Animal shelter workers report that many people who surrender their pets cite a new baby as their reason for doing so. Yet many other families have successfully brought a new baby into their home and managed to keep and enjoy their animal friends.
Mixing pets and children
Experts suggest that preparing for the baby’s arrival well in advance and taking a few simple precautions can avoid friction and jealousy between your human baby and your furry one.
Remember, your four-footed children are accustomed to your undivided attention and pampering, so some jealousy will naturally surface when your new infant suddenly consumes all of your time.
Plan to set aside a few minutes each day for special quality time with your pet. Some extra attention and a few treats can go a long way towards avoiding behaviour problems and jealousy.
Dogs and cats are largely creatures of habit. Though your own routine will be completely disrupted by the new baby, try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible. If you anticipate changes in that routine, such as restricting their access to the baby’s room or feeding in a new location, begin implementing the changes as soon as possible before the infant comes home. Animals, like humans, find comfort in routine, so having an established pattern on which to fall back will help combat the insecurity your pet will naturally feel during the first few weeks after baby’s arrival.
Along the same lines, allow your pet to get used to some of the new baby smells before you bring your infant home. Apply baby lotion or powder to your hands, for example, and allow your pet to sniff baby’s clothes and blankets.
If possible, allow him to investigate an article of clothing worn by the new baby before the child arrives home from the hospital. Animals rely heavily on their sense of smell, so familiarity with the baby’s smell will help your pet recognise him as part of the family when he comes home.
When you finally arrive home with the baby, greet your pet happily and tell him how much you missed him. Gently introduce him to the baby so he can get a good look at the new family member. From that point forward, include him in as many baby activities as possible. Even saying his name while you are changing nappies or feeding your infant will make your pet feel like an important part of this new life.
Most bad behaviour exhibited by pets after a new baby’s arrival stems from jealousy and neglect. By paying special attention to your pet, preparing him in advance, and including him as much as possible after baby comes home, you can avoid such problems and ensure a harmonious household.
For more information visit www.RollerCoaster.ie, Ireland’s no 1 website for parents.