Bringing home a new baby can be a big transition for the entire family, pets included. Whether your fur baby has been your ‘only child’ or you’re continuing to add to your ‘pack’, figuring out how to introduce a new baby to your pets can be exciting and stressful.
Be sure to plan ahead!
-Break out the baby gadgets like the swing or bassinet, nursery furniture and car seat/stroller well in advance. This will give your pets a chance to acclimate themselves with the change and not feel as overwhelmed when baby arrives.
-Continue to set and enforce firm boundaries with your pet(s). Enforce verbal commands like ‘come’, ‘sit’, ‘go to bed/crate’ and ‘lay down’. Your second trimester is a great time to spend some additional time on obedience training since it will be fresh in their mind and give you plenty of time to practice.
-If you don’t yet have one, make a safe place for your pet, away from the excitement. As your child grows, teach them that the pet’s safe place if off limits.
-Work out the details of who will be taking care of your pets while the baby is born. Will your partner come home from the hospital to care for the pets? If you are choosing to birth in the home, you may want someone to come by to feed and play with your pets so you, your partner and your birth team can focus on labor.
Bringing home baby!
-Have someone bring home something scented with the baby (blanket, onesie) in order for your pet to get acclimated to the baby's smells.
-When you arrive home, have others go in first to greet the pet, then come wait with baby so that you can go visit with your pet before they see you with the baby. Chances are good your pet has missed you tremendously, especially if you were out of the home for a few days while the baby was born.
-It may be best to leash the dog for initial interaction, especially if your pup hasn't had a ton of exposure to children previously. Reward good behaviors with lots of love and treats, and correct inappropriate behaviors immediately.
-Just like a human sibling, fur siblings could exhibit some jealousy after baby is home. Sometimes just a few minutes of attention can go a long way for settling a jealous pet and ensuring they still feel loved!
Some great additional resources are available from both the American Kennel Club (AKC)