When you’re already a fur-mama and you’re about to become a baby-mama, one of the more stressful aspects is trying to ensure that your fur babies get along with your human one. When we brought Matthew home, we had two giant yellow labs. I wasn’t super worried about how they’d react, since they’re basically the dumbest, sweetest things on the planet, but I was concerned enough to still go through all the steps, especially since it had been just them and me for a few years with Ryan flying as much as he did in Washington.Part of what keeps me sane as a mama of two (almost three) boys and a dog (who is often just as much work as my kids) are my routines– both morning and night. I was worried about how how our babies and pups were going to work into a routine together and did a ton of research before Baby #1 to figure out how to make the transition as smooth as I could. Honestly, getting pets ready for a new baby isn’t complicated most of the time but it is important, especially if you have high-maintenance fur babies or ones that may not have been around kids.
If you’re anything like me, you love your pets like your babies, but you also recognize that they’re animals– they are unpredictable, hairy, sometimes energetic critters who can’t communicate to a baby that they’re not happy about whatever that child is doing to them. As a result, your goal has to be to prepare the animal for putting up with more than they usually would, even if you THINK you’ll always be watching. Babies are sneaky things, especially once they start moving, and you never know exactly how your pet is going to respond to the noise and stuff a baby brings with them when they join your family. Getting pets ready for a new baby doesn’t have to be expensive or complex, as you’ll see!
Getting Pets Ready for a New Baby
Set up baby’s things early!
The nursery is a given, but try to think about where you’re going to put that Mamaroo (an absolute must-have on my list), the play mat, the high chair, etc. and go ahead and set them up. Yes, it means your house is taken over by baby stuff a little sooner than necessary, but the more normal the baby items are, the less weird it’ll be for your dog or cat to see a baby in them.
Give your furbuddy a safe place ahead of time
While baby won’t be chasing him for a while, it’s important for your pet to have a place that’s quiet and tucked away with their favorite blanket, toys, a bed, and a water dish. Make it their own little retreat so that they can get away from the noise and chaos a baby brings (and make sure that once baby CAN follow your pet, you teach your pet’s new human that they don’t get to love on their furbrother or sister when they’re in their safe place).
Desensitize your dog or cat to touch (especially in places they may not prefer)
Start gently touching your pet on their feet, tails, ears, face, etc. Work up to being a little less gentle, as your kiddo won’t be anything close to it, so they get used to being touched in all of those areas and are less likely to be upset by it when your baby does it (even if they still aren’t thrilled). If they are less than pleased, add a treat while you do it (peanut butter in a bone, anyone?) so they associate it with happy times.
Send receiving blankets home from the hospital
We took a whole bunch of extra receiving blankets with us to the hospital and wrapped baby in a new one every time we changed his diaper. When we’d change the receiving blanket, we’d put it in a gallon size baggie and seal it so it kept baby’s scent. As my husband or parents went home to feed the pups, we’d send the blankets home, too, and have them put them in the crib, pack n play, Mamaroo, etc. so that our dogs could start getting used to the smell of baby.
Get help if you need it
Y’all, some pets are just not born family animals. That doesn’t mean they CAN’T be– it just means they might need a little extra love, attention, and training to get them that way. If you need help getting pets ready for a new baby, there are trainers who can teach them (and save your sanity) how to calm down and be sweet, loving fursiblings to your new little man or lady!