So you are expecting a little one! (Of the human kind that is!) Congratulations! In the course of the many preparations in expectation of your baby, on that list should be considering what measures you will need to take to make the presence of the baby acceptable in your pet’s eyes! Make the changes well in advance of the delivery date so that they won’t be associated with the baby. Here are some things to think about:
- Before the baby comes, start getting the pet used to a regular schedule that you feel is realistic and can be kept with an infant present. Start the animal on it’s new Include in this feeding and walking schedule a 5-10 minute period when you will attend only to the pet’s needs (“quality time”). During this time pet the animal, groom, scratch, play with toys, etc.Keep to this schedule and make it one that can be implemented in the presence of an infant. Be realistic and don’t feel guilty. Five or ten minutes is probably more time than you give the pet now!
- Start the pet, if it’s a dog, on a leash-walking schedule you can anticipate maintaining with a baby. Again, make your schedule realistic and implement it prior to the arrival of the baby. If you have difficulty controlling the dog on a leash, now is the time to get that under control.
- Allow the pet to explore the area where the baby will sleep and be changed. Let them explore the new items such as Stroller, high chair and crib and if these will be “off limits” in the future, make it clear now. Let them become familiar with new smells such as baby powder and lotion.
- When the baby is born, have the baby’s clothing. Allow the pet to smell these and have them around the house.
- When the baby comes home, one person should hold the baby and the other control the access of the animals. If you have a dog that jumps, he should be put in another room until the baby is initially settled. You may want to introduce him/her to the rest of the family on a leash, if that gives you more control. If the pet is going to greet the new mother very exuberantly, let someone else hold the baby so the mother can greet the pet; this way the baby isn’t accidentally injured and the pet can be hugged by the owner.
- Once the pandemonium has died down, one spouse should settle comfortably on a couch or bed with the baby and the other should be responsible for controlling and monitoring the pet. The pet should be allowed to smell the baby and explore, but should be leashed or otherwise restrained in case he makes any sudden aggressive movements towards the baby. If the pet is fearful of the baby, talk to them gently, pet them and encourage them to smell the infant. DO NOT hold out or dangle the child in front of the pet.
- Under no circumstances should any pet be allowed to sleep with or in the room of an unattended infant. Get an Intercom and close the door. Young babies cannot push a pet of any size off them, and the pet could accidentally smother the child.