Do you consider your pets to be members of your family? If so, you probably spend a lot of time with them; they help make your house a home. But things change when you have a little bundle of joy on the way, and you must find ways to introduce your new baby into your home and to your pets. Read below as our Crème de la Crème staff recommends a few methods you can use to make introducing your new baby to your pets easier in your Leawood home.

Train Your Pets Before Your Baby’s Homecoming

A child holding a dog wearing a red hat in Leawood, KS

Coco the North  by  Enoch Leung is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0

Gradually changing your pet’s routines is essential so they can adjust before you bring your baby home. These small changes may mean walking your dog at different times or changing your dog’s or cat’s feeding schedule. If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, consider allowing it to spend more time outside because you’ll have less time for it when your baby comes home from the hospital.

Take Advantage of Obedience Training

Your pet’s behavior must change if it has developed certain habits. For example, if your dog barks a lot or is used to jumping up on people, you’ll need to retrain it so it doesn’t continue those behaviors. Having a dog jump up on you is unsafe when you’ll soon be holding a baby in your arms. If your dog doesn’t respond to your attempts to train it, consider working with a local dog trainer, such as  Gentle Dog Training or  Newman’s Dog Training.

Similarly, if your cat jumps onto your lap, it’s a good idea to train it before your baby’s arrival. You can turn to Beyond the Dog trainers for expert cat training.

Set Up Baby Gates

Installing baby gates at your baby’s future nursery room entrance is important. A gate will ensure you can hear your baby and visually check on them while keeping your pets out of the area.

Use a Baby Doll With Your Pets Before Your Baby’s Birth

Buy a toy doll and use it to help your pets get used to the idea of a baby in the house. Carry it wrapped in a blanket, and let your pets see you with it. Reward them with treats for good behavior around the doll. You can also add verbal praise and petting. Continue these rewards when your baby comes home.

Get Your Pets Used to a Crying Baby

A crying baby can be troubling to pets, so getting them used to hearing it can be helpful. Try playing a recording of a baby’s cry. Give your pet treats, attention, verbal praise, and comfort as the recording plays. You can also introduce them to the babies and young children of family or friends when possible.

Start a New Dog Walking Routine

Walk your dog alongside a stroller so it can get used to the upcoming change in your routine. This stroller training can take time, so it’s best to start before you bring your little one home.

Reduce Time With Your Pet

Gradually decrease the time you spend with your pet. When caring for a newborn, you’ll have less time for your pets. Although it may be hard for both of you, spending less time with them before the baby’s arrival can make an easier adjustment.

Expose Your Pets to Your Baby’s Scent

After your baby’s birth, have a family member bring some clothing or a blanket that’s been in contact with the baby before you come home. Have your pets smell the items so they know your baby’s scent before their homecoming.

Introduce Your Pet to Your Baby for the First Time 

When you first bring your baby home, and it’s time for introductions, have three adults present to help you. One adult can hold the baby while the other two pay attention to the pet. Make sure your baby and the pet are calm before starting. If necessary, have your dog on a leash or your cat in a harness and on a leash. If you have more than one pet, introduce them to your baby individually. If your pets interact successfully with your baby, reward them with treats, reinforcing their good behavior and bringing positive associations with the baby’s presence.

Stay Alert After the First Introduction

After introducing your baby to your pets, remain vigilant as your baby and pets interact. Never leave your pets alone and unattended with your baby, even if you feel sure of your pet’s behavior, as it can still be unpredictable. Continually reinforce a positive pet and baby relationship. Spend time with them when your baby is active and give your pet treats and verbal praise. You must regularly spend time together because if you only pay attention to your pets when your baby is asleep, your pets will form negative associations with the baby’s presence.

Consider Potential Hazards to Your Baby and Pets

You must also consider your pet’s safety after your baby comes home. The new objects you use for your baby’s care can be hazardous to pets. Ensure items such as baby bottle nipples, diaper ointment, pacifiers, and small toys are where your pets can’t reach them, as they present swallowing hazards. And dispose of diapers securely in containers your pets can’t open.

And for your baby’s safety, you’ll need to keep some pet-related items away from them. Securely store pet medications, such as flea and tick preventives and heartworm treatments, where a baby can’t get into them. If you bathe your dog with a medicated shampoo, ensure it’s completely dry before allowing them to be near the baby. You should also keep dog toys and chew bones away from the baby.

If you use these tips, you’ll enjoy the new addition to your family and help your pets safely adjust to the new baby. Growing up with a pet is beautiful for children, and they often form special bonds throughout the years. The  Crème de la Crème of Leawood  team wishes you a harmonious homecoming.