Contributed by Elise Sommer
I will start by saying that every bunny is different, and every child is different so parents of bunnies and babies will have to follow their own instincts to create a safe home for everyone. Babies and children should not be left unattended with bunnies.
My husband and I had our two very spoiled bunnies for 5 months when we found out that we were expecting our first child. We had two female rabbits that had just become bonded, Coffey (Netherland Dwarf) and Mocha (Mini Rex), and now we were going to add a loud, stinky, screaming human into the house. Suffice it to say, as a mother–to-be, I was very worried.
As most parents do about anything, we searched the web and pretty much found out that rabbits and children are not really a good mix. I imagined the worst, our two girls going crazy every time the baby cried…and what if we had a colicky child? We weren’t willing to give up our two girls until we absolutely had to so we set about getting the house ready.
First, we established that the rabbits were not allowed into the baby’s room, especially as they seemed to love all the fun new wood furniture. I didn’t want my baby exposed to too much fur and noise until we were certain that he wouldn’t be allergic. Other than disappointment at no longer being able to wander into a couple of rooms, the bunnies didn’t really care much. As the bunnies have free run over one of our living areas, we put up a playpen that they couldn’t access so that we could put the baby down in the room for short periods without worrying about trouble.
Once the baby arrived, we were pleasantly surprised. The rabbits completely ignored our son. He could cry right next to where they were sleeping and they wouldn’t even stir. I was relieved beyond words. I have to give credit here to my husband, who was able to still give the bunnies plenty of love, attention and grooming despite the long hours and stressed household.
One of the best parts I found about having rabbits while being a new mom is that they would keep me company. They weren’t allowed into the baby’s room, but would sit outside the metal gate (never get plastic baby gates for bunnies, they just shred them) and keep me company during the many feedings. It was nice to have someone who seemed to understand during those 3am feedings and seemed to offer me a mental ‘you aren’t alone’ when I needed it. It was also nice to watch their binkying and fun antics around the hall, bunnies are always entertaining and smiles can be hard to get when you are sleep deprived.
I’m not going to say that those first few months were easy. We had one incident in which one of the rabbits jumped onto the baby, who was being fed laying on the couch, in her search for treats. While it was a complete shock to me as I fed the baby, it was accidental and both reacted with surprise but no pain. With adjustments made to how the baby was fed and encouraging the bunnies to not jump up onto the couch, all was put to right. Fortunately, our rabbits are small and no harm was done, other than to my mental health.
Now that our son is a bit older (7.5 months), we are teaching him how to interact with the bunnies, reinforcing good gentle behaviours and allowing the bunnies to sniff him up close. We are teaching our son that he is only allowed to interact with the rabbits with our supervision, and teaching the bunnies that our son is an ‘ok’ kid.
The moral of the story is that bunnies and babies are not such a bad mix. With thought and preparation, the bunnies will still get the love they need, and the baby will learn that bunnies are an important part of the family to be respected.
Attached is a picture of my husband holding my son, while playing gently with Coffey. That’s a Craisin (our girl’s all-time favourite treat) on his foot to try to attract Coffey so that she gets positive associations with the baby. It worked great to give treats to the bunnies when we introduced our niece and nephew (3 and 6 at the time) so now the rabbits look forward to the kids visiting.
About Elise Sommer: I am Elise, proud bunny Mom to Coffey (2 year old female Netherland Dwarf) and Mocha (1.5 year old female Mini Rex).
Note: The above article was submitted by a guest author. All articles written by guest authors do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of ilovemyhouserabbit.com