Dogs and cats are the most common household pets and often times, they are a couple’s first baby. So when a new (human) baby joins the family, it’s not uncommon for pets to feel jealous or rejected. It’s an overwhelming time for all involved. Thankfully, there are things you can do ahead of time and after the baby comes that can help curb those feelings and prevent acting out.
Prior to your baby’s birth or adoption, introduce your pet to any baby gear. If you haven’t already set out the swing, crib, car seat, etc., do it now and get your pet used to having them around.
If you are planning on making changes after the baby arrives, make the changes beforehand. For instance, if your dog or cat will no longer be allowed to sleep on your bed, get them adjusted to sleeping in their new place now. Therefore, they will not see the baby as taking over their spot.
After your baby’s birth or adoption, if possible, take their hat or blanket home while mom and baby are still in the hospital or birth center and let your pet get acquainted with the smell. Sometimes, dogs and cats will end up “claiming” this blanket or hat so if you plan on keeping them, have two sets. One for keepsakes and one for your pet.
When the time comes for the first introduction of pet to baby, make sure they are calm. It may even be a good idea to have them on a leash or have someone holding them. Speak calmly to reduce the risk of your pet getting overly excited or scared.
Keep your pets involved. Nothing feels worse than being pushed away and rejected all the time, pets and humans alike. So try to keep your pet’s routine and involvement as normal as possible. Let them be near you as you change, feed, or hold the baby.
Utilize your postpartum doula if you have one. They can take the dog for a walk while you take care of the baby. Or your doula can care for your baby while you spend some time with your pet.
Babies and their furry friends can enjoy an amazing bond when they get off on the right foot. Use these tips to set them up for a great start!
For more info, check out http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pets_babies.html