by Patricia Hughes
In some homes, the baby is not the first baby. A beloved cat or dog may have held that title for years. You may be worried about how your first baby will react to the arrival of your human one. There are things you can do before and after the baby arrives to make the transition easier for everyone.
Before the Baby is Born
The time to start preparing your pet for the new baby is while you are still pregnant. This is especially important for pets that are not used to children or older animals. Think about your pet’s routine. What will change? Will the baby be sleeping in your room and the dog banished to the family room? If so consider making the change now, so your pet won’t associate the two events. Block your pet from any rooms that will be off limits after your baby is born, including the baby’s room.
If your pet isn’t used to children, now may be a good time to start socializing him. Take the dog for walks near schools or in the park. Always keep him on a leash. This can be more difficult for cats. Invite friends or family members with children over during your pregnancy to get your pet used to kids in the house. You can also touch your dog like a child would to get him used to the way babies pet animals.
Is your pet easily startled by motion or noise? If so, he may be bothered by some of the baby gear. You can help him adjust by running some of it during the pregnancy. Turn on the baby monitor and let him hear the sounds of conversation through the monitor. Run the swing and turn on the bouncy chair every day to help your pet get used to the motion and sounds.
When the Baby Arrives
While you are still in the hospital, you can send something home that the baby has worn. This could be a blanket or a cap. It will contain the scent of the baby. your partner can let the animal sniff the blanket to get the baby’s scent. When the baby arrives home, the scent won’t be completely new.
When you get home from the hospital, your pet will be happy to see you. Try to remember that your pet missed you and is excited to see you. Let someone else hold the baby for a few minutes while you sit with your pet and show him some attention. Then you can take the baby and let the animal see you holding the baby. never leave the baby alone with the pet. A curious dog can accidentally hurt the baby.
When the Two Really Meet
The cute introduction when you arrive home from the hospital is fun. Your pet will sniff the baby and watch it. This isn’t really the first meeting, since the baby isn’t involved. Later, when your baby notices the pet is when the fun begins. I have always found it amusing with my babies. They live in the house together for months and then one day the baby really sees the pet.
Once the baby has discovered your pet, everything will change. Your pet will have had the benefit of watching and smelling the baby for many months. He may be surprised when the baby comes scooting across the floor in his direction. Always give your pet a means of escape and don’t let baby get him in a corner. When the baby pets your cat or dog, be sure you are sitting with them. show the baby how to touch the dog gently and don’t allow her to pull the fur, ears or tail. Gradually your baby will learn how to interact with the pet and they will form their own bond.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.