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  • Writer's pictureCaméa Allen

Bundle of Joy: Preparing Your Pet For Baby

The coo of a newborn is music to a family's ears. Amidst the excitement, it's important to remember that bringing home a baby is a massive change for our pets. Thankfully, a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring a smooth transition for everyone. We know many of you are expecting a baby or planning to expand your family. We are, therefore, sharing our top tips for successfully adding a human baby to the pack in this week's blog, Bundle of Joy: Preparing Your Pet for Baby.

Preparing Your Pet For Baby: Before Baby's Arrival

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Pregnancy can go as long as 42 weeks, which means you have plenty of time to start taking your pet into account as you prepare for baby. Keeping in mind that our pets are creatures of habit and notice even the slightest change in their environment, we urge you to start prepping your pet for their new human sibling as early into your pregnancy or adoption process as possible.

Preparing Your Pet For Baby: Preparation

Gradually adapting to change is key therefore consider the following steps to ensure smooth sailing;

  • Set the Stage: Set up the nursery long before the baby arrives. This way your pet is accustomed to any furniture and decor changes long before baby makes an appearance.

  • Socialize to Sound:  Newborns are noisy! Socialize your pet to typical baby noises by playing recordings of babies crying, cooing, and gurgling at a low volume. Pair these sounds with treats to create a positive association.

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  • Brush Up on Your Pet's Manners:  Solid obedience training makes life easier with a baby. Brush up on basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "leave it."

  • Set Boundaries and Create Safe Spaces:  Establish designated pet-free zones like the crib or changing area. Create a cozy "safe space" for your pet to retreat to when they need a break - this will be especially helpful during the curious toddler stage but don't wait, set it up now.

  • Play With Dolls:  Use a life-sized doll to simulate holding and interacting with a baby. Practice basic baby care tasks like diapering with the doll while your pet observes. Reward calm behavior with praise and treats. Consider adding baby sounds once your pet is accustomed to and comfortable in the doll's presence.

  • Practice Leash Manners:  If you have a dog, practice leash walking and greeting visitors politely. This will help manage them when meeting the baby and guests who come to see the new arrival. If possible, take along your stroller so your dog gets used to walking with it next to him.

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  • Consider a Pet Trainer: A professional animal behaviorist or trainer can offer personalized advice based on your pet's specific needs, especially if your pet is easily startled, skittish, or has a bite history.

  • Schedule Dog Walks & Playtime: Starting around the baby's due date, consider scheduling Hearts at Home to come over and walk your dog(s) or engage with your cat(s.) As new parents, most pet parents have a hard time adjusting to the high-needs of a newborn and can't keep up with their pets' needs. You don't have to do it alone - let us help keep your pet family entertained while you figure out where all the diapers went.

Preparing Your Pet For Baby: The Big Day & Beyond

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If you follow the above suggestions, your pets will be prepared for your new addition once it's time to bring him or her home. That said, you'll have to be strategic about introductions.

  • Scent Introduction:  Dogs and cats rely heavily on smell. If possible, ask a friend or family member to bring a blanket home that has been with the baby. Let your pet sniff and get familiar with this scent before your baby comes through the door.

  • Controlled Introductions:  Keep the first interaction brief and positive. Instead of letting your pet tower over your baby in a car seat or stroller, hold the baby in your arms and let your pet come to you. If the sniffing gets a little too strong, gently walk away from the pet and try again later.

  • Safety First: Never leave baby and your pet unsupervised in the same area. Because babies crying may sound like a prey animal, your pet may be confused and needs your guidance during every interaction.

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  • Routine:  Try to keep your pet's routine as consistent as possible, including walks, playtime, and feeding schedules.

  • Needs:  Don't neglect your pet! Even with a new baby, dedicate time for walks, cuddles, and playtime. While your attention will inevitably be elsewhere, your pet still needs you or another human to care for them. Learn your dog's hierarchy of needs here; cats here.

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Adjustments take time. Be patient with your pet(s) as they learn to co-exist with your new bundle of joy. By preparing your pet for the arrival of your little one, you can create a harmonious home environment where everyone feels safe and loved. Remember, a happy and adjusted pet makes for a happier family overall.

At Hearts at Home, we offer in-home dog walking and pet sitting services in Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia. To register your pet(s) with us, please complete a new client questionnaire here. Existing clients may request services here.

Please visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868 to learn more. We thank you for your commitment to pest-prevention!

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