Preparing Your Pets for the New Baby

Sibling rivalry isn’t just for the kids anymore… your pets may have a difficult time adjusting to a new baby in the house!

We recently had a thread in the Pets Forum, wondering about how to introduce the family cats to the new child. To quote the author: “I have heard people suggest that we decrease our attention of the cats before the baby comes, but I’m hoping there is another way.”

I’m actually going to suggest the exact opposite. You don’t want to give your family pets less attention; in fact, you may want to give them a different sort of attention.

  1. If you are a dog owner, you should consider taking an obedience course with your dog before the baby is born. It will give you a chance to bond with your dog, but more importantly, your dog will know commands like SIT, STAY, and DOWN. These will be very useful to you.
  2. Help your pets get used to the sights and sounds of the new baby. Use that rocking chair, run the mechanical swing, you can even play recorded baby noises! Talk to your pets about the baby, and if you’ve picked out a name in advance, use the baby’s name. You can also help your pets get used to the new smells — put baby powder on your skin, or use the same soap on yourself that you will on the baby.
  3. Before the baby comes home from the hospital, bring something that smells like your child for your pets to sniff. And don’t be alarmed if your pet chooses to chew on whatever you bring them — it doesn’t mean they are going to eat the baby!
  4. Even if you don’t want your pets in the baby’s room, make sure they are able to see what is going on. Install a gate to keep the dogs out, or a screen door.
  5. Try to keep your pets calm around the baby. Reward good behavior with treats — this will teach your pets that being around the baby is a good thing, and being good to the baby is a better thing!
  6. Try to maintain regular routines, and try to schedule some quality time with your pets every day. Dogs are often more needy in this respect than cats, but you don’t want any of your furry family members to feel left out!

Marjorie also had some important things to note specifically about cats and babies — take a look!