Congratulations! You’ve got a baby on the way! This is an exciting time for your little family and your life is about to change in so many ways. Up until this point, you’ve been a proud pet parent to your furchildren (SPOILER ALERT: Pets do NOTHING to prepare you for human babies, just FYI), and you’re ready to bring home your new bundle of joy and start taking all the videos and photos as your kiddos become the best of friends.
While dogs, cats, and babies can have some great relationships, it’s important that you prep your pet for all that’s about to change. This can be a very stressful time for your furbabies and ensuring that they are properly prepared for your new arrival will go a long way in setting everyone up for success.
Here are a few things you can do to make your pet’s transition a little easier:
3. Have a Baby Dress Rehearsal: The more you can get your pets used to baby things and noises prior to giving birth, the smoother the transition will be. Play recordings of babies crying for your pet. There’s no shortage of clips on the internet. Introduce these noises to your animals, quietly at first, then gradually increasing duration and volume so that they can get used to the noise without feeling stressed. Take your dog for a walk with your stroller so they can get used to walking alongside it. Carry around a lifelike baby doll so your animals can get used to you carrying a baby. Anything you can do to mimic life after baby will get your pets on the road to understanding that this is their new normal. By the time baby comes, it will be far less stressful and disruptive for your furbabies.
4. Create a Safe Space: Whether you have a dog or cat, it’s important that your pet has a safe space where they can escape to do be alone. For dogs, this is usually a crate or a dog bed, and for a cat, this is usually high up on a perch, windowsill, or bookshelf. Make sure these areas are in low-traffic, quiet areas and are cozy and filled with toys and treats. It’s important that your furry friend has a place to escape to when they’re feeling tired, overwhelmed, or just want to be alone.
5. Set Some Boundaries: While there are few things cuter than internet videos of babies with their dogs and cats, it’s never a good idea to leave animals alone with babies. All interaction should be supervised for both the safety of your pet and your baby. However, you can’t just lock your pet in a room or seclude them. This is confusing for your pet. A great way to set a boundary where they still feel included is to use baby gates around your home to block off rooms or hallways. This way, your pet learns limits, but they can still see, smell, and hear what is going on without feeling excluded. Start this practice early on so your pet gets used to not having full access to your home at all times.
6. Work on Bad Habits NOW: If you don’t like your dog sleeping with you or jumping on the furniture, now is the time to put an end to it. If you’ve got a cat that thinks it’s okay to climb all over your kitchen counters, you may want to put a stop to it. If your dog goes crazy when the doorbell rings and you’re afraid this will wake a sleeping baby, get to work on Fido’s training immediately. You won’t have time to train your pet when you’re having to tend to a newborn. Work on obedience training with your dog. Take them to a local training class. If they need a lot of work, consider hiring a trainer to work one-on-one with your pet. Whatever you choose, start immediately and stay consistent. You’ll be happy you’ve got a well-trained pet once you start experiencing the unpredictability of a new baby.
There’s no need for this process to be stressful. This is an exciting time for the whole family, and when you’ve properly prepared, pets and babies make a great combination. It’s just important to understand that animals thrive on routine, and any tiny disruption can be stressful for them if they are not properly introduced to these changes ahead of time. With a little preparation and early introduction, your furkids will be plenty ready to welcome their new brother or sister.