Having a baby is a big, life changing experience not only for you, but for your pets as well. If you are like most pet owners, your pets have been your “babies” up until this point. They are used to having all your attention whenever they wanted and haven’t had to share it with anyone. What happens though, when it’s time to introduce a baby of your own making into the family?
First, let’s look at what you should be doing while you are still pregnant or even if you are still trying to conceive. It’s never too early to get your pet ready for this big adjustment. There are some steps you can take to make the pregnancy and impending arrival go smoothly for the both of you.
Pet and Baby Do’s and Dont’s
- If you have a cat, have your partner change the cat litter box. Cat feces can carry a dangerous parasite known as toxoplasmosis. You should also be careful gardening or playing in sandboxes where you know cats might have used as a toilet
- Have your partner walk the dog instead. While you are pregnant, your balance is already a little bit wobbly. You really don’t want to be knocked off balance as your dog runs off after that squirrel!
- Make sure your pets vaccinations and checkups are all up to date
- Have their nails clipped or filed
- If your pet has never been around a baby before, now is the time get him used to all those new baby sounds and smells. Let him hear some baby cries on the TV or have him smell new things like baby powder. This way, nothing will be seem new or strange when the time comes
- Address any bad behaviors your pet might be exhibiting (chewing, nipping, clawing, etc). If you need to, enroll your pet in some training classes to get his manners in check. If you have a dog that barks excessively, you should probably address this behavior. There is not much worse than finally getting your baby to sleep and having the dog bark and wake him/her back up
- Familiarize your pet with children. If you have a dog, take him to the park and have him watch and listen…have him get used to all the commotion going on. If you have a cat or other small pet, see if a friend with an older baby/child can bring them over for some supervised “getting to know you” time
- Have your pet get used to things that a baby might do…things such as pulling their tail, playing with their feet, stealing their food. You will be able to see what reactions and problems you might need to correct ahead of time.
- Get your pet used to having a little less attention by gradually decreasing the amount of time you spend with them. This doesn’t mean you have to start ignoring your pet all the time, but just give them time to “entertain” themselves
Getting Your Pet Used To Baby
After you have had the baby, there are some other steps you can do to help transition your pet into his new family role
- Let your pet smell a blanket or piece of clothing the baby has used before coming home from the hospital
- Have somebody else hold the baby when you first greet your pet and give them some attention before introducing the baby
- Make sure you have somebody else helping you when you do the first introductions in case you need to remove the pet from the situation
- Keep the first introduction short and sweet. If your pet seems anxious, don’t force it to spend too much time with the baby. Gradually build up the length of time once your pet gets accustomed to everything
Most pets will get used to a new baby very quickly and will adjust very easily. Others may take a little while accepting the fact that they have a new member of the family. Just remember…they were used to being the baby of the family and now they have to share their time with this strange new creature. It’s pretty much just another form of sibling rivalry at work!