Learn about introducing babies and pets to each other, babies and pets at home and tips for families with children and pets.
Introducing Babies And Pets To Each Other
Pets at homes are used to have everybody’s attention, love and care until the babies arrive. Then, the baby has all the attention and they have to vie for their share. This may make the pet feel threatened, lonely and even jealous. The pets are known to have attacked babies in the past as they mistook him for a game or injure them accidentally while trying to play with the babies, as they are unable to guess how weak and vulnerable their new playmates can be. Here are few tips for the soon-to-be parents on how to prepare your pet for the new arrival of a little one in the household:
- Adjustments and changes: Anticipate changes in your and your pet’s lifestyle after the baby arrives. Thus, you need to train your pet to adapt to the changes in its feeding and walking schedules slowly and gradually. If the pets are more attached to the ‘would-be’ mom then other family members have to actively seek friendship from the pet and build a bond so that it does not feel suddenly left-out because the new mom does not have enough time and energy left to love and care for the pet as much as she used to. This is necessary so that the pets don’t feel neglected and think that the new ‘pet’ (baby) of the household is responsible for it.
- Handle behavioral and health problems in pets now: Get up-to-date with the vaccination and health exam schedule for your pets. Handle all the behavioral issues before the baby arrives such as fear, anxiety or aggression in pets and train them to stay on the floor beside you until they are invited to your lap and give them the toys to nibble upon, swat or bite as much as they like and train them not to try this on any live objects. This will keep your baby safe from any inappropriate mishandling from your pet.
- Training for the pets’ senses: Training pets to adapt to the sights, sounds and smells prepares them better for the arrival of the new baby. Invite friends with small kids to your home while you supervise your pets at all times. Use a baby doll to prepare the pet to see you swaddle the baby, put him in the stroller and take him with you as you go out for a walk with the pet and other routine activities that you will do with the baby such as using rocking chair and mechanical infant swing. Also train the pet for constant noise in the household by playing tapes of baby crying for your pet.
- Return from the hospital: Once the baby is born, ask someone to take one of his blankets, clothes or diapers to your pet so that they become acquainted with the new arrivals. Just after entering the home with the baby, let someone handle the baby for half an hour and spend that time in cuddling and playing with your pet alone so that it feels that it is still important for you and doesn’t feel threatened of being left out or lonely. Later, you can hold the baby while you make your pet ‘sit and stay’ near you. Instead of locking your pet out of room, give a treat to it instead to occupy the attention of the pet. This will help your pet to start associating your baby with good things and more fun in life.
- Be alert and careful: Though your pet may get trained, accept and even be friendly to your baby but you still need to be careful and never leave them both alone together because pets may accidentally injure the child as they may not be able to estimate their own strength and baby’s tenacity carefully and the newborns still don’t know how to protect themselves from the pet or call for help. Make sure that pets do not climb into your baby's crib, bassinet or bouncy seat and that pet gates are installed in ‘baby’ area.