Look Spot…A Baby! Getting Your Pets Ready For A Baby

Missy Flieg
3140 days ago.

As my due date approaches, my mommy instincts are in full swing. (I’m officially 6 months prego & having a little boy – yeah!) Being a first time mom, I already worry about EVERYTHING, but one of the biggest concerns I have is, “how are my animals going to do with my new little man?” If you haven’t read my profile, I have 3 dogs & a cat. Throw in a newborn & I’m officially stressed to the max. We’ve had the occasional comments from the peanut gallery like “you know you have to get rid of those dogs, right?” or “you better watch your cat around the baby, she’ll suffocate him.” This only adds to an already stressful time in my life – being pregnant.

Instead of panicking (ok maybe I panicked a little at first), I decided to do my due diligence & began researching articles on preparing pets for a newborn. Most of you are probably not in my current situation, but for those of you that are, I encourage you to read on. There is so much advice out there, so from one new mommy to another (or daddy), here is what you need to know to prepare your pets for meeting your new  baby:

Cat high-fiving human -- Getting your pets ready for a baby
Credit: Jonas Vincent

Before the baby arrives:

  1. Start with the basics & start early. Ensuring your dog has the proper obedience training will go a long way in preventing future issues. Basics such as “sit”, “stay”, and “down” will teach the dog to pay attention to you as a leader. Be serious about your training, but also be consistent. Teach your dogs that you are the pack leader using kind, positive methods. This way, they will be less likely to challenge the baby since it belongs to the leader.
  2. Introduce your pets to baby sights, smells & sounds before the baby arrives. Set up your nursery early, so that your pets don’t associate so many sudden changes with the arrival of the baby. If you plan to use an automatic swing, have that set up and going for hours in order to desensitize your pets to the movement. Engage in baby care activities (feeding, diapering, etc.) in front of your pets using a baby doll. Use baby lotions, diapers, blankets etc. on the baby doll to get your dog used to unique baby smells. Let them sniff the doll only if they are calm & under control. Reward your pets with gentle words & touches or treats so they form a positive association with the doll, and eventually the actual baby.
  3. Get your pet used to less attention each day, but don’t completely ignore them. Try not to give any extra attention to your pets leading up to your delivery. This will only cause a bigger let down when the baby comes. Anticipate any changes to your dog’s daily routine & start making those changes now.
  4. When the baby arrives, your dog’s privileges may change so institute any new rules now. They will be more likely to accept these restrictions if you implement them in advance.

After the baby is born:

  1. If dad or a family member is going back and forth from the hospital & home, have them bring a blanket with the baby’s scent on it for the dogs to sniff. This way, when the baby actually arrives, your pets will already be familiar with his/her smell.
  2. When coming home from the hospital, greet your pets separately. Be sure to stay calm & positive – don’t panic or yell at your dogs. You don’t want your pets associating the baby with feelings of anxiousness or alarm. As soon as you’re ready, introduce your dogs to the new baby. Slowly and over a period of time, allow your pets to get a closer look at your little one.
  3. Remember not to exclude them. It is crucial that you include your dogs in “baby time.” Isolating or excluding your dogs is not only unkind, but will only result in undesirable behavior. You’ll want to make sure that your pets associate “baby time” with “good time.” But also have a special pets-only place where they can retreat when in need of a break from all the hustle & bustle of a newborn.

More tips:

  1. Take your pets to the vet. Ensure that they are healthy & parasite-free before the baby arrives.
  2. Remember, dogs need time to adjust to changes in the household. Preparing early & gradually will give them more time to acclimate to their new environment.
  3. Stay calm. Dogs & cats can sense our feelings. Do your best to shield your pets from your stress. You want your pets to perceive this change as peaceful & pleasant as possible.
  4. Remember it won’t be the end of the world if your pet wakes your son up from a nap on occasion and your child will probably eat dog food at least once in his/her lifetime and that won’t be the end of the world either.
  5. If needed, hire a professional to work with you & your pets.

Remember that you’ve made a commitment to your pet. Rather than getting rid of your pet because you are unprepared, take the time to prepare yourself and your pet  in advance to make the transition easier once baby has arrived.

Are you still struggling with whether to give up your pet or not when the baby arrives? Here’s one reason why you shouldn’t give up your pet.

There unfortunately may come a situation where you are forced to give up your furry friend as a last resort. Please make sure they go to a good home if you must get rid of them.

Dog and Baby -- Getting your pets ready for a baby
Credit: Aaron Silvers

You can find more tips for getting your pets ready for a new baby in the house from the US Humane Society.

Do you have more tips to share? What has worked or hasn’t worked for you?

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Missy Flieg

Missy, a middle child, so naturally a master negotiator, is super organized, bordering on OCD, obsessed with People Stylewatch which feeds her addiction to jeans & shoes, and a huge animal lover. She has 3 dogs and 1 cat...and is no longer allowed to visit the pet store on Saturdays. What people remember most about her is that she talks way too much & way too fast. But in her defense, she is known to be a superb listener.

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