How to prepare your pet for your baby’s arrival
It is not just you who needs to adjust your life to your newborn’s arrival – your pet needs to be prepared for the new arrival too! Here are some tips on how to prepare your current “baby” for the new baby in the house.
You might be nine weeks along or you might be 21 weeks along, either way – you’re expecting. Congratulations!
We understand that you are incredibly tired and busy with all the preparations for the arrival of the brand new baby but what you must not forget is that this is not just a big deal for you! Just because you’re getting a brand new baby, that does not give you license to abandon or ignore your current “baby”- your pet.
How will my pet react?
No matter how much you plan ahead, the addition of a new family member will be difficult for your pet. Remember, your pet was your first “baby” and it is used to being the centre of your world.
So it is understandable that it may experience something akin to sibling rivalry when you introduce the newborn into your home. You can minimize this feeling by working with it before bringing home the baby.
For example, because your new baby will demand a lot of your time and energy, gradually accustom your pet to spending less time with you.
Drastically decreasing attention and frequently scolding, ignoring, or isolating your pet after the baby come home will likely make your pet feel stressed. That way, the pet can still feel loved and provided for while you are busy with the baby.
Preparing a safe haven for your pet
Set up a special spot for your pet and let it get used to spending time there. It is important to pick a place where the precious one won’t be disturbed from all the noise and commotion – yes, your perfect child wail annoyingly from time to time, if not all the time. That way, when your pet is sent away to that spot after the baby’s arrival – it will be a form of punishment but comfort.
One of the best things you can do is to get your pet acquainted with the rough handling that your new baby and eventual toddler will definitely dole out to it. Your pet needs to get comfortable being touched in places where small hands can go, like between paw pads, on the face, tail, and underside of the body, and in the ears and mouth.
Therefore start by gently touching your dog or cat in these spots. If your pet resist and they probably will, then consider bribing them along with treats whenever you proceed with this exercise.
Getting to know you
As you prepare your home for your newborn — setting up the crib and stocking up on baby powder, lotion, and diapers — allow your pet to see and smell these so it will get used to their presence. Sprinkle baby powder or baby oil on your skin as well so your pet will become familiar with that smell too. A dog for example has 220 million scent receptors, while humans just have 5 million.
You can also help your pet adjust to the new sounds that will fill up the house by playing infant noises through YouTube videos. If your pet has had little or no contact with kids, let it meet other kids such as nieces and nephews or your friends’ kids as well. Kids, babies especially with their loud crying and crazy hours will appear as strange, small creatures to animals.
They are loud and fast, erratic and unpredictable — characteristics that can startle or frighten a cat or dog.This could mean danger for your baby as your pet might consider the baby as a threat and thus harm him or her.
It is a good idea to use a baby doll to help your pet get used to the real thing. Carry around a swaddled baby doll, take the doll in the stroller when you walk your dog (if you have a dog that is), and use the doll to get your pet used to routine baby activities, such as bathing and diaper changing.
Don’t allow your pet to climb onto baby’s furniture or blankets. Cats, especially, like curling up in the crib or bassinet. If your cat does this, remove her and keep the door to the nursery closed from now on.
It will be very confusing for your pet at first…but they will get used to it.
Once the baby is here
Welcoming a new baby is exciting for your family. But before you bring your baby home from the hospital, have your husband take home something with the baby’s scent such as the blanket for your pet to investigate and get used to the newborn’s smell.
When you return from the hospital, your pet will be eager to greet you and receive your attention. Have someone else take the baby into another room while you give your pet a proper welcome. Keep some treats handy so you can distract your pet.
After the initial greeting, you can bring your pet with you to sit next to the baby; reward your pet with treats for appropriate behaviour. Remember, you want your pet to view associating with the baby as a positive experience.
To prevent anxiety or injury, never force your pet to get near the baby, and always supervise any interaction.
Life will no doubt be hectic caring for your new baby, but try to maintain regular routines as much as possible to help your pet adjust. With proper training, supervision, and adjustments, you, your new baby, and your pet should be able to live together safely and happily as one (now larger) family.