TLDR: Bringing a human baby home to live alongside your cat can lead to some potential safety issues, particularly with the crib or bassinet. Spending time prior to your baby’s arrival on aversion techniques for furniture that you want the cat to avoid can significantly reduce the risk of injury to your baby.
Additionally, precautions such as placing the bassinet away from other surfaces and investing in a bassinet cover can provide an additional layer of protection once your baby moves in permanently.
If you have a new baby in your home or you are expecting, you have probably purchased a bassinet. When babies are very little, the bassinet is a safe option for keeping them close by while you both attempt to sleep.
If you have curious or rambunctious pets, though, a bassinet can become a potential safety issue. While your cat will likely be averse to the smell and sounds of your new baby and give her a wide berth, there is a chance that curiosity will win out and you will want to take preventative measures to dissuade him.
Cat-proof bassinet: no tipping, no fuss
Since the bassinet typically rests on lightweight and portable legs, it is possible to tip the bed over fairly easily. One of the best ways to prevent the bassinet from getting knocked over is to purchase one with a wide base at the bottom and with legs on each corner of the bed as opposed to a single stand. This will provide more stability and reduce the likelihood of anyone knocking it over, including your pets.
You should also place the bassinet away from tables or other surfaces. This is especially important if you have cats that like to jump from countertops and furniture and you expect them to attempt this with the bassinet.
How to cat proof a baby crib or bassinet
If you plan to create a cat proof bassinet or crib, you will want to want to ensure that your modifications are safe for your baby. Remember that a crib or bassinet, especially for a newborn, is intended to be bare aside from the mattress. Regardless of the solution that you come up with to keep your cat out of the crib or bassinet, you will want to minimize the materials and items that you introduce to the environment.
One way to make the crib less appealing to your cat is to remove the crib or bassinet mattress when not in use.
While tin foil and double-sided tape work to keep your cat out, these should not be used in the bassinet or crib while the baby is in there. These materials could easily be ingested by the baby or cover their mouth and nose, preventing them from breathing safely.
Do not use solid crib bumpers or blankets to prevent the cat from having space to get in, since these also pose a suffocation risk to your baby.
What to look for in a cat proof bassinet cover
Keeping the safety tips above in mind, if you opt for a bassinet cover to solve your cat concerns, make sure that it is made of mesh. This material will be breathable and keep your baby safe and comfortable. Do not use sheets or blankets to cover the crib or bassinet when the baby is in there, as these can lead to an increased risk of suffocation.
Additionally, make sure that whatever cover you use will not collapse in on your baby if your cat happens to jump on it or someone bumps into the crib or bassinet. If you are purchasing a bassinet cover, choose one that has a strong frame supporting the mesh covering.
This will provide height to the cover to keep it away from your baby’s face and will maintain that distance even if the cat jumps at it. The shape of these covers also makes it difficult for your cat to sit atop it, further discouraging access to the bassinet.
If you’re feeling crafty…
If you want to try to DIY and make your own bassinet cover, there are a few ways to approach it. If your bassinet already has a hood built-in, you can purchase a drawstring mosquito net to fit around it. This will provide a stable structure for the mesh from the hood without requiring too much hands-on crafting and tools.
Alternatively, you could repurpose the sunshade from an old car seat or stroller in a similar way. You can remove the fabric covering from the moveable arms and recover it with a mesh fabric. This will provide you with the dome shape to keep the cover out of your baby’s face and far above her in the event that the cat decides to try and join her.
How to keep your cat out of the bassinet
One of the best ways to keep your cat away from the crib and bassinet after the baby arrives is to create deterrents for them beforehand. Similar to strategies you might use to keep your cat away from your Christmas tree, use textures and sounds that your pet is averse to in order to create a negative association with the bassinet or crib.
Aim to begin employing these as you wait for the baby to arrive, and be sure to be consistent once the baby comes. Even when the baby is not in the bassinet, the cat should still be discouraged from accessing it or other off-limits furniture to ensure that they avoid it when the baby is present.
To introduce a non preferred texture to your curious cat, remove the mattress from the bottom of the bassinet. This will create an uncomfortable and unwelcoming environment for your cat if he manages to jump in.
You can also place a layer of double-sided tape or tin foil on the bottom of the bassinet, as these provide a sensation on their paws that cats intensely dislike. Double sided-tape and tin foil can also be used on top of other furniture in the baby’s room or around the house to further discourage your cat from going anywhere that could allow them to jump into the crib or bassinet.
Noises can also work to keep skittish pets out of the bassinet. Placing a tin pan on the mattress that will reverberate when the cat jumps on it can help to signal to them to avoid the bassinet or crib. You can also rattle or bang items together when the cat gets in the baby’s furniture, though this method requires more attention and consistency from you.
If your cat remains persistent and committed to finding his way into the bassinet, you could place a layer of balloons in the bottom. Once he hears one pop, the noise should keep him from attempting to explore that area further.
Once your baby arrives, it is very likely that the cat will steer clear of your new noisy human. The scent of the baby and it’s unpredictable cries and coos should keep your pets at a healthy distance.
If your cat is an outlier who can’t stay away, though, a cat proof bassinet canopy can give you some peace of mind. Look for one that has a dome structure so that it will not collapse, rip, or risk suffocation to your baby if the cat happens to jump on. You can buy bassinets that come with a specifically fitted cover, or you can purchase one aftermarket if you find that you need that extra layer of security. You can even make your own if you are crafty and handy.