What Can I Do To Prepare My Pets For The New Baby?

by : Shalene Chamings

Getting ready for a new family member is a busy, exciting time. In addition to all that you need to do to prepare for the new baby, there are a few things you can do to make the transition easier for your pets. Most pets accept a new baby with no problem. But, if you want to be extra careful, you can begin to prepare them ahead of time for the big event.

First, make sure your pets are up-to-date with veterinary checkups and vaccinations, since you may not have time for such things in the first few months after the baby’s birth. Give your pets plenty of special attention. Play with your cats and dogs on a regular basis; exercise helps them to relax, and it relieves stress for the whole family. If you have a dog, consider taking him or her in for a training refresher course. Find a trainer who uses positive reinforcement. A trainer who has experience with babies and children is ideal, since he or she can design a training, exercise, and safety plan for your family. It will save you a lot of time and frustration when you are busy with the baby if your dog knows key commands, such as “drop it," “leave it," “wait," and “down/stay." Make sure you practice the commands daily with your dog.

Both cats and dogs can benefit from familiarity with babies before you bring your new one home. Invite friends over who have babies and small children. Watch your animals closely to see how they react. If your pets seem unduly frightened, you might want to seek help from a behaviorist; your veterinarian may be able to refer you to someone. Never, ever leave a baby or child unsupervised with the animals. Start using baby products such as lotion, bath soap, powder, and laundry soap. If you and the rest of the family smell like baby products, the baby will have a familiar smell when he or she arrives.

Set up the baby’s room as soon as possible, so your animals will accept the new arrangement long before the baby comes home. A screen door can be very helpful to keep cats and dogs away from the sleeping baby. You can practice going into the room and reading aloud or talking in tones you will use with the baby. The animals will learn to wait (probably at the door) for your return.