The New Reigning Monarch
Most people who have pets before they have children take special care of them, and the pets are an integral part of the household. In many cases, the pet is the "baby" of the family and is treated as royalty. All of that changes the second you look into your newborn's eyes. Don't be fooled, your pet will have that figured out the instant it sees you walk through the door with your new baby-or maybe even before.
It's only fair to the animal to soften the blow as much as possible, especially since both pet and baby are going to dwell together with you in your home. Pets feel jealousy and they may become a bit hostile when their position is threatened. Long before your baby is born you can begin to prepare your pet for the imminent change. Establish a routine, a way of doing things that your pet becomes familiar with and can anticipate and rely upon. If the routine is well in place, in spite of your own personal chaos, the pet will remain relatively stable.
Begin To Prepare Your Pet Early On
It is important for you to consider some of the routines you had before you got pregnant and during your pregnancy that will have to change. For instance, if you ran with your dog for an hour every day, start cutting that time back gradually and lighten the intensity. If you intend to walk every day pushing a stroller with the dog on a lead, then the dog will have been adequately prepared ahead of time and won't miss the run too much. Otherwise, check out other methods of exercising your pet. Dog walkers are available (even a neighborhood kid), or create "play dates" in the park or at another home for your pet. Maintain your pet's diet. Stock up on the foods and snacks your pet always eats and stockpile toys to keep your pet amused and busy.
Prepare the baby's nursery early in your pregnancy and establish the rules long before baby arrives home. It is never a good idea to leave a pet alone in a room with a newborn. Both need surveillance. A cat can jump into the baby's crib, something you will want to avoid. The cat will not "suck the baby's breath" away, rather it will get close because it is curious and will want to mark baby and baby's sleeping area as its own. Only allow the pet into the room when you are there, otherwise, it is a no-go area for the animal. By assembling the baby's furniture before the baby arrives, the animal has a good amount of time to acclimate and adjust.
Once the baby arrives and you are still in the hospital, have your partner take something with the baby's scent on it home and place it in front of your pet, allowing the pet to sniff it. When you arrive home, allow the pet to sniff the baby, just be sure you are holding on to him/her safely in your arms. Never leave the pet alone with the baby and don't allow the pet to approach the baby unless you are right there-for the safety of your child.
Your Pet Needs Attention Too
Allow a reasonable amount of time for your pet to spend with you. It is important that the pet is given the opportunity to spend time with the person it is close to. It is fine for the pet to be in the same space as you and the baby when you are feeding. Ultimately, pets do adjust to the changes, just as everyone else in the house will. By taking some time to plan and help your pet make the adjustments the transition can be easier.