For expectant parents, adding a newborn to the family is an enormous change, requiring much planning and preparation. Pet owners have even more to think about when it comes to integrating the family pet and new baby, and it’s only natural to be nervous about the transition.
Having a plan in place ahead of time can make all the difference when it comes to introducing a pet and new baby. Your team at Animal Medical and Surgical Center is here for you every step of the way as you and your pet walk this path, hand in paw!
Setting The Scene
It’s impossible to know how a pet will react to a new baby. Feelings of jealousy, insecurity, fear, or even indifference are all possible emotions your pet may experience as he or transitions from being the only “baby” in the family. Keeping your pet in mind as you plan and prepare for the arrival of a new baby will help them get used to the new way of life ahead of time, which may make it easier once baby is home.
Address any behavior issues before the baby is born. Consult your veterinarian or a professional trainer if necessary. Make sure your pet can follow basic commands, and train him or her to lie on the floor quietly or go to his or her bed when you ask.
A New Environment
Helping your pet gradually get used to the new sights, smells, and sounds of a new baby ahead of time can make it easier to accept the new addition once he or she arrives:
- Acclimate your pet to the unique sounds of a new baby in the months and weeks leading up to the birth by playing recordings of a baby crying, turning on the mechanical swing or other baby devices, rocking in the rocking chair, etc.
- Swaddle a baby doll in a blanket and mimic some of the daily activities you expect to engage in, such as diaper changes, feeding, and stroller walks with the dog.
- Invite friends with babies over to visit, be sure to strictly supervise all interactions between your pet and a baby.
- Allow your pet to inspect and investigate the nursery. If you’ve decided ahead of time that the nursery will be off-limits, make use of a baby gate or other barrier that will still allow your pet to see and smell what’s going on in the room.
- Implement any expected changes to your pet’s exercise or daily schedule before the baby comes home so your pet doesn’t associate the changes with the baby
- Make sure you have a plan for pet care during the time you will be at the hospital or birthing center.
Introducing A Pet And New Baby
The big day is here! It’s time to introduce your pet and new baby:
- Have someone bring home a blanket or article clothing the baby has worn for your pet to smell before you arrive
- When you walk in the door with baby for the first time, ask another adult to hold them so you can greet your pet warmly. Taking time each day to spend a few moments snuggling with and paying attention to your pet can go a long way toward reassuring a jealous dog or cat.
- Allow your pet to sniff the baby while he or she is controlled on a leash or otherwise carefully monitored. Proceed with all introductions at your own comfort level.
- As your child grows, teach him or her to respect your pet’s boundaries. Getting your child involved in age-appropriate pet care teaches responsibility and strengthens the bond between kid and pet.
Having questions and concerns about introducing a pet and new baby is natural, and we can help! Give us a call before baby is born to make sure your pet is up to date on his or her vaccines and parasite preventives, or to address any behavioral or other concerns you may have.