Preparing your First-born Fur Babies to meet your Newborn

Congratulations on the arrival of your new human bundle of joy! While this is an incredibly special and exciting time, babies bring with them a plethora of responsibilities which deem making several adjustments to your life a necessity. However, it’s not only you and your human family members who need to prepare themselves for this new chapter, your fur children do too! To make this transition as stress-free for everyone involved, here are a few insightful tips:

Plan Prior to Baby’s Arrival

As a responsible pet guardian your pet’s health must be a top priority. However, in the months leading up to the baby’s arrival you may want to book an appointment with your veterinarian to prepare your furry friend for the new addition to the household. Doing so is important for the following reasons:

  • A trip to the vet will allow your pet friend to undergo a complete physical examination and get vaccinated, if required.
  • Based on your pet’s current condition, the vet may recommend a spaying or neutering to help any impending behavioural issues such as aggression and biting which you surely want to avoid around your baby.
  • If you would like to seek professional advice about how to facilitate the interaction between your baby and your furry amigo, chatting to your vet is the way to go.

Apart from a visit to the vet, you should also prepare a training schedule for your pet on your own or with the help of a trainer to encourage positive habits and basic manners such as sitting down, waiting, remaining calm, responding to their name or settling in a crate. These habits are intended to encourage a safe interaction between your loyal companion and the baby, thereby putting your mind at ease.

Prepare your Fur Child

Mentally prepare your furry friend for the expected arrival of your small human by:

  • introducing them to baby-related noises such as toys, swings and even crying
  • applying baby powder or oil to your skin so they become accustomed to the new smells associated with the baby
  • inviting friends and family with infants to come over for a social gathering and supervise the interactions between their babies and your pet
  • using a doll to perform routine baby activities in front of your pet so they gradually acclimatise to those impending routine changes, rather than feeling neglected and distressed when the real-life baby comes home
  • accustoming your pet to an entirely new routine as the newborn will claim a lot of your time and physical as well as emotional energy. To prevent any stress and anxiety on your pet’s part, slowly get them used to spending less concentrated time with you
  • encouraging them to develop a closer bond with another family member so they still feel as adored and cherished while Mom is occupied with baby care activities
  • arranging for your pet to be properly taken care of ahead of time while you’re spending a few days in hospital for the birth of your baby. This could be a friend or family member who your pet is familiar with or a reputable pet-sitter. It’s essential that they are not left to their own devices and made to feel abandoned at any stage of this transition.

Bringing Baby Home

It’s totally natural to feel exhausted, overwhelmed and emotional after bringing your newborn home from the hospital so you want your pet’s first impression of baby to go off smoothly by:

  • asking your partner, friend or family member to bring an item (such as a fluffy toy or blanket) home from the hospital with the baby’s scent on it for your pet to delve into. This will familiarise them with the baby’s scent so that by the time baby arrives home, they can recognise the associated smell, without any related stress or uncertainty
  • giving your fur baby your undivided attention when they welcome you home from the hospital. During this special reunion, have someone take baby into another room so you can be alone and rekindle your precious bond with your fur child.

The Introduction

The best way to introduce your fur darling to their new sibling is to let their first meeting happen calmly in a quiet room…

slowly encourage your fur baby into the room where your newborn is, while someone gently leads them in on a leash

  • invite them to say hello to the baby
  • initially, brief interactions will suffice until such a time that your pet’s curiosity dwindles. If your pet seems disinterested or nervous, don’t force the baby onto them as this may create negative associations with the humanlet
  • use reassuring, soothing tones and reinforce favourable behaviour with treats or words of affirmation and gentle strokes

Daily Reminders

Remember, you want your fur baby to associate your human baby with positive things, not with your displeasure or stress. To do this:

  • Make a concerted effort to avoid reprimanding, disregarding or isolating your pet.
  • Keep to a regular daily schedule and make sure to fit in some quality time with just you and your pet.
  • Ensure that your baby’s crib is secure and present in a room where the pet cannot access it directly.
  • If your pet won’t be allowed into the baby’s room, install a transparent portable gate or screen door at the entrance of the room. This barrier is a great way to include your pet in the nursery activities as they can still see, hear and smell what’s going on, without feeling left out.

Be patient and understanding as this is all very new to your fuzz babe and they will need your constant reassurance that they still have a special place in their home and in your heart. They need to be included entirely in this adjustment period, so they have every opportunity to engage with and form a bond with the new arrival. In due time your fur child will not only become increasingly comfortable with but will accept the new little bundle as a member of their family pack, showering your baby with the same – if not more – protection, affection and love as they do you.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

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Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.

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Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.