Having a newborn around is a big change, and it comes with a whole new set of rules that will affect not only your family — but your fur babies, too! Preparing pets for a baby’s arrival is important while you are expecting.
Careful planning ahead of time can make it easier on pets when you finally bring your baby home, and also help them accept the new family member with, if not enthusiasm, at least peaceful resignation.
Preparing Your Home (with Pets) for Baby
Most new parents wonder, “Are babies allergic to pets?” The answer is, some are.
But a recent 18-year study showed that exposure to pets — both dogs and cats — in the first year of life meant children were less likely to develop animal allergies later.
Even so, pet dander and babies don’t always mix.
Dander is often the cause of pet allergies, although pet urine and feces can cause reactions also.
To keep the amount of dander to a minimum:
- Bathe pets often
- Use an air purifier
- Keep your home clean and dust-free
Preparing Pets for a Baby
There are some easy ways you can get your pets ready for the new addition to the family. Doing this ahead of time will make the transition easier for your pet when the baby finally arrives.
1. Make Noise
Babies aren’t quiet, and if Fido is used to a quiet home, he’s going to be in for surprise once the baby comes. Start making a racket now, and even play recordings of crying babies to get him used to the sound.
If your pets are gentle, you could consider introducing them to friends’ babies and small children, but always provide supervision — for both the children’s and your pet’s sakes.
2. Make a Stink
Dogs and cats have sensitive noses. Get them used to the scent of baby lotions, creams, and other baby products that you’ll be using once baby arrives.
Not only will this help normalize the scents, but if you wear some of the lotions and creams on your own skin, it may help your pet to recognize their new family member as one of their “own.”
3. Ignore Them
Hard as it might be, the time to start ignoring your fur babies is before the new arrival.
That way, they won’t associate the lack of attention that is bound to happen with a new little one, with baby’s arrival.
You don’t have to ignore them all the time!
But every once in a while, when they’re looking for attention, let them wait for a few minutes before praising them.
When baby arrives, praise them when they’re in proximity to the baby. That way, they’ll associate the baby with positive emotions.
4. Train Them Now
If your pets have any bad habits, make sure you get help — and training — for those now.
The following are all behaviors that should be addressed before the baby arrives:
- Jumping up
5. Bring on the New Rules
You may have some new rules you’d like your pet to follow once the baby is here. These may include:
- staying off the furniture,
- not licking faces or hands,
- staying away from the dinner table,
- and more.
If you’re concerned about dog germs and newborns, keeping your pet off the furniture and curtailing licking behaviors is important.
Re-training your pet to follow new rules is much easier before a new baby brings an added layer of stress into your animal’s life.
6. Get a Book
There are several “preparing dog for baby” books out there that can help you develop a detailed plan of action. Some of the most popular books include:
Many of these offer training tips and ways to encourage your dog to be a good companion — not just to your baby, but to the whole family.
Introducing Pets to Baby
Baby is home and you’re hoping Fido and Baby will be besties right away. However, easing him into the relationship is a better — and safer — way to go.
Let your pet get used to the sights and sounds of the baby before bringing them up close and personal. After a few days, you can leash him to let him see the baby a little bit closer.
If he doesn’t exhibit signs of jealousy, then you can let him off the leash, with supervision. Be sure to give him lots of attention and praise when the baby is around! This will help him to associate the baby with praise.
If your pet is obsessed with the new baby, you need to watch carefully. While most of the time, this obsession is a good thing, an animal that is overly-obsessed can start to exhibit guarding behavior, snapping and barking at everyone that comes close.
You’ll also need to see how your baby is responding — if your baby is feeling stressed by your pet’s attention, you need to get Fido to tone it down.
Signs Your Dog is Jealous of Baby
Dogs can exhibit signs of jealousy over new family members so it’s important to watchdog behavior with a new baby closely.
Jealous behavior includes:
- Urinating/defecating indoors
- Paying extra attention to you
- Leaving the room
- Doing a trick
- Barking or growling
- Crowding your space
If your dog exhibits any of these, you should be extra cautious in allowing them time with the baby and also take them to training to modify these behaviors.
Signs Your Cat is Jealous of Baby
Are cats good with babies? Just like any animal, each cat has its own personality. Some are great with kids — others, not so much.
Signs of jealousy in cats can include:
- Hissing, spitting, or batting
- Spraying urine on baby’s crib or toys
- Not eating
For best results when introducing a new baby to a household with cats, follow the preparation guidelines in this article. They work for dogs and cats!
One Great, Big, Happy Family
Preparing pets for a baby can be a great dress rehearsal for the big event.
The experience of training your pets to accept your new bundle of joy can even result in a happier, more well-trained pet and a calmer household once the baby arrives.
Most of all, taking care of planning for the big day when your fur baby and new arrival meet can relieve stress for you and your pet and ensure that your new family can live happily ever after.
What kind of pet do you have at home? Have you started preparing your pet for baby’s arrival?
Share with us in the comments below!