I was a mother to animals long before I became a mother to another human. My animals were my first babies and when they came into my life, I committed to live with them through thick and thin. One never knows how the introduction of a baby in the home will change things, especially when it comes to the attitude of your pets, but there are always things that you can do to help ease the process along. Here are my top five tricks for introducing your fur babies to your human baby.
1. The Blanket Trick
Also known as the Towel Trick when it comes to introducing animals to each other. It’s simple. Sometime before your baby and animal meet, have a loved one take a blanket that was used to wrap up your baby home to your fuzzy child. Let them become familiar with the new smells on the blanket or even lay it on their bed. The purpose of this trick is to allow your pet to become accustomed to your baby’s smell before the new family member comes home. This makes the scent of your baby not so foreign and new!
On that same note, allow your pet to be involved in preparing your home for baby. Let them check out new furniture, hear the talking toys and experience the newness with you!
Once your baby becomes more mobile and wants nothing more than the hair of your pet in their little hands, it’s time to really start respecting your pet’s space. While there are many valuable teaching moments found in pet/baby interactions, your pet may not necessarily want to be in that classroom all of the time. Pay attention to changes in breathing (even excessive yawning!), eyes shifting or tails talking, and allow your pet to leave the situation. Showing your child that you respect your pets will only teach them to do the same.
Even though you may not want to believe it, your baby and pets may not become best friends over night. Allow your pets to warm up to the new addition at their own pace. There’s no need to force interactions or think that all pets will adjust at the same pace. They’ll accept each other when the time is right.
4. Make Special Time
Trust me, I know how busy life can become once a baby comes into your world. Your arms are always full and exhaustion is a common feeling but your pets may not understand that. Try to set aside special time to continue to bond with your pets. Be it brushing your cat in the evenings after baby has gone to bed, throwing the ball with Fido during nap time or taking the pup along for a family walk, just continue to make your pet feel special and loved and they will do the same for you.
5. Involve Them
Just as you should set aside special time to bond with your animal apart from baby, it’s equally as important to try and involve your pets into your new routines. Our large pup and toddler now share snack time and that time has bonded them like we would have never imagined. Include your pets in the bedtime ritual, snuggle up with your kitties and your baby for story time, or take a family walk and let Fido lead the way. Whatever you do, remember those golden rules of respect and patience! One day, you’ll be amazed at how well everyone transitioned together!
For further reading on this topic, I strongly recommend this wonderful article from the ASPCA discussing introducing dogs and babies (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/introducing-your-dog-your-new-baby) and this video from cat guru, Jackson Galaxy, about preparing your cat for baby (http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/my-cat-from-hell/videos/how-to-introduce-a-baby-to-your-cat.htm)!