Bringing Home Baby...to a Pet

Many animal owners become apprehensive as the end of the pregnancy nears. How will the pet react to the new baby? Will there be jealousy? Will the baby be in danger or does the baby need to be watched all the time? These are all important questions and ones that can be explored to help assuage pet lover's fears as they prepare for a baby.

While You're Still Pregnant

Assuming that you are still pregnant, there are a number of steps that you can take to get your pet ready for a baby. If you are someone who loves to shower affection on your animal, now might be a good time to ease up a bit. While this may sound harsh, and feel funny, it might help to create a bit more distance between you and your animal. This can make the transition when the baby arrives easier as you're busy and tired. Take out some of the baby's toys and let your animal explore them. The animal can smell them and get a sense of what it will feel like to have new items in the house. You might want to play a tape of a baby crying to give him a feeling for the noise that will soon be in the house.

When the Baby Comes

Right when the baby comes, there are a few important things that you can do. Put a receiving blanket by the baby in the hospital and then give this blanket to your husband to take home. Let your animal smell the blanket and explore the new smell. This may make the initial transition easier. Also, when you arrive home, try to immediately give your animal attention. The baby can be cared for by your husband or another relative. Show your animal that you missed it and that you are available to show it affection.

Keep to a Routine

Animals like their routines and they often get upset if their routines are changed. Don't send your animal away for the first few days when you come home with the baby. Some people assume that this will be a good break for the animal, and a chance for you to adjust; instead, it will make the animal more agitated and more likely to resent the baby. Try to keep to your routines as much as possible, even if you are exhausted with the new baby. Feed your animal and walk your animal at the same times, and in the same ways as you always have. If this means that you need to bring in a dog walker to help you, or a baby sitter to watch the baby, then do so.

The Animal's Space

Make sure that your animal has an area that is all his - and that the baby can not come into. He should know that there is a quiet place where he can go when he wants to be left alone. If you sleep with your animal, and now plan to sleep with the baby, you may need to think about these arrangements and adjust them accordingly.

Be Vigilant

As much as you love your animal, it is an animal. You need to be vigilant in the beginning when you bring home a baby. Don't leave the baby unattended in a place that the animal can reach. Over time, the animal will come to trust and accept the baby, but it is something new and different at first. The animal might be aggressive towards the baby, or just curious, but it can end in a dangerous situation. Similarly, as the baby grows, make sure that you protect your animal. Toddlers can be incredibly playful and the dog or cat may not like having its tail pulled all the time or its body tackled as a playmate.

Keep in mind that transitions are always difficult for anyone and everyone. Your pet is no different. With patients and energy, you'll find that you can help to create a smooth transition between or animal and baby and that you can all enjoy living in the house together for years to come!

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