Expectant parents spend months getting ready for the big day. There’s a lot to do, from setting up the nursery to installing safety devices around the house. When preparing for your new bundle of joy, don’t forget about your four-legged family members. Before you bring the baby home, use this guide to learn how you can introduce your infant and pets successfully.
Before the Big Day
The arrival of a new baby is a very exciting time for everyone in the family. It’s also a time of immense change. With a little planning, bringing home a new baby can be a pleasant experience for you and your pet. Make any changes to your pet’s lifestyle slowly, and start by considering any new rules you want to put in place before the big day. You may want to consider:
- Hiring a pet trainer to address any unwanted behaviors like jumping and barking.
- Choosing which areas of the home, if any, are pet-free zones, such as the baby’s room.
- Modifying your pet’s daily routine. Will it spend more time in the backyard, for example?
Implement the New Routine
“Mouse discovers the baby’s crib” licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr by moppet65535
Now that you have a good idea of what you want to change make these transitions gradually. Start enforcing the new house rules and give your pet plenty of time to adjust. Keep your focus on these two key areas:
It’s essential that your pets don’t jump on people, especially with a baby in your arms. Most dogs can learn basic commands like “sit” or “down” relatively easily, especially if you reward their good behavior with a treat.
Cats also can be taught not to jump on you uninvited. When your kitty tries to sit on your lap, put your hand up and say no and stand up quickly. Then sit back down and give your cat its normal “come here” signal, while tempting it with a treat. This habit will help your pet to learn to wait for an invitation.
Pets and children can co-exist quite harmoniously. However, there are still precautions that expecting parents can take to help safeguard your baby’s sleeping area. Cats especially enjoy lounging in places where they may not be welcome, like the crib, and you may have to use deterrents to keep them out of this area.
Some cats do not tolerate change well, so start teaching your pet which areas of the house are off-limits at least a month before the baby arrives. Allow your cat this time to investigate nursery furniture before you declare the space off-limits, then make surfaces, such as the changing table, unwelcoming, so pets learn to steer clear of these sites.
Mimic the Newborn
Your next step is to pave the way for positive associations with your new baby’s sounds and smells. Many pets will find crying noises especially difficult to adjust to. Introduce them to as many stimuli as you can before your doctor discharges your newborn. To achieve this, try:
- Carrying a doll and praising your pet for good behaviors when around the toy.
- Playing recorded baby noises, including crying, to acclimate your pet to these new sounds.
- Rubbing baby lotion on your hands before petting or playing with your dog or cat, so they associate this smell with good feelings.
- Bringing the empty baby stroller on your walks so they become comfortable with its presence.
When Baby Arrives
It’s important that your pet’s first introduction to the baby is a positive one. One way to get a jump on this next step is to bring some of the baby’s blankets and clothes home from the hospital. This way, you can allow your pet to become familiar with the baby’s smell before the introduction.
It’s Time To Meet
When you first arrive home, peacefully greet your pet in a quiet room without the hubbub of baby, grandparents, and other well-wishers. Once he’s calm, leash your dog. One adult will keep an eye on the pet, and another adult is responsible for keeping the baby safe. If you have more than one pet, introduce them individually. Allow your pet to gently sniff and investigate the new baby and reward it for good behavior.
Be cautious, however, as some pets may start to associate the baby’s presence with a lack of attention, confinement, or even punishment. The goal is to show your pet that good things happen around the baby, like treats, verbal praise, and petting.
Don’t be concerned if your feline goes into hiding. This is typical cat behavior, and it’s a good idea to have a quiet room for it to escape all the commotion. Other pets, like parrots, for example, may bite if pushed too quickly to make friends, so go slow and never leave pets and babies alone unsupervised.
Protecting Your Pet
While your focus should always be your child, your pet may need a bit of protection too. Some baby products can pose a danger to your animals. For example, dogs may swallow and choke on items like pacifiers and small toys. Likewise, medications like diaper rash ointment and teething gels can be toxic to pets. Even dirty diapers are hazardous to your four-legged friends.
Even if you do everything right, it’s difficult to predict how even a gentle family pet will do in this stressful situation. The unfamiliar presence of an infant may push your pet over the edge. You should be very concerned if your dog growls or the cat hisses at your child. Stop any negative interaction immediately. If your pet acts aggressively or becomes fixated on your infant, isolate it and contact your trainer or veterinarian.
So, there you have it. Crème de la Crème of Coppell, Texas, just shared this article filled with introduction tips for babies and pets. What do you think of our advice? How does your family ensure pets and kids get along? Let us know! Drop us a line, and we’ll be sure to add it to our guide.