Cats and dogs are more than just pets; they’re family members. When you’re expecting a baby, you’ll need to prepare your pet for your new arrival. There are tips you can use to make introducing your baby into your household easier for your pets. Our Crème de la Crème team has put together a guide to ensure a smooth transition when you bring your baby home to meet your pets and integrate with your family.

Start Obedience Training Before Bringing Your Baby Home

A man training his black lab to sit while outside in the grass

Focus on your pet’s behaviors that you’ll need to adjust, such as boisterous jumping or excessive barking for dogs. If your dog isn’t already trained, teaching them basic commands such as “sit,” “down,” or “stay” is very important so that they won’t jump up once your baby is home. This precaution is necessary, as you’ll often hold your baby on your lap or in your arms. If your dog is resistant to training, consider hiring a dog trainer, such as Dog Training NowPhil’s Pup Camp, or Tailchasers Pet Care, to ensure that you can control your dog’s behavior when your baby comes home from the hospital.

If you have a cat used to jumping up on your lap, it’s vital to discourage them from doing so before you bring your baby home. To train your cat to stop, gently place them on the floor if they jump up. You can use a treat as an invitation to signal when they’re permitted to jump into your lap and reward them with another treat for following this new pattern of behavior. You can also establish and reinforce your cat’s behavior by using clicker training.

Training Your Pet in Advance of Your Baby’s Arrival

Training your pets before your baby’s arrival can make the transition smoother when your baby arrives home. Introduce your pets to new routines, such as different walk times for your dog or, if you have an indoor/outdoor cat, possibly having them spend more time outside when you become busy with your baby. Several things can change for your pets; the more changes you can introduce before your baby comes home, the better. You’re sure to have your hands full with your baby then, so it’s best to prepare your pets for changes in routine beforehand.

Establishing Off-Limits Areas for Your Pets

Restrict access to your baby’s sleeping and changing areas. Once you bring your baby home, you’ll need to use a screen or baby gate in the doorway to the nursery. A gate ensures that you’ll hear your baby if they cry, but it also keeps your pets out.

How To Prepare Your Pets for Your Newborn Baby

Once you’re caring for a newborn, you’ll need to reduce the time you spend with your pets. To make this change less sudden for your pets, you can decrease your time together gradually to make the transition easier. Before your baby arrives, get a baby doll and carry it around bundled in a blanket. To establish a positive association with the doll, reward your pet for good behavior in the doll’s presence by giving them treats, verbal praise, and pets. Later, you’ll continue this system of rewards for good behavior in your baby’s presence.

Introducing Your Baby to Your Pets for the First Time

When it’s time for the first introduction of your baby to your pets, it’s necessary to have a group of adults ready to help. Two adults should be responsible for the animals, while one adult should hold the baby. Choose a time when both your baby and pets are in a calm state. You may need to have a leash on your dog in case you need to pull them away from the baby. If your cat’s behavior is unpredictable, you should have them wear a harness attached to a leash.

If you have multiple pets, present your animals to your new baby individually. The adults in charge of the pets should watch while another adult holds the baby while seated. If the introduction is a success and your pets are well-behaved, you can reinforce their good behavior with treats as a reward, creating a positive memory for the baby.

Staying Vigilant When Your Baby and Pet Interact

After the introduction, you must remain attentive when your pets and baby spend time together. Animal behavior can be unpredictable even if you’ve trained them, so don’t leave your pets and baby unattended.

Continue to nurture the relationship between your pets and baby by spending time together when your baby is up and active. Paying attention to your pet only when your baby is asleep sends the wrong message that your baby’s presence means you need to ignore your pet. They need to know that they don’t have to compete with the baby for your affection. As you spend time together, reward your pet for good behavior by giving them some treats and verbally praising them.

Keeping Both Your Baby and Pets Safe

While your utmost concern will undoubtedly be your baby’s safety, there are potential hazards to your pets to watch out for. Keep your pets away from small items that belong to your baby, such as pacifiers or baby bottle nipples. These are swallowing hazards for your pets. Dogs can get into dirty diapers, so ensure your diaper disposal is secure and impossible for the dogs to open. Diaper ointment is also hazardous to pets, so store it securely.

To protect your baby, carefully stow away all pet medicines, chew bones, and dog toys. Also, keep your baby away from a dog washed with medicated shampoo.

Visit Crème de la Crème Today

Our Crème de la Crème of South Barrington team trusts that these tips will be helpful when it’s time to introduce your new baby to your pets. While this process involves some work and vigilance, it’s sure to make the addition of your baby to your family a safe and smooth process. Soon your little one and your fur baby will become the best of friends. Your child will have a companion to make beautiful memories with as they grow. For more information, or to check out our facilities, contact our team today at 847-457-0109.

IMG_2343 by CRYSTAL ROLFE is licensed with CC BY 2.0