Once you’ve managed to paint the nursery, put up the crib, wash and fold those tiny little outfits and stock up on diapers, there’s one important step you shouldn’t overlook — your family pet(s).
If you’re a mommy or daddy to a furbaby or two, preparing your pet for the upcoming arrival of the new baby is an extremely eminent step you’ll need to take to ensure the introduction is a pleasant one and that your first “baby” doesn’t become jealous and lash out, causing harm to your child.
By following these simple tips, you can help ease your pet’s stress and assist him or her in being as welcoming to your new family member as you are– this way there will always be peace and harmony in the household.
First, make sure your pet is healthy. Take him or her to your veterinarian for a check up, and get their regular vaccinations. An illness or pain can certainly set off an angry mood to start with and adding in the stress of a new family member can add fuel to the fire.
Know your pets moods — By now you should know what truly sets your pets mood off. Some dogs and cats just simply don’t like young children and if they are known for lunging or snapping at children or strangers at the park or while out on a daily walk, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a pet trainer or behavioral specialist who can offer advice on helping your pet adapt to the new family member. You’ll want to take things slowly with your pet and start earlier on in your pregnancy so they can be well adjusted before baby arrives.
You might want to consider enrolling your pet in a training class so you can safely and humanely control your pets behavior and enhance the bond between you and your pet.
Acclimate your pet to baby-related noises such as cries and the sounds of an infant mobile or swing. Try playing recordings of a baby crying and give your pet treats to help make these positive experiences.
Expose your pet to a baby doll so they can get used to it and be ready for the real thing when it arrives. Carry around the doll (in swaddle fashion), push the doll around in a stroller, and act out daily baby-related activities such as feeding, diapering and bathing so your pet gets accustomed to the events. Also, allow your pet to smell the baby powder, lotion and other bath time products you plan to use on your child so they’re not alarmed to the new scents.
Help your pet get used to the increase in foot traffic by inviting friends and family over, especially if they have children of their own. This will give your pet the opportunity to get used to seeing new faces and hearing the pitter-patter of tiny feet.
Once baby arrives, allow your pet to make the first move. For dogs, it’s a good idea to make the introduction outdoors with your dog on a leash. Dogs feel more free outdoors and it helps eliminate territorial issues. For cats, allow your feline to have the opportunity to smell your child by way of a blanket or outfit first. Kitties communicate with scent and identify their friends with familiar scents. Try petting kitty with one of baby’s socks and then place the sock on your child so kitty can smell the similar scent. Kitty will identify baby as part of his or her family and be more receptive to them.
Certainly don’t force the introduction if your pet is hesitant at first. Gradually increase the amount of exposure your pet receives from the new baby and praise him or her when they react in a positive manner. When they realize there is nothing to fear and that the new baby is not competition, meetings will go more smoothly.
Watch over your pet during each “play date” and don’t forget to make one-on-one time with your pet each day to remind them of how important they are. With proper training, supervision and the adjustments you make for your pet and your baby, you’ll be able to live together more happily and safely — as the bond grows for a lifetime of pure family bliss.
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