Most of us love to have a pet and when you have a baby, your pet can be their trusted guardian. But, it can be quite tricky to tell something that doesn’t understand your language about your baby’s arrival. Luckily, there are several ways to do this. And, the process depends on the type of pet you own, their personality, breed, and your pre-existing family dynamic. Also, it’s better to avoid diving in with no preparation. So, read on to know more about how to prepare your pets before bringing your baby home.
Have a Plan
Whether your furry friend is a dog, cat, or other animals, the first thing you should do is to create a plan. According to research, dogs can be very friendly, but they can also exhibit jealousy because they want their master’s attention. The same is true of cats. Felines can be temperamental and some struggle with change. Therefore, you might want to do this around the second trimester when you still have plenty of time. The ASPCA suggests enrolling your dog in basic obedience classes and relocating your cat’s litter box to a more private area. Also, you should set up nursery furniture as soon as possible, as this will give your pet several weeks to investigate the new surface or objects before you declare it off-limits.
Introduce your Pet to Common Baby Sounds and Smells
A newborn baby can be quite noisy. After all, the only way they can convey discomfort, hunger, or exhaustion is by crying. But, the added commotion can be overwhelming to animals. Therefore, dogs and cats can become distressed, frustrated, and agitated. To avoid this, we recommend introducing common sounds and smells to your pet by using recordings of baby sounds in combination with treats to help your animals create associations. So, instead of becoming scared or upset by the noise, your pet will welcome it.
One of the most popular and well-known ways to introduce your pet to your newborn is to bring home your little one’s receiving blanket or first outfit. Doing so will help your pet become familiar with the infant’s scent before their first introduction.
Shift Routines and Pet Care Responsibilities
Things will change when your little angel arrives, for the whole family. The duration of daily walks or playtime might be reduced, and probably your pet feeding time will also be impacted. So, you may want to relegate these duties to a loved one, friends, or begin altering your daily routine. Hiring a dog sitter or walker to alleviate some of the burdens on you is not a bad idea.
We suggest making gradual changes to schedules or caregivers before the new baby so that your pet won’t associate the changes. You can experiment with bringing the empty stroller with you on walks so that your dog can get used to the new system in advance. This will allow you to work through challenges without the stress of a newborn baby in the mix.
Establish New Rules
Putting boundaries in place is the key. If not, your pet may come to resent your new bundle of joy. It is also easier to enforce these rules in advance when you are not living in an emotional or sleep deprivation.
If you don’t want your pet on the furniture or the bed after the baby arrives, introduce that restriction now. Or, if you don’t want your dog to jump up on you when you’re carrying your new baby on your lap, start teaching your pet to only do that when you allow them. The same goes for sleeping arrangements.
Introduce slowly on Your Pet’s Terms
So, you’ve done the prep work, you feel like you’re ready, but what about when you actually bring your brand new baby home for the first time? Once you and your baby are back home, you’ll want to officially introduce your pet to the newest member of the family right away. However, we recommend you to wait at least a few minutes for the final preparation.
When you first arrive home from the hospital, greet your cat or dog in the same manner you always do. This will calm their nerves and keep your dogs from pouncings. Once you’ve had your quiet reunion, you can welcome in everyone. That said, this meeting should still be executed slowly, with both caution and care. Make sure your newborn is in your arms all times during the process to keep them safe from any sudden situation. Have another family member handle your pet. Also, remember to respect your pet’s boundaries. And, if your pet appears irritated or anxious, give them space. Then try again after a few days.
Supervise all Interactions
You should never leave your infant unattended with a pet, regardless of their temperament. So, supervise every interaction. Intervene when necessary, and give your pet space. Forced meetings can be detrimental and can result in scratches and bites. If you can, we suggest keeping your dog on a leash, at least for a couple of days, when first getting familiar with the new baby. This may seem like a bit too much, but it’s necessary.
Caring both of your newborn baby and pets at the same time can be overwhelming, at least in the early days. But, with a little preparation and a lot of patience, you’ll find that everything will work out perfectly. If you have any questions or stories to share, let us know in the comments!