For many pet owners, the pet is their first child. So when you know that you are expecting a baby, one of your concerns is bound to be about how your pet will react to the new member of your household. As with everything else, a little time and effort can help. Planning well ahead of your baby’s arrival will ensure that your house pet makes the smooth transition to living in a house where the focus is on a wailing newborn.
Once your baby arrives, you will not be able to spend as much time with your pet as you previously did. And this can be very traumatising for your pet, especially if the change is sudden. This is why getting the pet accustomed to the imminent changes before they actually happen can help all of you settle easily into the new routine. Here are some things to keep in mind while preparing pets for a new baby:
Introduce your pet to the new sounds and smells that will come along with a newborn. You can do this by playing recordings of a crying baby and bringing in baby stuff such as lotions. Also, before you bring a baby home from the hospital, get your partner to get the baby’s blankets and dresses home for your pet to get used to the new smell.
Swaddle a doll or a toy and carry it around as you would carry a baby. To reinforce a positive association with the baby, reward your pet for good behaviour in the presence of the baby (doll). This will include not jumping all over the person carrying the baby or pulling the blanket used to wrap the baby in.
When you have a dog for a pet, you are likely to go for daily walks. So the next time you leash your dog and walk it, push along a stroller so your dog gradually gets used to walking next to it.
If your pet is prone to playfully jumping on people or barking, teach them not to do it anymore. Though much of your pet’s behaviour may be harmless to adults, with children even a simple scratch or a playful nip can have long-lasting consequences.
Demarcate the areas that you would like to be pet-free after the baby is home. This would include the baby’s changing table, cot or crib, and playpen. Make it clear to your pet that it is not to intrude in these spaces at any time.
When introducing a baby to pets, it is important to take it slow and easy. A positive and non-threatening environment can help with this. One way of doing this is to have one member of your family welcome the pet first and wait till your pet is calm. Then, slowly introduce the pet to the baby and let it investigate. Be sure to reward any good behaviour and always keep dogs on a leash and a close watch on cats while they are near the baby. And do not forget to spend some quality time with your pet each day even after your baby arrives. As little as five minutes can work wonders for your pet.
There is quite a bit of research to indicate that having a pet at home is, in fact, good for your child. Here’s why:
Pets are also vulnerable to jealousy or feelings of neglect. So, when your baby makes an entry into your home, there are some risks that come with it.
Animals can be unpredictable no matter how long they have been living with you. Since babies are bound to make unpredictable movements and also resort to unruly behaviour as they achieve milestones, it is important to keep a close watch on both child and pet when they are together. The following are some safety tips to remember:
These are just some handy suggestions to ensure that pets and newborn babies live together in peace and harmony. The individual temperament of your baby and your pet will, in reality, determine if they can get along or not.
By following these suggestions and being proactive about recognizing and tackling any problems that are likely to arise when babies and pets live together, you can ensure that they have a long-term and healthy relationship. And, as your baby grows up, keep emphasizing that pets are to be treated gently and with respect at all times. Watch how your child is with your pet and gently correct them if they are doing something wrong.
Also Read: Best Pets to Consider for Your Kids
This post was last modified on June 4, 2022 3:17 pm
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