Few things are more exciting than getting ready to bring a new baby into your life. You may be rapidly checking off your to-do list if the time is growing near. And amidst all your planning, preparation, and taking good care of yourself, you may also be wondering how your pets will adjust to your new addition as well. 

To make this transition smooth for everyone, The Whole Pet Vet Hospital and Wellness Center has some ideas and tips for introducing your pets to your new baby. Pets are creatures of habit, so it makes sense to start as early as you can to get them acclimated to the idea of a new addition to their family.

Before Baby

Any changes in a pet’s routine may cause them some anxiety. So it’s smart to think about what your new routine will be, and help your pets get used to changes well before the baby comes. Consider:

  • Make gradual changes to your pet’s routine, from where he sleeps, to when he gets walks and exercise
  • Expose your pet to all things baby: from diapers, to a crib, to the stroller, letting your pet sniff and become familiar with your baby’s things will help her feel more comfortable and less anxious
  • Practice walking your dog with the stroller and brush up on basic obedience commands
  • Acclimate your pet to the smells and sounds of the baby’s routine before bringing baby home. This may include a simulated diaper change, naptime routine, and feeding routine, while including your pet.
  • Create a safe space for your pet, where either you can send her or she can retreat to. This might be her cushy bed, her cozy crate, or simply a special pet chair where she can feel safe and secure. 

First Impressions: Introducing Your Pets to Your New Baby

  • If you are having a birth outside your home, have someone bring home a hat or article of clothing your baby has worn in the birthing center or hospital. Let your pets sniff the hat so they can become familiar with the baby’s scent before she comes home
  • When you arrive home, come in by yourself at first and greet your pet while someone else brings the baby inside
  • Allow your pet to adjust gradually to the baby’s sight, smell, and sounds before formal introductions
  • After a few days or when your pet seems calm, let your pet sniff the baby while controlled (dogs on leash). Praise your pet for remaining calm
  • Once your pet is calm while restrained, allow her to sniff the baby while off leash. Watch for your pet’s reaction when the baby cries, kicks, or screams. For safety, keep the baby elevated and an adult between the pet and the baby
  • Always invite (never force) your pet to approach your baby

Next Steps to A Beautiful Friendship

Kids and pets go hand in hand, and with the right start, they can be best friends for life. A little planning and preparation goes a long way to making sure everyone is set up for success. Keep these tips in mind. 

  • Give your pet lots of attention while the baby is around. You don’t want your pet to associate anything negative with the baby. Give praise, pets, and treats when the baby is near to let your pet know good things happen when the baby is present. 
  • Baby toys look a lot like pet toys – never scold your pet for showing an interest in baby toys. Instead, simply give your pet an appropriate pet toy in exchange
  • Babies grow quickly, and it won’t be long before your new baby is reaching, grabbing, and crawling. Keep up with these changes to ensure your baby and your pet’s safety. 
  • Never leave a baby alone with even the most trusted pet

Your pet means the world to you, and your new baby does too, of course. Help ease the transition to a larger family for all of you, and watch a lifelong friendship between your baby and your pets bloom and grow. Call us along the way if you need help!