Center for Surrogate Parenting, Inc.

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Introducing a New Baby to Pets

Tips for introducing a new baby to pets

It’s wonderful for a child to grow up with one or more pets in the household. Cats, dogs and other fur babies make great playmates for little ones. Pets also teach babies kindness and responsibility over time. Newborns are easygoing as far as pets are concerned. However, the adjustment may be a little more difficult for your pets. At CSP, we love pets and we have tips for introducing a new baby to pets.

Prepare your pet

When your bundle of joy finally arrives, there will be a lot of changes for your pet. We recommend making the transition as gradual as possible. For example, you can decorate and furnish the nursery long before the baby arrives to allow your pet to get used to the additional furniture and the smell. If your pets are going to be allowed in the baby’s room, you should let them check it out. If you don’t want them in the nursery once the baby is born, it’s best to put up a gate to block the entrance. A gate still enables them to see and hear what’s going on, which makes them feel less isolated.

If your pet is rambunctious or exhibiting other behavioral issues, now is a good time to address it. If your cat is litter-trained and your dog listens to your commands, it will be easier to keep your baby safe. You may also want to get your dog used to the idea of gates before the baby arrives and use them at regular intervals. We recommend setting up an area for your dog with a favorite toy or treat. After all, the use of the baby gate shouldn’t be a punishment for your dog. It is a necessary safety precaution you need to have in place.

Arrange for pet care

Having a newborn is an amazing experience, but it’s no doubt exhausting. Many new parents can use extra help, especially if they’re also taking care of pets. It’s important to plan for pet care early in the process. You should find someone who can feed and care for your animals, especially if you’ll be traveling to bring your newborn home with you. You may even want someone to walk the dog for you for the first few weeks of your baby’s life because you probably won’t have the energy for it.

Make time for your pets when introducing a new baby to pets

Having a baby is nothing like you dreamed it would be. We know you’ll be over-the-moon in love with your new baby, but we also know that you have many sleepless nights ahead of you. It’s natural to feel exhausted, but it’s important not to neglect your pets when the baby comes. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make it easier for your pet.

Ideally, you should adjust your schedule before you bring your baby home. It sounds counter intuitive, but if you gradually reduce the amount of time you spend with your pets, having the new baby won’t be such a drastic change for them. If you need to adjust their feeding schedule, it’s also best to do this ahead of time.

If your pet is used to spending more time with one of the partners, it may be a good idea to get them used to the other one now. This gives you more flexibility when one of you is busy with the baby. Either way, it’s good practice to make sure that someone spends at least 10 minutes of quality time with your pet every day. It may help you relax, and it will mean the world to your pet.

The process of introducing your new baby to pets

Introducing your new baby to pets is a lot like introducing your pets to another new pet. If possible, you should bring home something that smells like the baby and show it to your pet first. This could be a blanket or burp rag or piece of clothing. Dogs are especially grateful for exploring new scents.

When you bring your baby home for the first time, someone else should hold the baby while you approach your pet for a warm welcome. Spend time with your pet, talk to them, pet them and give them some treats. If your dog gets too excited, it’s best to take the baby out of the room temporarily and help them calm down and try again. Then you can let your dog approach the baby and allow them to get to know each other. Of course, any interactions between your pet and your baby should never be forced, but they must always be supervised.

How to keep Your baby safe

While most dogs and cats are worthy of your trust, you cannot predict what will happen. Babies startle easily and make sudden movements that could seem scary to a pet. A pet could also accidentally hurt a baby by doing the thing they normally do with you, such as sitting on your lap. A dog may even want to carry a baby around, much they would with a newborn pup. They don’t mean any harm, but it can put your baby at risk. For these reasons, you should make sure that all interactions between your pet and your baby are supervised. Otherwise, it’s best to ensure there’s a physical separation.

We recommend that you prevent your pets from licking your baby’s face, since your newborn’s immune system is still weak. It’s important to keep your interactions with your pet positive and not to add new restrictions, unless they’re necessary. For example, if your dog has always been allowed to sit on the couch, they should still be able to do so once the baby comes. Don’t forget to enjoy the friendship that is bound to blossom between your new arrival and your pets, and take pictures whenever you can.