Make way fur baby, there’s a new sheriff in town!
Welcoming a new human addition to the family is such an exciting time, but it can often be a confusing process for unprepared cats and dogs at home. Little do they know this tiny, screaming human who is taking all of your attention is going to be their new best friend!
Brush up on how best to prepare and then introduce your furry friends before welcoming your new addition home so it’s an easy, breezy process for all. Plus, we’ll provide tips on life post-baby to ensure everyone is as happy and healthy as possible.
Preparing your pet for the change coming their way is critical for their adaption to life with a new brother or sister. Making gradual changes in your pet’s routine, such as their eating schedules or their new sleeping location, is one of the most important ways you can prepare. You don’t want your pet to associate changes, which they may perceive as negative, with the baby.
Additionally, you should plan to decrease the amount of attention you give your pet in the weeks leading up to your birth or adoption. We know, this may seem counterintuitive as you try and pack in solo time with your first, furry baby, but you should prepare your pet for less attention without having them associate that change with baby’s arrival.
Another great tip is to get your pet adjusted to the new scents and sounds of baby-life. We recommend playing a tape recording of baby sounds, including cries – brace yourself!, every day for longer and longer periods of time. Plus, it’s smart to get your pets used to the new baby smells such as baby lotions and powders.
It’s important for your pet to have “their space” in your home, no matter how big or small. If they already have a space that will work when baby comes, that’s great! If they either don’t have “their place” yet or you need to move it to be more baby-friendly, do that before baby comes. Get their favorite toys and bed or crate situated and give them treats when they go in to “their space.” Show them that going to their own area when they want to is encouraged.
Similarly, start training your pets, dogs especially, to know where to go when you’re caring for your new babe. For example, train your dog to sit next to the rocking chair in the nursery and wait patiently there while you fake change a diaper, rock a stuffed animal, read a book, etc. They’re going to want to see what’s going on in there once baby comes, but you want them to be calm and comfortable enough not to jump up on you, the baby’s crib,etc. If you have a pet who can’t find their zen, you may want to consider getting a baby gate for the nursery to ensure your pet’s excitement doesn’t get the best of them.
Post-Arrival – Yay!
Once your baby is ready to come home, the excitement of your growing family will seem even more real. Including the big introduction!
If you can, send a baby blanket or used onesie home prior for your pet to get accustomed to their new brother or sister’s smell. The association with the baby’s smell and the calm of home will help smooth their transition to big bro/sis.
When it’s time to make introductions, you can skip the name tags, but don’t skip the leash! You can let your pet get close, but it’s important to ensure you’re in control when it comes to your pet getting overly excited or even territorial. Plus, a sudden scream or flail could set even the gentlest of pets off to overreact. After a few days of your pet getting used to your new addition, you can get them closer for a good whiff while always keeping the baby elevated with another adult between the baby and pet. Again, we’re sure your pet will handle their new role as a sibling well,but it’s smart to be safe.
After the initial few days of cohabiting, the shock will likely start to lessen for your pet. It’s important to give your pet attention when the baby is around to ensure they associate positive actions with the baby in the room. Additionally, you’ll want to ease up scolding when it comes to your cat or dog touching the baby’s things. Instead of quickly grabbing a baby toy out of their mouth, replace it with their dog or cat toy.
Baby on the Move
Believe it or not, before you know it your baby will be on the move. Keep a close eye to ensure they’re treating your pet with respect. This means teaching your child to give gentle pets and not to pull on your pet’s ears and tail. It’s in your pet’s nature to respond to something uncomfortable with a snap or growl. Stay alert to avoid a negative interaction!
Help your child learn that your pet’s safe space in your home is not a play space. Redirect your child so they don’t invade your cat or dog’s quiet area. Similarly, you can keep your pet out of your child’s room if they need their own pet-free space too.
Finally, don’t take a page out of Peter Pan and leave your child with your dog. They’re not a nanny and we’re pretty sure they didn’t pass a babysitting course. While your pet and child hopefully will become the best of friends, it’s always important to have an adult nearby.
For those who have introduced their fur and human babies to each other before, what are we missing? We’ll update our post with your tips if you send us your advice.
While you’re here, don’t forget to add your human baby to your insurance AND get pet health insurance for your fur baby! Bivvy pet insurance offers affordable coverage for cats and dogs alike.