If you’re introducing a new baby into a household with established pets, there are some strategies you can use so all humans and animals involved make a good first impression. Expectant parents often spend the months leading up to the birth of their child preparing their home to make it a comfortable, inviting, and functional space for a newborn. Ensuring your pets are prepared and learn positive behaviors for co-existing with a new baby can help ease the transition and take the stress off of you and your beloved animals.
Here are some tips to help you prepare your pets and introduce them to your newborn.
Before the Arrival
Image via Flickr by Erika Sievert Licensed CC BY 2.0
Before bringing your baby home, there are a few things you can do to prepare your pets for their arrival.
Make a Plan
One of the best things you can do in preparation for bringing home a new baby is to make an action plan for introducing your pets. Identify specific actions you can take to make your home environment as welcoming as possible for both baby and animal. Consider your current relationship with your pet and how they’re likely to react to a fresh addition to the family, and strategize by accounting for the needs of your pet, your baby, and yourself.
Implement a New Routine
Even before the baby arrives, start living out the patterns of your anticipated daily routine. Pets often take comfort from knowing your daily routine, so you can help ease the transition of change by making small modifications to your daily schedule that are likely to reflect your lifestyle once the baby arrives. Making these changes early gives your pet time to adapt.
Invest in Training
Consider whether your dog would benefit from obedience training before the arrival of your newborn. An excitable dog that likes to jump, run, or play may need to learn gentleness, listening skills, and when it’s appropriate to play rough away from the baby. For those living in the Mesa, Arizona, area, check out training programs like Lose the Leash Dog Training, Before-N-After Dog Training, or Doggie Steps Dog Training for your pet training needs.
Model the Environment
Another way to prepare your pets for the incoming change is to model the new environment. For example, practicing by carrying a baby-sized bundle can help desensitize your pet to seeing you carry the baby around. You can also practice walking your dog alongside a baby stroller to prepare them for a change in their walking routine. Pets may respond with curiosity to these changes, so engaging with them while rewarding positive behaviors like gentleness can help them understand your boundaries and expectations.
When the Baby Arrives
Once your baby is born, there are some things you can do to introduce them to your pet safely.
Acquaint Pets With Their Smell
Once the baby is born, try introducing your pets to their scent before allowing them to interact. For example, bring clothes or blankets with the baby’s scent on them home to share with your pet. Doing this allows the pet to become accustomed to the baby’s smell, which may ease some of their curiosity or caution when you bring the baby home.
Create a Positive Introductory Environment
Do your best to create a positive environment in which to introduce your pet and newborn. This means creating an environment that sets your pet up for success when meeting the baby. When your pet learns to associate positive rewards with the baby’s presence, it can reinforce good behaviors while minimizing negative associations. For example, give your pet treats when they approach the baby with gentleness and patience, and reward the pet when it responds obediently to your cues.
Avoid scolding or punishing your pet for negative behaviors around the baby because it may learn to associate the baby’s presence with negative feelings. Instead, if your pet performs negative behaviors, ignore it and consider taking the baby away until the pet has calmed down. Try to have patience and compassion for your pet. Learning a new routine and getting comfortable with a new addition to the family can take time, so be persistent and engaged with the process.
Take Safety Measures
Before allowing your pet into the same room as the baby, set up an environment that’s safe for all involved. For example, when introducing a dog to a baby, put the dog on a leash and make sure there are at least two people in the room. Have one person supervise the dog while the other handles the baby. Let the person managing the dog greet the animal and spend time with it until it’s calm and relaxed. Then, bring the baby into the room. As the animal interacts with the baby, identify positive behaviors and reward them.
For cat owners, newborns may startle cats, which can cause them to withdraw and hide. It may take time for your cat to acclimate to the new addition to their home environment. Give your cat the space it needs to withdraw comfortably. You might have a room in your house where the cat can go when it needs some peace and quiet. Make sure a startled cat still feels comfortable venturing out of hiding to access its food, water, and litter box.
Make Quality Time for Your Pet
Remember to make time for your pet. While newborns demand a lot of time and attention, taking time out of your day to remind your pet that it’s valued can help you maintain a positive and healthy relationship. New routines can be stressful for pets, so taking some quality time with your animals can be a great way to soothe their anxieties. For example, set aside a few minutes during the baby’s nap time to spend alone with your pet. Grooming, petting, and talking to them can make them feel loved and special despite the changes in their life.
These are just a few tips for introducing a new baby to your pets. It’s important to prioritize the health and safety of your baby and animals. Know your pet and do your best to keep up with its needs while it settles into its new routine. If you’re looking for exceptional care for your child, contact us or consider signing up for a program at Crème de la Crème of Mesa, Arizona.