Introducing a new baby to
Just for a moment,
imagine your pregnancy and delivery from your cat or dog’s point of view. His
beloved owner gets sick a lot, gains weight, re-decorates one room of the house,
then suddenly disappears for 1-2 days after hours of intense pain. Talk about a
stressed out and confused animal! He has no idea what is happening! Our pets are
extremely sensitive to the actions and emotions of the humans they live with. So
what can be done to smooth this transition?
New sights: Prepare the
nursery as early as possible, and give your pet a chance to explore the new
furniture and surroundings. Decide when your pet will be allowed in the nursery
and be consistent about these new routines. Many moms recommend installing a
screen door on the nursery so that you can see and hear the baby, while keeping
the family pets out of the room. Never let a cat sleep in the crib or next to an
infant that cannot raise herself up and turn her head. Cats love to sleep near
or on any warm body, and could cut off the baby’s breathing if the cat is
right near her face.
New smells: Apply baby
lotion and baby powder on yourself to get your pet accustomed to the new scents.
If there is time between the delivery and the baby coming home, have a family
member bring home a blanket with the baby's scent on it.
New sounds: Play
children's TV shows that feature the cries of babies and toddlers, or invite a
friend over with their new baby. Your pet may first be alarmed at the sounds
coming out of this strange creature, but will soon come over to investigate.
Coming home: When you bring your baby home from the hospital, please be sure to
hug your pet and make a fuss over him. The last time he saw you, you were
doubled over in pain, and he is probably just relieved to see you are still
alive. Like an older sibling, there might be some jealousy at first, urinating
in inappropriate places, chewing or scratching on furniture, or not eating. He
is trying to tell you something! He feels left out and ignored. Many animals end
up at their local shelter within days of a new baby’s birth, but some love and
attention can go a long way at remedying the situation.
Try to find a small amount of time each day to groom or pet him, or take him for
a walk. Stick to his old schedule of feedings and walks, if possible, to give
him a sense of security. There is no better companion during those late night
feedings than a purring cat on the back of your chair or a dog snuggled close
by. All he wants is to have a role in your family and a place in your heart.