When you’re expecting a new baby in your home, you want to make sure to include your pets in the process. Pets are family members with feelings and sensitivities, and you want them to feel secure and comfortable before and after your newborn arrives. Here are a few tips our team at Crème de la Crème of Maple Grove, Minnesota, put together to help you with this important transition in your pet’s life.

Before the Baby Arrives

A small child with a puppy in a field in Maple Grove, MN

Kids and Dog_3-18-12-2633 by Rob Bixby is licensed with CC BY 2.0

Just as you’re setting up the nursery and your home for your newborn, it’s also important to prepare your pet to meet the new baby. Following these strategies can help make introducing a new baby to your pet smooth and easy.

Incorporate Obedience Training

Having a well-trained dog is essential, especially with children in the household. Taking them to a local dog trainer will help ensure they understand commands such as “stay,” “come,” “sit,” and “down.” If you have a rambunctious pup, you’ll need to have voice control over the dog so they don’t try to get onto your lap while you’re holding the baby. Contact any of these Maple Grove area pet trainers to have them help you train your dog:

If you have house cats that normally jump on your lap for snuggles and cuddles, you’ll need to discourage this behavior as the cat may become startled and accidentally scratch the baby when you’re holding the newborn. Start by gently placing the cat on the floor after it jumps on your lap and giving it a treat to reinforce positive behavior. Make sure you find time to pet and cuddle with your cat when you’re not holding your newborn. You can also use clicker training, specially designed for cat training.

Update Your Pet’s Vaccinations

Once you bring your new baby home, you might have limited time to tend to your pet’s needs. Take your pets to the vet for a check-up and any vaccinations they’ll need before your baby is born. If you don’t already have a veterinarian, you can contact these local vets or clinics:

Create Off-Limit Areas in Your Home

Many families consider their pets as part of the family and give them a free run of the house. You may not want the pets to go into the nursery or sleep on the bed with the baby, so it’s important to establish off-limit areas before you bring your newborn home.

Pretend You Have a Newborn

Pets that are used to having your undivided attention may feel left out and jealous of you spending time with your newborn. You can help your pet adjust to the arrival of your child by mimicking having a newborn. Start by carrying a doll wrapped in a blanket and talk and coo to the doll.

You can also put the doll in a stroller and walk the dog alongside it, so they become familiar with that routine. Be sure to give your dog treats and love as a reward for walking calmly next to the stroller and for allowing you time with your pretend baby without getting jealous.

Have Your Pet Meet Other Babies

If you don’t have other children in the house and your pet is unaccustomed to baby sounds and smells, ask your friends that have children if you can introduce your pet to their baby. You can also bring your pet to a local playground or park where kids are running, playing, and laughing so your pet can become familiar with these sounds.

After the Baby Is Born

Once you’ve given birth to your newborn, you can take steps to help make your pet and yourself more comfortable before bringing the baby home, including:

Let Your Pet Smell the Newborn’s Clothes

Animals use their sense of smell for familiarity. Have your newborn sleep in an outfit and, without washing it, have someone in the family bring it home and let the pet smell it. Once you step inside your home with the baby, your pet will already be familiar with the newborn’s scent.

Consider Hiring a Pet Sitter

The first few days of having a newborn at home may feel overwhelming, and your pets may feel excited to meet their new family member. Hiring a pet sitter or taking them to a high-quality boarding center for a few days can give you time to adjust to your new routine with the baby. Here’s a list of pet sitters in the Maple Grove area.

Keep Baby Items Away From the Pets

Pets that are used to having toys may become guarded of them if your baby tries to take them. In addition, your pet may view any of the baby’s toys as their property and take it from the baby. Not only is this behavior disruptive to the baby and the pet, but the pet may snap at the baby, or the child may slap at the animal.

Introduce Your Pet to the Baby on Neutral Ground

Dogs that are territorial feel protective of their home and may view the new baby as an intruder. When the time comes to introduce your new baby to your pet, consider having them meet on neutral ground, like in the park or the driveway.

Supervise Pet and Baby Time

It’s important to never leave your pet and baby alone when you first bring the child home. Spend time with both of them and teach your child to be gentle with your pet.

Use these helpful tips shared by Crème de la Crème of Maple Grove to help make the transition of introducing a new baby to your pet stress-free. The more comfortable your pet is with your new baby, the happier and more balanced they’ll be.