Adjusting a Pet to a Baby
While there are many adjustments to make with the arrival of a new baby, there is one that is often overlooked. If you've had a pet in the house for awhile, the new baby's sudden presence can be quite a surprise for your animal. Many pet owners worry that the pet will become jealous of the new baby. There are certain steps that you can take to help your pet adjust to the baby, and these steps can be very helpful for the transition process.
Tips Before Baby Arrives
There are a number of things that you can do to help your pet adjust before the baby even arrives. Some people will pull back a bit of their affection for their animal in the weeks leading up to the baby's arrival. If you tend to give your animal a great deal of attention, you may want to give it a bit less. This will help to ease the transition and to help your animal adjust to your changes. When the baby arrives, take a receiving blanket and wrap the baby in it. Then, the next day, have your husband bring the blanket home. Put it somewhere near the animal and let your animal smell it and become comfortable with this new smell. Similarly, you may want to put out some of the baby's toys so that the animal can adjust to them and can smell them before the baby arrives. You may also want to play a tape of a baby crying, laughing and making sounds for the few weeks leading up to the baby's arrival. This will get the animal used to the sounds that will soon come into its life.
Babies definitely tend to upset your routine. Whether you're overwhelmed with the child's care in general, or exhausted after being up all night with a crying baby, your routine will take a backseat to your baby's care. Try, as much as possible, to maintain your routine with your pet. Continue to feed your pet at the same time that you always did, and provide routine exercise for your animal. Bring in a dog walker for awhile if this is necessary and you aren't able to provide this important activity for your pet.
Make sure that your pet has a comfortable area that is just his. He should know that he can go off to this quiet place to sleep and to be left alone. If you sleep with your animal, and plan to sleep with the baby, you may need to adjust your sleeping arrangements. Consider moving the animal to the foot of the bed, or out of the room before the baby arrives. If you feel it is necessary, invest in some pet training classes before the baby arrives.
Protect the Baby and Animal From Each Other
As the baby grows, it's important for you to protect your animals from your baby. Toddlers can be very playful. At the same time, they don't know that they shouldn't be yanking the cat's tail or biting the dog's ear. Keep a watchful eye on the baby and make sure that your animal is protected. Similarly, ensure that your baby is safe. While most animals will adjust well over time to a baby's arrival, there are times when the two are not compatible. If a dog continues to be aggressive with a baby or if a cat scratches a baby many times, you may need to find it a new home.
As your family expands, you should be able to show love to your new baby and to your existing animal. Helping your animal to adjust before the baby arrives, and once the baby is home, will help a great deal with the transition.