Congratulations, you’re expanding your family. You are getting ready to welcome your first child into the home, and while over the moon, you may be a bit worried how your pet will react. Whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit or budgie, your pets are likely a central part of your family.
While on the one hand you may be worried about your baby’s safety around the new pet, you are probably also concerned that your pet will feel pushed out or lonely once the baby arrives. You may worry that you won’t have the time to commit to looking after your pet once you become a mother. How can you go about preparing your pet for the baby?
Firstly, there is no need to get rid of your pet because you are expecting a baby. You can prepare your pet for the arrival of a baby, help them to deal with any stress and uncertainty it may cause, and prepare them for life as part of a larger family now.
How will my pet react?
When the baby arrives, your pet may feel a bit jealous, something similar to the sibling rivalry experienced by older children. It is unavoidable that with the addition of a baby to the family, you will have less time to spend with your pet. One way to make the transition easier, is to prepare your pet for this during pregnancy.
Rather than a sharp decrease in the time and attention your pet receives, try to decrease it gradually throughout the pregnancy. If your pet is particularly attached to you, encourage your partner to build a strong relationship with the pet to compensate for when the baby is hogging most of your attention.
Preparing your pet
The more preparation you do during pregnancy, the easier the transition will be. With that in mind, here are some simple tips to help prepare your pet for the new baby:
- spay or neuter your pet – sterilized pets are calmer and less likely to bite
- go to the vets – make sure your pet is up to date with vaccinations and has had a full health check before the baby arrives
- deal with any behavioural problems – if your pet nips or pounces, now is the time to break that habit
- keep your pet’s nails short
- train your pet not to jump into your lap until invited
- apply double sided sticky tape to any furniture you don’t want your pet to jump on – the crib or changing table for example
When baby arrives
Allow your pet to sniff a blanket or item of clothing with the baby’s scent on. This will allow your pet to become accustomed to the new smell. Introduce your pet to the baby carefully, and be sure to have treats handy to reward good behaviour. Try to make it a positive experience for your pet. Never leave your baby alone with your pet.
Routine is important for animals, and they can easily become stressed by routine changes. If you always walk your dog at a certain time, try to stick as closely to the routine as you can once baby arrives. This even allows you to get some exercise and fresh air each day!
Do you have any tips for how to allow your baby and animal to build a strong bond?
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Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.