As a pet parent, you probably already know how exciting it is to welcome a new addition into your family. But what about when it comes to successfully uniting your fur baby with the little one that’s on the way? For starters, don’t panic!
Preparation is key in keeping your new baby and pets safe during introductions. There are a few substantial ways to prepare your home, pets, and self before the baby arrives, and doing so will ensure everyone is cared for and protected through these big life changes.
Create a Safe Space in Your Home
Safety needs to be your number one priority for everyone within your home. Creating a designated space for both your pets and your baby is going to be a critical factor in keeping everyone healthy and happy. This is typically only necessary for cats and dogs, as other smaller animals that may be kept in a cage are already contained and do not require an additional space outside of their enclosure.
Your newborn’s nursery or playroom is the perfect place for the baby to have a quiet space that is all their own. You can utilize baby gates or simply keep the door to this room closed and dedicate it to being a pet-free area. This is a space where your baby can be kept safe and away from pets when you cannot closely monitor their interactions.
You will also want to consider babyproofing this space as an additional layer of protection. Baby proofing includes removing choking hazards, blocking outlets, etc. in order to reduce the risk of any accidents happening inside your home. While babyproofing and creating a dedicated pet-free zone for your baby are all great ways to protect everyone, accidents can still happen, especially as your child becomes more mobile. It is smart to have a plan in place to handle these emergencies if and when they do occur.
Put Together a Plan for Emergencies
Your emergency plan should consist of two parts. The first in the event of an emergency with your baby and the second for any pet emergencies that may arise. Mild injuries to your child such as cuts and scrapes can be taken care of with a first aid kit. For pets, you should always keep a pet-specific first aid kit on hand to deal with any mild injuries to them.
Your next step should be to identify the nearest emergency room for your baby and the nearest pet hospital for your animals. These will both be crucial in the event of an emergency and you will not want to waste time researching these places at the time of an incident. Keep a list of their addresses and phone numbers for easy access to ensure no time is wasted in seeking medical care for both your baby and your pets.
The last thing to consider is the financial aspect of these emergencies. Because you have little control over accidents happening, it is wise to budget for them in order to prevent being slammed with huge medical bills you may not be able to afford. Insurance is a tool that you should utilize not only for your child but also for animals. The added layer of financial security can help alleviate some stressors that come with medical emergencies, so take some time now and consider “is pet health insurance worth it”? It just may be the determining factor in getting the medical care your pet needs without putting you in debt.
Prepare Your Pet for Their Arrival
There are a few different ways you can prepare your pet for your baby’s arrival, however, they likely can sense it on their own. You may have noticed throughout your pregnancy that your dog or cat has become more cuddly and spends more time around you. It is believed that pets can sense a change in your smell due to the shift in hormones that occurs when you’re pregnant.
One way you can help get your dog or cat ready for the arrival of your baby is by setting up the nursery well in advance. This is a big change for your pets but giving them time with that space before the baby arrives is crucial in getting them acclimated to the new environment.
Once your baby makes its arrival into the world you will want to first introduce your dog or cat to an item that has the baby’s scent on it. This can be a blanket or an article of clothing that your baby has used or worn over the past day or two. Let your pet spend some time with the item so that they can familiarize themselves with its smell. This will be a critical step to your pet meeting your new baby.
Host Short & Frequent Introductions
Your first introduction can be done so shortly after bringing the baby home. First, give your pet some time to say hi to just you and your spouse since they likely haven’t seen you in a few days. After they’ve had some time to calm down it is okay to introduce them to your pets. They may be overwhelmed by this change and it can be a lot for them to take in so be sure to take it slow.
A leash is a great tool to ensure everyone’s safety during the first couple of introductions. This will give you control over your pet while still allowing them to smell and explore. Keep your first introduction short and sweet. They will begin to recognize the baby’s smell and become more comfortable with them as time goes on. Breaks will be important throughout this process for both the baby and your pet and be sure to take note of how each of them is feeling with this big change.
Supervise All Interactions
Going forward you have to supervise all interactions until your pets and baby have had plenty of time to acclimate to the new environment. This will keep both parties safe and will prevent many accidents from happening. Taking your eyes off them for just a few short seconds can be life-changing and isn’t worth the risk. If there is a time when you need to step away you can utilize the safe spaces that you have already created to ensure nobody is harmed or injured.
Dedicate 1:1 Time to Both Baby & Pets
One-on-one time is going to be very important for both your baby and your pets moving forward. Everyone is going to need attention and in the beginning, your baby is going to need most of it. Don’t forget to set aside time with your dogs or cats to play with them or take them on walks. This will keep the relationships between everyone in your family in good standing and will avoid any resentment or neglect your pet may initially feel upon the baby’s arrival.
The best thing you can do when welcoming a new member of the family into your home is to prepare well in advance and to have patients. Some animals adjust super quickly and others may not so be sure to read how your pet is feeling and do everything in your power to keep everyone safe!