Nowadays, the first “baby” for many couples would probably be their fur child(ren) and it is very likely they know it too. What happens when you got two positive lines on the pregnancy test and see the first glimpse of your baby from the ultrasound?
First and foremost, congratulations to the newest addition to your family! The next thing is to break the good news to your family members – which also includes your first “baby”. Unlike us, your furbaby will not be able to grasp that there will be a drastic change in the home upon the arrival of your child as routines and lifestyle will change and that will confuse your furbaby.
Preparation is key for both you and your furbaby as both of you will need to learn how to juggle the attention of your newborn and your furbaby. So, it will be best not to wait until your baby arrives home but to start while you’re pregnant to initiate changes to get your furbaby used to a new schedule and lifestyle.
That said, here how are ways you can start to prepare your furbaby for the arrival of your baby:
Make a Plan
Whether your furbaby is a dog or a cat, the initial step you should do is to plan. Both dogs and cats can exhibit jealousy when they are not the centre of attention and may become temperamental and struggle with drastic changes.
Hence, you’d want to use pregnancy months to prepare your furbaby for the arrival of your baby. It is recommended to enroll your dog in basic obedience classes and to relocate your cat’s litter box to a more private area in your home.
At the same time, it is advisable to set up the nursery furniture as soon as possible as it will give your pets some time to investigate before you make the furniture off-limits to them.
Introducing Common Baby Sounds and Smells to Your Furbaby
We all know that newborns are noisy as the only way they can convey their discomfort, hunger, sadness or exhaustion is by crying. However, your furbaby could be overwhelmed, become distressed, frustrated, and agitated with the added commotion as they are not able to comprehend the situation.
To avoid such a situation, it is recommended to introduce common sounds and smells of a baby to your pet prior to the arrival of your baby.
Try using recordings of baby sounds and associate them with giving them treats as it will help your furbaby to associate the sounds as something welcoming rather than to be scared or be agitated by the noise.
Shifting Routines and Pet Care Responsibilities
Change is inevitable when your newborn arrives for you and your pets. This would mean the duration of daily walks could be reduced, the timing for feedings and playtime would also be affected. And if you’re the primary caregiver to your newborn, it is recommended to relegate these duties to a loved one or spouse.
However, do take note to make these changes gradually so that your furbaby won’t associate the changes with your baby. For example, you could bring the empty stroller together with you and your dog so it can get accustomed to the new system.
Establishing New Rules
It is essential to enforce boundaries in place before the birth of your baby as this will help to prevent your furbaby to resent your newborn. Additionally, it is easier to do so in advance when you are not in an emotional, sleep-deprived state.
So, if you do not want your furbaby to be on the bed or other furniture when your baby arrives, start introducing the restrictions now. This also includes sleeping arrangements, if your furbaby sleeps in your bed or room and you want to change that, it is essential to start making these changes as soon as possible.
Identifying Your Baby Smell
One of the most popular ways to introduce your furbaby to your newborn is by bringing home your baby’s first blanket or onesie. This will help your furbaby to be familiar with the baby’s scent before their first introduction/interaction.
So, with all the preparation done over the course of your pregnancy, the next step is to bring home your newborn and to introduce him/her to your furbaby What do you do then?
Here’s what you can do:
Introduce Your New-born Slowly and On Your Pet’s Term
Upon arriving home with your newborn, you would be excited to introduce your furbaby to the newest member of the family, however, it is recommended you wait for a few minutes.
When you return home from the hospital, greet your furbaby as you would usually do as it will help keep dogs, especially, from pouncing and calm them down. And after you have greeted them and allowed them to calm down, then it will be the best time to let your furbaby meet your baby.
The meeting should be still done slowly, with caution and care. Always keep your newborn in your arms at all times and have another family member handle the dog or cat, and respect your furbaby’s boundaries.
Observe if your furbaby appears to be irritated or anxious, if so, give them space and try again a few days later.
At the same time, never leave your infant or small child unattended with your pet regardless of their temperament as many things can go wrong where either your baby or furbaby could get hurt.
Thus, you’d need to supervise all interaction and if needed, intervene and provide a safe space for your furbaby. Forcing an interaction may lead to scratches or bites. If possible, keep your dog on a short leash for the first few days when it is familiarizing with your newborn.
Understandably, this may be overwhelming – in fact, it is, having to juggle caring for your newborn and furbaby at the same time is not an easy task. However, with preparation in place and having a lot of patience, certainly you, your baby, and furbaby will all get along well in no time.
Photo Credit: Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels ; Photo by Sarah Chai from Pexels ; Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels