Introducing Your Pet to Your Newborn
Nothing has the potential to turn your world upside down quite like a new baby! Those first few days and weeks with your new bundle of joy are filled with many emotions – from thrill and joy to overwhelm and exhaustion! But they are precious days where all you need to do is get to know your new baby. And that goes for the entire family, pets and all!
So, how do we make your baby’s transition into the family as smooth as possible when there are pets involved? Read on to discover our top three tips for introducing your new family member to your pet – hopefully, they help!
It makes sense to be as prepared as possible before your baby’s birth so that your pet can also get ready for the new arrival. Make sure your pet is up to date with any vaccinations or boosters they might need, and if you have any concerns over their health, book a vet’s appointment for a check-up. With that out of the way, other things that you can do to prepare include:
Installing nursery furniture and other larger baby items (such as the pram and other toys that make sounds, etc.) allows your pet to become accustomed to them. This can help with the transition, as these items will already be familiar when your baby arrives.
Establish rules over where your pets can sleep and play once the baby arrives. If being in the baby’s bedroom or sleeping in your room will be a no-no once the grand homecoming takes place, it’s better to get this rule going sooner rather than later.
Be aware of your pet’s sensitivity to noise. You can use apps to familiarise your pets with the sound of a baby’s cry, which might help to get them accustomed in advance! Cats, in particular, can be very sensitive to new and loud sounds, so a baby’s cry may have the potential to cause distress.
If you can get over feeling a little silly at first, this is a great way to get ready for those lovely pram walks! Some parents swear by taking their dog for a walk with the pram before the baby arrives. This helps them get used to walking beside the pram and allows you to establish expectations for the real thing.
Once the baby is born, you could always take home one of their blankets for your pets to sniff— this helps them become accustomed to their scent before they come home.
When you first bring your baby home, try to stay calm and talk to your pet firmly and quietly. Experts recommend greeting your pet first, without the baby, and keeping them separate for a few hours while your pet gets used to the baby being in the house. Your dog may want to jump up to greet the newest family member, so it might be good to reward them with treats for staying still and quiet.
Keep the first meetings short and sweet and reward them for sitting still and staying calm. When the time comes, keeping your dog on a lead and sitting is a good idea. Make sure you supervise meetings very closely and look for signs that your pet is unhappy or becoming overexcited.
Stick to the same routine as usual with your pets so that they continue to get the same attention as before the baby arrives. Try to keep everything as normal as possible.
Remember that your pet should never sleep with your baby; read more about safe sleep on the Lullaby Trust website.
After the early days
As your baby gets older and starts to crawl, you’ll need to baby-proof the house in more ways than you’d think:
Make sure that your cat’s litter box is out of reach and covered up – do this slowly and in small increments, as your cat is a creature of habit and will need lots of time to get used to a new position in the house!
Always store your pet’s food and toys out of reach.
Clean your pet’s toys and bedding regularly.
Avoid playing wild games with your dog while your baby is around – keep these activities for the park, or avoid them altogether.