Saturday, 21 November 2009
Recently a good friend of mine gave birth to two beautiful and healthy twin girls. After I found out she was pregnant I was so excited and curious about every step of the pregnancy. As weeks turned into months and my friend’s belly grew bigger the idea of having two living breathing baby girls with us became more and more of a reality. I began to wonder how their household pets, 2 cats and a large Golden Retriever would fare once the babies arrived. The pets had been the babies for so long and I was a little worried about how they would react when the two girls were brought home from the hospital for the first time.
Pets and babies can coexist happily if the parents just take a few precautionary steps before and after the birth of baby. Fortunately my friend’s pets are all lovely and well-behaved but if there are behavioral issues with any of the animals that will be around the new baby it is best to address them before the child comes home. Go over basic discipline commands with your dog(s) prior to the birth of the baby to prevent any problems later on. It is better to take care of this stuff before you are too tired and busy to!
One of the first things my friend did when she got her bassinet was to spread out foil where the babies would lie. If the curious cats were to jump in the bassinet they would likely be frightened by the noise of the foil and would steer clear of it in the future. My cat seems to love foil so I am unsure this trick would work in my house but it seemed to work for them.
My friend also made sure that when she and her husband came home from the hospital that they introduced the animals to the girls very slowly. It is often best to keep the pets and babies separated for the first few days home. By doing this the animals will get a chance to hear and smell the babies and get use to new lives being in the home. It is also a good idea to take a blanket with baby’s scent on it and give it to the pets to smell. Again this will help the pets get use to and familiar with the smell of the new baby.
This last bit of advice may seem difficult especially when you are not getting much sleep and feel as if you do not even have time for you but it is very important to make sure that you have special time for your pets as well. Giving your pets enough of attention will let them know that you still love them and any behavioral problems that could stem out of jealousy will be nipped in the bud.
Always supervise animals and babies when they are together. Animals may have good intentions but do not realize that they may be hurting baby. The family I nanny for, for instance, has a tiny dog that loves the kids but sometimes he tries to sit on the 4-month-old! The dog has no intentions of hurting baby he just wants to be as close as possible. So again it is best to supervise any interactions between baby and pet.
How did you prepare your pet(s) for a new baby? Have you had any problems with pet(s) and baby?