Preparing Pets for a New Baby

PetsNewbornsMany couples have “fur babies” before they decide to have children. Pets are part of a family too, and bringing home a baby can pose unique challenges. Here are some ways to prepare your pet for the new family addition:

Before baby arrives, take your pet to the veterinarian to make sure they are healthy and up-to-date on any vaccinations. Discuss spaying or neutering your pet, since animals are often calmer and less likely to bite if neutered.

Start a regular grooming routine, including nail trimming. Look into special shampoos or brushes that help decrease shedding and dander.

Give your pet time to get used to sounds and smells before baby arrives. Turn on the baby swing or use a little baby oil on your hand. Allow your pet to adjust to these so the baby’s arrival won’t be sensory overload.

Install any gates or barriers in advance. You don’t want to have a newborn home and then learn that a baby gate is not sturdy or tall enough to prevent your dog from entering the nursery.

Research training courses in your area. You will want to address any existing behavioral issues, and work on training your pet not to jump on furniture, to not jump when someone is holding the baby, etc;

Have your partner or a friend bring home a blanket with the baby’s scent before you bring the baby home from the hospital. This is a sort of “first introduction” of your baby to your pet.

Schedule time to pay special attention to your pet. A new baby is a full-time job, but your animal needs affection too.

Encourage your pet to sit next to you with the baby. Never force a pet to be near a child, and always supervise pet interactions. You want the experience to be as calm as possible, so your pet will quickly recognize your new baby as part of the family.

The Centers for Disease Control have guidelines for the health risks pregnant women may face cleaning up after cats. You can read those here.