The arrival of a new baby is one of the most exciting and treasured times in life, but if you’re already a pet parent, your four-legged (or winged) family member may or may not share your joy.
Whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit, parakeet, or bearded dragon lizard, your pet is probably used to occupying the number one spot in your life and the transition of bringing home a new baby can be a challenge for everyone.
Your team at Paws, Purrs, and Exotics knows that introducing a pet and new baby can be tricky, but with plenty of preparation and lots of patience and empathy, it’s possible to pave the way for a beautiful and harmonious relationship.
Pets of all species enjoy being the center of their human’s world, and the introduction of a new family member can be a challenge. Careful planning is needed to ease jealousy and, hopefully, to create a beautiful bond between animal and child.
- Dogs should have a good grasp of basic obedience commands and manners. Having good verbal control over your dog will come in handy when you’re hands are full juggling the needs of an infant. It also helps if cats are trained not to jump up on counters, diaper changing areas, crib, etc.
- Dogs, cats, birds, and pocket pets are creatures of habit, and changes in the daily schedule can be quite disruptive. If you know your pet’s routine will change once baby is born, do your best to begin those changes gradually, well in advance of baby’s arrival.
- Play recordings of a baby crying to get your pet used to the new sounds they will soon be hearing – offer them treats or praise during the recording to create a positive association.
- For the safety of your newborn, bring your pet in to see us for a checkup to ensure that they are healthy and up-to-date on vaccines and parasites.
- Remember that animals aren’t sterile, and they will naturally introduce a certain amount of bacteria into your home. For the most part, a newborn’s immune system can handle the bacterial load of a family pet, but it’s best to keep reptiles in a separate room as they may harbor Salmonella or other potentially dangerous bacteria. Always wash your hands after interacting with your pet and before touching your newborn.
Introducing A Pet and New Baby
When the time comes to bring baby home, follow our tips for a smooth introduction:
- The day before your baby comes home, have someone bring a blanket or a piece of clothing the baby wore home for your pet to smell.
- If possible, enter your home without the baby first, so you can give your pet some individual attention.
- Have another adult help with your pet as you bring the baby inside. Your pet should be asked to sit or otherwise kept calm.
- At your own pace, you can allow your pet to safely investigate the baby while you hold him or her. We recommend allowing a relaxed and happy dog or cat to smell the baby’s food while another adult is right there to help.
- Continue to pay attention to your pet, offering praise, etc, while you’re holding the baby. This helps to create a positive association in your pet’s mind with your newest family member.
An Important Reminder
No matter how sweet and gentle your pet is, or how much you trust them, it’s important to always supervise any interaction between your pet and new baby. This goes for exotic and pocket pets as well, who may hurt or could be hurt unintentionally by an infant. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our staff. Congratulations on your new addition!