Preparing Your Pets for a New Baby

May 29, 2020

Family Birthplace

dog and cat playing in grass

Bringing your baby home is a magical moment for your growing family. But for many of us with pets, it can also be a little nerve-wracking – how will our pet respond to our new little bundle of joy?

It’s important to start on the right foot between our new baby and our fur babies. Take worry out of the equation by following some of the tips.

Tammy Narup, RN, coordinator of Childbirth Education
  • Train your pet. Puppies and kittens are still learning their “normal,” so make sure to reinforce obedience early and often. Many training facilities might be closed during the current health crisis, but trainers are offering video classes and virtual training consultations. Older dogs and cats can be a little trickier to re-train, but start early to reinforce good habits – ideally, as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
  • Set up baby items. Cribs, bassinets and high chairs are all brand-new to your pet. By setting up these items early, you give your pet plenty of time to acclimate to their new surroundings. Get a doll for you to carry around and have the doll use the baby items. Additionally, keep an eye out for pets jumping on – or in – the new baby furniture. Experts suggest temporarily adding aluminum foil to a bassinet or crib to prevent your pet from jumping into it.
  • Keep the attention consistent. Many of us want to lavish our pets with extra care before the baby is born, but that can be a big mistake. Your pet will get used to that extra attention and can feel displaced when the new baby arrives. Keep your attention consistent on your furry friend – and prepare to sustain that once your little one joins you at home.
  • Be COVID-19 aware. We have limited data on pets and COVID-19. Experts agree that pets are not at high risk for exposure; however, pets can carry the virus from one person to another if someone in their household is infected. Try to limit your pet’s exposure to others, especially when outside on walks. Also, wash your hands before and after contact with your pet.
  • Start setting boundaries. If your pet always sleeps in your bed with you, now is the time to figure out if that is sustainable once the baby arrives. Perhaps purchasing a comfortable new dog bed will entice your pet to sleep on the floor in your room instead of with you. You know your pet best, so set boundaries accordingly. Make sure to think through the logistics of the middle-of-the-night feedings and your pet as well.
  • Get the scent. Once your little one arrives, have the baby wear a hat or onesie and then send it home with a loved one. Your pet can get used to the baby’s scent before you arrive home from the hospital.

Once you arrive home with baby:

  • Your spouse/partner should go inside first and give the pet a few minutes of attention. Then, they should head back outside and hold the baby while mom goes into the house to give the pet attention.
  • Once the pet has received attention from both parents, it’s time to introduce your baby. Take it slow. If your pet gets too excited, remove the baby, not your pet.

Even though it’s difficult with a newborn, it’s important to try to keep your pet’s schedule as normal as possible. Keep your pet on a regular walking, eating and sleeping schedule – which will help you feel more like yourself as well.

Your Healthcare Partner

At Memorial Family Birthplace, we are here for you and your growing family. Please call any one of our offices for more help: