Are you worried about how your pet is going to react to your new baby? Your dog or cat may become confused when you bring home a new family member without their permission. This will be especially hard on your pets if they were the center of all your attention before the baby came along. Here are some helpful hints to make that transition time for when you bring your newborn home go a little smoother for all involved.
Give Your Pet Attention
Dogs and cats can experience jealousy much in the same way that humans do. If they felt that they were the center of your world, they may feel that they’ve been replaced. Your attention will now be mostly on your baby, so they may feel left out. Make sure to make time to give your pet some one on one attention. Take him or her for a daily walk, give lots of pets and attention if even for a short time each day.
Make Gradual Changes
Before your baby comes, home is the time to make those necessary gradual changes. For example, if your dog slept with you in your bed but you plan on co-sleeping with your baby, now is the time to adjust your dog to the new sleeping arrangements. Think of getting your dog a new dog bed next to yours. Make it a special time, and lay down with your dog to show him or her how cozy their new bed is. It may be difficult, but it’s going to be harder if you wait to make all the changes when your baby comes home. By doing it before your newborn comes home, this will help with resentment and jealousy issues.
Greet Your Pet
When the big day comes, have your spouse, or you hold the baby while one of you goes to meet your pet. That one on one time is going to be very important. Your dog or cat’s whole world is about to change. Make your pet feel just as loved and special by taking the time to say hi. Chances are they’ve missed you while you were away if you had a hospital birth.
Take the time to introduce your pet to your baby. While you hold your child, let then sniff the little one and try to figure out who this stranger is. They will take some time to realize that the baby is a part of the family now, so show them. You’ll know what language to use. I say “It’s ok” in a soft voice when introducing my dog to something that I want them to know is accepted. Dogs are experts on picking up on our feelings so how you act is going to help or hurt the new relationship that started forming the moment you brought your baby in the door. The worst thing you can do is yell at your pet and say “get back” or “no,” especially if they are just curious.
Give Your Pet and Your Baby Their Space
It might take several weeks or months before you are comfortable and trust your pet enough that you leave them alone with your baby. You can manage their space by using secure baby gates or putting your pet in a different room while the baby naps if you are napping too or getting chores down. You will know your pet, so don’t take any chances if you are feeling unsure. Most dogs and cats will in time, come to love and want to protect their new family member. But until that time comes you still want to be extra cautious.
Watch that Your Baby Doesn’t Grab Your Pet
As your baby gains fine and gross motor skills, you may be finding that your concern is now switching to not letting your baby grab your dog or cat. Those little grippy hands are getting stronger every day. Fur is easy to grab. As your baby is growing, he or she has learned how to reach out for toys and stuffed animals. Your pet may look no different to your baby than a fun stuffed animal that moves. It will be important to teach your child early on how to touch the dog gently, and not grab and pull its fur. Also, watch that your baby doesn’t catch your dog’s eyes and nose.
The time you put into helping your pet accept your new baby now should reap great rewards down the road. Chances are that your dog/cat and baby will develop their own special relationship built on love and trust. Though it might take more time, don’t give up on them spending time together.
For surviving your first week of motherhood, check out our article here.