Bringing your new baby home is one of the most highly anticipated milestones for new parents. It is a day you look forward to from the moment you find out you are pregnant. It is also a day you spend nine months preparing for by setting up the nursery, stocking up on diapers, and making sure you have everything you need for your new little bundle.
With all this preparation going on, it is important to remember that not only is this a big life change for you, it is also a big life change for any pets you may have. Remembering to help your pup prepare for a new baby is arguably just as important as preparing yourself. The more prepared you are beforehand, the smoother and safer the transition to life with a new baby will be for the whole family.
There are several things you can do to help your pup get ready for a new baby both before your baby comes home and during the transition.
***DISCLAIMER*** I am in no way a professional and these are simply the things that worked best for me to introduce my pup to my daughter. If you have any concerns about introducing your pup to your new baby it is important to seek professional help.
Lets begin with the things you can do while baby is still in your belly.
Getting Set Up For Success
Once you bring your new baby home, there will be many new smells, noises, and activities in your home. These changes can be stressful for a pup when he receives them all at once when baby comes home. It is helpful to start introducing these changes into your routine slowly over the course of your pregnancy to help your pup adjust in a less stressful environment.
Things you can do slowly over time are:
- Play sounds of babies crying, cooing, and laughing at different times during the day and night.
- Bring out any baby toys or swings that have motion or noise and occasionally turn them on.
- Practice playing “house” with a fake baby; go through the motions of feeding, rocking, etc.
- Set up where baby will sleep or hang out so that your pup has time to get used to the new environment.
Doing these things before baby comes home will help your pup get used to the new routines at a slower pace. You want your pup to associate these new activities as positive. You can do this by giving them a treat or extra attention while these new activities are happening. This will go a long way later on in setting up a positive relationship between your pup and baby.
Another very important step to take before baby arrives is to teach your pup the difference between the baby’s toys and his. My pup, Riley, loves to tear apart stuffed animals and he is obsessed with anything that squeaks.
Unfortunately, baby toys and pet toys are very similar and I had to spend time showing him which toys he was allowed to have and which toys were off limits. It was helpful for me to have some new toys on hand to give him in place of those fun baby toys to help keep his anxiety and jealousy of the new items to a minimum.
Once your new baby arrives you will have less time to spend playing with your pup and giving them attention. It is a good idea to find other ways to keep them busy, especially if they are high energy pups like my dog.
Riley gets very antsy when he doesn’t have a good way to get out his energy. Finding things that I could do while sitting on the couch or that would entertain him on his own were a must for us.
Riley loves chasing a laser so my husband and I decided to invest in the PetCube. It is a small camera that you can control with your phone that shines a laser into the room and you can control the movement of the laser from the app. Since this is his favorite game, it keeps him distracted for a long time. It has helped out tremendously now that my daughter is here. When I am sitting on the couch feeding her and can’t get up, I can pull out my phone and entertain him without moving.
It is also important to have a plan in place for who is going to care for your pup when you go into labor. Having a set schedule for your pup will make it less stressful for you and your pup when that BIG moment finally comes.
Now lets talk about when you can do when it is time to come home from the hospital.
Bringing Baby Home
- Send Home Baby Blanket or Clothes Ahead of Time
The first thing I would do would be to send some items home ahead of you from the hospital that baby has been wearing.
Allowing your pup to sniff and get used to the new smell before actually meeting your new little human will help them adjust to it and begin to recognize it for when you bring baby home.
- Greet Your Pup Alone
When you get home, go in and greet your pup without showing him baby just yet. It has probably been several days since he has seen you and he will be very excited.
Give him your undivided attention for a few minutes to show him nothing between the two of you has changed.
You will also smell like baby and this will further reinforce that the baby smell is positive.
- Have a Meet and Greet Plan
When introducing your pup to the baby, get yourself and baby set up somewhere, maybe the couch. Then have your partner or a family member bring in your pup.
If your pup is super excited and high energy maybe consider having him on a leash for the introduction.
Allow your pup to come up to baby on his own and sniff her. Then praise him for being gentle and give him a treat or favorite toy.
Continue doing this type of introduction several times a day to show him the proper way to interact with her.
Over time your pup will become accustom to his new family member and you will be amazed at how strong their bond becomes!
I love seeing my daughter’s face light up when she sees our pup and it melts my heart when he snuggles with her!
What steps did you take to prepare your furry friend to meet your new baby? What worked and what didn’t? I would love to hear from you!