Pets should never feel displaced by the arrival of a new member of the family. If this happens, they will tend to act destructively, and an avoidable accident or misunderstanding could occur.
There are still many people who abandon their pets or try to rehome them when they learn that a new baby is coming. But they’re apparently unaware that pets can be great company for young children. And since first impressions are important, we’ll tell you how to introduce your baby to your pet.
Your pet knows that a baby is coming
The first fact that we must bear in mind is that your pet knows that there is a baby on the way. In fact, it is known that dogs can tell that a woman is pregnant before she can.
Animals are very observant and have a special sense of smell that humans lack. Both your dog and your cat know that there is a baby growing inside you. They smell the hormonal changes and they notice the body of a pregnant woman gradually changing.
Therefore, it’s not technically necessary to introduce the baby to your pet, since your pet already knows that there is going to be a new person in the house. However, it’s a good idea to take certain precautions so that the new living situation is good for everyone.
Changes when baby arrives
The arrival of a baby disrupts the life of their parents, but also that of the pets. Things change even before the baby is born. In the weeks before the birth, your pet will almost always have company at home, and maybe a lot of playtime and walks.
Then, overnight he will be left alone at home for long hours while the rest of his family is in the hospital. These kinds of changes can cause a lot of stress and behavioral problems, such as destructive behaviors or excessive barking.
To keep your pet from feeling lonely, it may be a good idea to ask a friend or someone in the family to visit him. If he’s a dog, someone has to take him out for a walk and to play, in addition to feeding and everything else.
Another piece of advice that is usually given is to implement new house rules before the baby is born. If your dog will not be allowed to enter a room, for example, teach him to stay out of it a couple of weeks in advance. This way, the changes will be gradual and easier to learn.
Precautions for introducing the baby to your pet
Even if your pet knows that a baby will soon be coming, that doesn’t mean you can be careless when doing introductions. Dogs and cats don’t want to harm a member of their family, but an accident can happen and should be prevented.
To make an introduction safely, keep in mind:
- Do the introduction at a quiet time, without exciting your pet. If he is nervous, accidents are more likely to happen.
- If your pet does not want to meet the baby, give him space. He already knows that there is a new member in the family; you don’t have to pressure him to come close.
Show your pet that he’s still important
With all the attention and time you will have to devote to the baby, it could be that the time you spend with your pet suffers. However, animals like their routines and love our attention.
Even if the baby demands a lot of time, make sure your pet doesn’t fall to the wayside. Play with your cat like you used to and don’t let your dog’s walks get too short. Seek help from friends or family who have time to offer.
With all pets, even if they’re not dogs or cats, the advice is the same: help them feel loved and important. If you fail at this point, it is likely that behavioral problems aimed at getting your attention will begin to appear. It’s better to give him what he needs before it turns into a fight.
Always with supervision
Even if your pet is loving with your baby and has welcomed him into the home (in his own way), remember that you should always supervise time they spend together. There may be accidents or misunderstandings between the two that could be preventable.
For example, many cats want to sleep next to babies, and sometimes sit on top of them or accidentally hit them with their tails. Something similar happens with dogs, who may want to approach the baby and could scratch or cover him with drool in seconds.
Even when the child grows up, always supervise his interactions with your pets — for the safety of all. Always keep an exit route open for your pet in case he finds it overwhelming. Make it a peaceful environment where he won’t jump or scratch out of excitement.
Animals know when there is a pregnancy and they recognize the new member of the family before they’re born. Still, when introducing your baby to your pet, don’t neglect safety measures and be sure to monitor interactions to avoid accidents or misunderstandings.