By Melissa Moog, Itsabelly Founder
The Pacific Northwest is full of animal lovers, which reminds me just how many families include animals. We have two yellow labs that have become Isabella’s favorite playmates. As a new parent I was interested in learning how I could make the transition into life with our newborn easier on our furry friends. So, here are some tips to help you introduce your pets to the arrival of a new baby.
Introducing your new baby to your current children takes planning and research, but don’t forget about your furry family members aka your pets. There is a lot that can be done to help ensure the whole family enjoys this event to the fullest. Below you can find a condensed list of the recommendations for things you can do before the baby arrives from the Humane Society that is echoed by parenthood.com.
* Get your pet accustomed to spending less time with you. Because your new baby will demand a lot of time and energy, you won’t be able to spend as much time with your pet. A sudden, drastic decrease in attention coupled with frequent scolding of your pet after the baby comes home will likely stress your pet.
* Ensure your pet has a close relationship with a family member besides the mother-to-be. That way, the pet can still feel loved and provided for while mom is busy with the baby.
* Ensure your pets are current with their yearly exams, vaccinations, and are spayed or neutered. Sterilization is particularly important because it tends to result in a calmer pet with less reproductive health issues.
* Consult with your veterinarian and pediatrician to resolve any concerns you have around your pets and the baby. Resolving these problems early will ease your mind and smooth the transition.
* Ensure you have good control of your canine companion. Consider enrolling in an obedience training class with your dog if you have any specific issues or need better behavior. Get help from an animal behavior specialist for any of the more difficult issues, for example a pet exhibiting fear and/or anxiety.
* Train your pet to remain calmly on the floor beside you until you invite him on your lap, which will soon cradle a newborn.
* Trim your pet’s nails regularly to minimize potential scratching.
* Ask friends with infants to visit your home to accustom your pet to babies. Remember to supervise all pet and infant interactions.
* Familiarize your pet with baby-related noises. For instance, play recordings of a baby crying or turn on the mechanical infant swing. Make these positive experiences for your pet by offering a treat or playtime.
* Apply double-stick tape to the furniture to discourage your pet from jumping on the baby’s crib and changing table.
* Block the entrance to the baby’s room with a sturdy, removable gate high enough to keep your pet from jumping over it. By doing this, you will teach your pet that the baby’s room is off limits.
* Talk to your pet about the baby, using the baby’s name regularly if you’ve selected one.
* Have your pet sniff baby’s blanket and toys so she becomes familiar with these new smells.
* Plan ahead and make sure your pet is cared for properly while you’re at the birthing center.
* Carry around a swaddled baby doll to help your pet get used to the real thing.