By Cindy Driscoll
When you’ve got baby on the brain, it’s easy to let nursery planning, baby names and parenting preparations consume your every thought.
However, don’t forget the first baby in your life — your precious pet. There are many steps you can and should take to help prepare your dog or cat for the arrival of your new little one. Start before you even conceive, as advanced preparations allow you to have a smooth transition once you bring your newborn baby home.
Start preparing your home before you even get out the ovulation calendar or start buying pregnancy tests.
Design a comfortable, private and relaxing space where your pet will want to go when it feels tired, anxious or over-stimulated by the new baby.
For a dog, consider placing a dog bed in a quiet corner of the home where the baby can’t reach it.
For a cat, a blanket or pillow can be placed in a separate room where it can seek peace and quiet it needs. Place a few pet toys and comfort items in the area, and reward your pet with treats when it seeks comfort in that area.
Invite Over Friends with Young Children and Babies
If your dog isn’t used to children approaching him or your cat isn’t familiar with the sounds of young babies, have a few friends over who are already parents to help prepare your animal.
The Humane Society claims that first-hand experience with infants and toddlers is one of the best ways to prepare your pet for the impending arrival of its younger sibling. Monitor the children and your animals at all times, and allow for a limited time frame for the visit. You won’t want to overwhelm your pet, and small steps will help them get more accustomed to the idea of a youngster in their home.
Allow Your Pet to Explore the Nursery
Once you have set up the nursery with furniture and toys, give your pet a chance to look around. Try not to make the nursery seem like a forbidden area; it could make your pet feel unwelcome in its own home.
If you do not plan on allowing your pet into the nursery, put a baby gate up immediately after it is complete. A baby gate allows your pet to see into the room but also sets the limits that are needed in order for your pet to understand that it is not a space they are allowed to be in.
Enroll Your Pet in a Training Program
During your pregnancy, enroll your dog in a training program. Petsmart offers training programs across the country that will teach your dog effective commands and introduce your pet to the concept of good behavior. Practice your new training skills every day at home, and always be consistent while teaching your pet new commands.
Introduce Your Pet to the Baby’s Scent
After your baby is born, you will more than likely spend a day or two in the hospital while you recover. During this time, the Humane Society recommends that you send your partner home with one of the baby’s blankets or hats. This will introduce your pet to the baby’s scent and allow them to become familiar with your new arrival before you bring the baby home.
Cindy adores being a mom and writing about how to raise environmentally conscious kids.