If your much-loved family pet has been the apple of your eye for years, it can come as quite a shock when a noisy new bundle bursts into the family home, creating havoc and stealing everyone’s attention.
Jealousy can creep in, with pets playing up and even posing a threat. So here are top tips for making sure the relationship between your new baby and the family pets is a happy one you can all enjoy safely for years to come.
At a glance
- Get them used to the sounds and smells of the baby before the arrival of your little one
- Give them lots of attention but keep to the usual routine
- Never leave them alone with your baby no matter how friendly they are
Blast those baby noises
Playing baby noises over the stereo will help your pets adjust before the baby arrives – the sound of a baby crying can be worrying for pets that haven’t heard it before. A baby noises playlist won’t be a chart topper and you might want to bring earplugs, but if it helps build harmony in the home...
Help them prepare
Bring out the cot and pram before your baby comes home so your pets can get used to having them around in their own time, before the happy chaos engulfs you all.
Ring the changes early
If you need to make important changes to your pet’s life, sneak them in before your baby arrives. That way, pets won’t associate the turmoil with the baby, and life will be a lot easier.
A riot of baby smells
Animals experience the world through their nose, so the explosion of smells from a newborn can be a bit weird and worrying at first. Help your pets adjust by introducing them to the baby’s smells before they meet - let them sniff a blanket or babygro you’ve brought from the hospital.
Make a fuss
When you bring your baby home for the first time, make a great big fuss of your pet like you normally would. Let dogs have a little look at the new arrival; but gently discourage any licking, pawing or jumping.
Give them attention
Even the gentlest of animals can feel a bit jealous when a baby arrives. So try to make time every day for some pet pampering - a few treats, a little grooming or just five minutes where they have your full attention.
Keep to the routine
OK so your routine’s gone out the window since the baby came along, but keeping things normal for your cat or dog will make things far more harmonious. Try to feed them the same time as before, in the same place, let them out in the garden if that’s what they’re used to and take them for their usual walk. These events are the highlight of their day and will give them some much-needed security.
Teach your dog to go and sit on a ‘day- bed’ (like a blanket or cushion) where they can relax out of harm’s way when you need to look after your baby. The bed should be in the same room as you, but away from where you’ll be busy with your baby.
Never leave them alone
The little noises that babies make and their uncoordinated wriggling actions can remind some dogs of other tiny animals, so it is vitally important you never leave dogs unattended with babies - no matter how safe and friendly they are.
Your pets and children all have a learning curve ahead of them, but with your help it can be fun and hugely rewarding. Handle it carefully, and in a few short years, your pets and children will no doubt be the very best of friends!
For more information on helping children and dogs get on, visit the RSPCA.