve all heard the myths about cats sleeping on babies’ heads and smothering them. Not only is such a bizarre occurrence very unlikely, I could not find a single documented case in the literature. Usually, the less the cat sees the baby, the happier that cat will be.
Pet allergies are rare, even with a known predisposition (if, say, one or both parents are known to be allergic). They usually require a few years of exposure to develop, so they aren’t a concern for parents of young babies. If such allergies do show up, they’re obvious, producing teary eyes, sneezing, rashes, and even asthmatic reactions. If this happens, you may consider removing the pet from the home. You also have less extreme options: anti-dander shampoo for the pet, high-quality air filters, and even anti-allergy shots to desensitize Jimmy. Note that there are hypoallergenic dogs such as poodles, which shed no fur or dander and are thus ideal for allergic households.