Introduce your baby to pets: You are anxiously waiting for the arrival of your new family member.
You have started preparation of the of the baby room. You have set the crib, painted the room. Baby proofed your house.
As that day comes nearer, you decorate your house with lights, balloons, and flowers. And the inside is crammed with baby’s stuff.
If you have a pet, he is watching all this.
- Preparing your pet before the arrival of your baby
- 19 ways to introduce your baby to pets to build your baby & pet bonding
- Note to parents – Word of caution
Your pet has been with you from the beginning. Your pet is watching and observing everything.
If you have a dog, he even takes it as his responsibility to guard and protect the house.
He senses the changes happening within your house and he does not know the reason for this change.
When the environment of a house changes dramatically, animals get stressed.
You love your baby and you love your pet too, but it does not mean they also love each other.
So, how to go about introducing your pet to your baby and help them love each other?
Preparing your pet before the arrival of your baby
Prevention is always better than cure. Adapting some simple changes beforehand can save you from stress, after the baby is born.
It is vital to show to your pet that nothing scary is happening or going to happen.
Never think to send your beloved pet to shelter, you can teach him whatever you want.
First, do all the decorations by keeping your pet in mind.
- When you are working on baby’s room decor, make sure to have some space from where your pet can see inside. Otherwise, he will feel isolated and furious.
- If your pet jumps and messes up, then install a security gate.
- Leave space over that security gate so he can see and smell because escaping from a pet and shutting doors will make the situation worse.
- Also, show him the space and the objects of the baby who is going to be born, from the cradle to the bathtub, from rompers to rattle.
Your pet will love the time you spend with him. But at the same time will get familiar with the new items in the house.
If you have a dog. He might sniff around a bit and then register it as part of the household items he might have to guard and protect.
- I also played with my dog asking where the baby is. And trained him to the word baby room. He also got trained to come till the door and sit and watch and not enter inside.
By doing so the animal will not feel excluded.
- Make changes in your pet’s feeding and walking and sleeping time. If he did not have one, make it into a schedule so it becomes easy or you and for your pet when the baby arrives.
- Before the arrival of your baby, train your pet to spend more time alone so that he gets used to it and when the baby comes, your pet does not associate this less attention with the baby.
- Communicate with your pet, even during your recovery. Make sure your other family members give proper time to your pet. My husband would show pictures of the baby to my dog.
If you have a dog:
If there is a dog within the house, you must act beforehand by gradually introducing the smell of your baby, before the first meeting.
My husband would let the dog smell the baby cloth bag when he brings it home for washing. When I was in the hospital.
It is important to familiarize your pet with the baby’s smell.
If you have a cat:
If there is a cat, however, this preliminary is not necessary. He is curious but independent, he likes to get things done.
The important thing is to ban him from jumping into the cradle because he could roll in the soft mattress laid out for your baby even when the baby is inside.
Best to train the cat not to enter the baby room. My cat’s egos were so high that she never entered even if I called her.
Even after the room was no more a baby room and became a guest bedroom she wouldn’t enter.
How-to Introduce your baby to pets to build your baby & pet bonding
When a new-born arrives, it is always a wonderful feeling. I am sure you have your house prepared for your baby and you have baby proofed your home.
If you like to know more on how to baby proof your home, please read our article baby proof.
It is important to understand how to introduce your baby to pets and build your baby and pet bonding. To bring about a lifelong connection.
You often worry about what your pet can do to the new-born, you are worried that cats/dogs and babies might not get along well.
You have often heard from the family members and friends that cats/dogs are a risk to your baby.
And it is best to hand the pet over regardless of what part of the world you belong to.
Below are some of the ways I followed to introduce my baby to pets. Both my dogs and my cats.
- When you are taking your baby home, the first person to meet you with all enthusiasm will be your dog.
Your dog will be excited to meet you after a gap (when you were in the hospital). At this point if your pet is just too excited. Wait for your dog to settle in.
- It is best if, for the first time, mother greets the pet without the baby in her arms.
And she dedicates all the pampering, the prizes and attention that it is expecting to receive after a brief separation.
Remember that your pet missed you while you were in the hospital.
- Let your dog settle. He must be seated. Talk to him gently, show him the baby and let him sniff the baby. It is through the sense of smell that he becomes conversant with others.
Hold your baby in your arms and speak with your dog gently. Slowly introduce your baby to pets by letting your pet smell your baby. I usually show the baby towel first. Then the baby’s feet for the dog to sniff.
Check his reaction and the show the baby’s face. This way you avoid your dog from licking the babies face.
- Spend some time sitting patiently with your dog and your baby till your dog settles down.
Once the mystery is demystified by your dog, he will start focusing his attention on you or other matters of the house.
Pat your dog and tell him he has been a good boy. That will reinforce good behaviour.
On the opposite hand, is to be held in his arms while the kid is shown to it. After sniffing him, it is going to be quite different: if the arrival of the kid does not interfere in its habits and spaces, a cat will accept him.
- Do not make your pet feel excluded and never treat your pet with a cold attitude. It is important to be consistent after your baby comes home.
For example, it might be confusing if suddenly you start using the cage as it was never utilized in the past, but suddenly the cage was used.
This can be very traumatic for the pet. So, if you would like a special lifestyle pattern than before, train, before your baby comes.
- Babies cannot move and the behaviour of animals is difficult to predict.
Therefore, it is better that you are cautious. You never know what can happen if you leave them together. Never let your pet cross the security door.
- Never put your pet’s food in the baby’s area. Do not call your pet inside to your baby room. Keep the training you had given before your baby arrived going.
- To avoid jealousy when the mother is taking care of her baby, it is important that your pet is not locked up in a room.
This behaviour would make him nervous and unpredictable.
It is better to let it go round the house and reward it if your pet behaves well while you take care of the baby.
- Try to play with the pets and maintain the routine of playing, combing and basically anything the pet was engaged with prior to baby’s arrival. Engage in the same way even after the baby arrives.
- When a baby arrives, many guests will come to see the baby. It is important that you simply ask them to treat the pet also.
Or after the guest has gone. Spend some time with your pet to reward him.
- Make sure the vaccination of the pet is complete and he is not poisonous for humans.
Also, trim his nails as a precaution. Maintain good pet hygiene and keep his mane brushed and well groomed.
- If the behaviour of a pet is aggressive and he is not settling down, then talk to proper pet trainers from reputable organizations. Pet training is essential when you have kids around.
(We have heard several cases reported in these pet training organizations where lack of proper training caused very bad consequences.)
- No matter how much you love your pet, never allow him to sleep with the new-born. Also, never allow your pets to lick your baby.
Because there are harmful bacteria in their mouth which could be very dangerous for your baby.
- Teach your pet to sit calmly whenever you enter a room with a baby. Wait for his time to be with the baby.
Keep introducing your baby to your pet often. This way, they will both get more and more familiar with each other.
- Give proper time to your pet to abstain him from feeling bitter or resentful.
You have an excellent opportunity to show your child how to treat the pet with respect and teach your kid what responsibility, giving and love for animals are.
- Teach new skills to your pet, skills he is not already familiar with. For example, words like, leave him, stay back etc. this will be beneficial with your baby.
- If your pet takes anything from your baby, do not be annoyed with him. If you scold him for taking baby’s toy etc, he will associate negativity with the baby. Instead be stern with your “No”.
And then again, welcome him afterward. Do remember to sterilise your toy if your pet had touched it. Sun dry all your baby’s toys weekly once.
- Play with your pet, give him attention, have fun when your baby is around. This will help your pet to understand that this is an amazing addition in the family.
He will wait for this happy moment with the baby and will get bored without him. This will make the bond stronger.
- Do not forget to praise your pet whenever he behaves the way you want him to. This is constant validation of the way your pet needs to behave around your baby.
Note to parents when you introduce your baby to pets – Word of caution
Most of the time your baby and your pet should get along just fine.
But for some reason if you feel that there is tension between your baby and your pet, it is best that you keep them separate and spend some time alone with your pet consciously so that it does not build resentment against your baby.
If you find your baby getting anxious or stressed because of your pet being around, read our article How-To deal with anxiety in Babies & Toddlers. To know more about baby anxieties and how to deal with them.
And they usually show their discomfort by crying or shrieking. If this happens, it is best to not expose your baby often to your pet.
Do read our article on effective ways to calm a crying baby. Why is my Baby Crying? Tips to calm your crying Baby.
Rule out that the baby is crying only because of the presence of your pet and not other reasons.
Give your baby time to warm up to your pet in their own time.
Do not force your pet or your baby to bond with each other. This only will make matters worse and might cause stress to either one of them or both.
Being a parent is work. Having a new-born is stressful physical work. I understand that. So to help new parents I have written a post 15 Easy Practical Parenting Tips – For New Parents. Do spend some time knowing these tips and tricks.
Your baby and pet will learn many good things from each other like responsibility, living together with a family etc.
It is all about managing behaviour and emotions. It is our responsibility to take care of all emotional and physical needs of our pets as we take care of our kids.
Proper familiarity and reference to respect and love will keep the pet happy, calm and the children’s partners more.
Do not make your pet feel rejected. Remember your pet is part of your family. And your baby is going to be part of his life too.
Just like you in his own way your pet will also make adjustment in his life to accommodate the new member in the family.
If you remember this and you treat your pet as a partner in celebration, he is going to be far more relaxed and welcoming.
Your pet will be one of the best gifts you have given to your baby. And your baby and him will form a bond that will last a lifetime.