A puppy looking up at a baby

It’s been proven that children who grow up with animals have greater emotional intelligence, but they also gain constant companionship and a more active lifestyle. It may seem like the match between kids and pets is a natural one, but the connection can take a little work. This is especially true if a pet was adopted before the arrival of a little one crying, crawling, and scampering through the house.

If you are expecting a little bundle of joy, you might be wondering what the best way is to introduce your pet to your new baby. How will your pet react? You know your pet better than anyone, but in order to get the best possible result after the birth, a bit of preparation is the key.

Sights and Smells

The accumulation of new baby stuff goes with the territory of expecting. A crib, changing table, diapers, baby bathtub, and rocking chair are just the beginnings of the near-constant onslaught of gear and toys. Pets notice changes in their environment immediately and begin to sniff and scope out the new scenery.

Encourage this as much as possible to help create a positive association with the new baby’s stuff (and, by proxy, the new baby after birth). While you don’t want your pet to start napping in the baby’s crib, try to foster a sense of acceptance to the new items while upholding boundaries. That way, your pet will know to give the nursery and all things baby-related a wide berth.

Before Baby Comes Home

Your pet may have gotten used to a growing, kicking belly, or perhaps they approach it with general suspicion. It’s a fine line between wanting your pet to remain close to you and your belly and encouraging some distance to creep in.

Before you’re able to introduce your pet to your new baby, get them accustomed to the idea of a wriggling, crying bundle. If you know someone with an infant or toddler, invite them over and allow your pet to safely investigate. Not having any experience with children can be an eye-opener, especially if you thought your pet had social skills and good behavior.

Also, try to play baby sounds on CD to desensitize your pet to the future sounds of the household.

Breath Deep

After the birth, but before coming home, have someone bring some of the baby’s clothing to your pet. Allow them to breathe in the scent while giving praise, treats, or other rewards.

Ensure that your pet has been thoroughly exercised, so they’re not fully amped for your arrival. Stick to your pet’s routine as much as possible. Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to help with this, if necessary. It’s vital that your pet continues to rely on consistent meals and exercise opportunities in order to mitigate anxiety or stress.

Never force an interaction between your pet and your baby. Allow your pet time and space to figure out the new order.

Your Pet to Your New Baby

Introducing your pet to your new baby can be one of the greatest joys, and if everyone’s basic needs are met, you can truly cultivate a satisfying relationship. Be watchful for any signs of behavioral changes in your pet. It’s important to address negative behaviors promptly.

Please let us know if you have any concerns about introducing your pet to your new baby. A physical exam may be warranted to mitigate health or behavioral problems prior to your newborn’s arrival, and the Parkside Animal Hospital team is always here for you.