Many expecting parents worry about how their pet will cope with not being the center of attention and deal with the baby. But working with your pet on some new training, planning ahead and lots of patience can make for an easier transition for you, your pet and new baby as your family grows.
And, in addition to the joy of growing up with a pet, researchers found that babies who grew up with pets in the home, dog or cat, are less likely to become sick than children who live without a pet in the home. Research has linked the presence of pets with a lower risk of allergies among babies. Researchers found that babies who grew up in homes with pets were 44% less likely to develop an ear infection and 29% less likely to receive antibiotics, compared with pet-free babies. Kids living in homes with such dogs were illness-free 73% of the time, whereas children living in homes without pets were healthy only about 65% of the time.
So, here are some things you need to know to ease your pet's stress, help her welcome your new baby, and ensure that your pet remains with your growing family.
Because your new baby will demand a lot of your time and energy, gradually get your pet accustomed to spending less time with you.
If your pet is particularly attached to the mother-to-be, another family member should develop a closer relationship with the animal so your pet will still feel loved and provided for while mom is busy with the baby.
Be sure to take your pet to the veterinarian for a routine health exam and necessary vaccinations. If you have not already do so, spay or neuter your pet. Sterilized pets typically have fewer health problems associated with their reproductive systems and are calmer and less likely to bite.
Train your pet to remain calmly on the floor beside you until you invite him on your lap, which will soon cradle a newborn. Consider enrolling in a training class with your dog, and practice training techniques.
Get your pet accustomed to baby-related noises. Prior to the baby’s arrival you can play recordings of a baby crying, turn on the mechanical infant swing, and use the rocking chair.
If the baby's room will be off-limits to your pet, install a sturdy barrier such as a removable gate or screen. Having barriers that still allow your pet to see and hear what's happening in the room, will lessen their feeling of isolation.
You can also use baby doll to help your pet get used to the real thing. Do activities that you will perform with the baby, including putting the doll in the stroller when you walk your dog, and use the doll to get your pet used to routine baby activities, such as bathing and diaper changing.
To get your dog used to new smells, you can sprinkle baby powder or baby oil on your skin.
Be sure to reward your pet with treats for appropriate behavior so they associate the baby with positive experiences.
Try to maintain regular routines. This will help ease your pet’s anxiety and help them feel like things are normal.
Make sure to spend one-on-one quality time with your pet each day so they don’t feel neglected.