Bringing home your new arrival to meet the rest of the family is such an exciting moment for you and baby. If they have siblings, you might want to do a bit of prior planning to make sure everyone gets along, and there's even more preparation to do if you have a furry family member or two. Time for some baby and pet bonding. As sweet and mellow as your pets might be, taking a couple of steps before introducing them to your little one can help keep baby safe and get their life-long friendship off to a flying start.
Here are our top tips for laying the groundwork with your cat or dog before and after baby arrives.
introducing your dog
before baby arrives
If your dog needs to brush up a bit on its manners, try to address any training issues long before your due date. Taking them on a trip to the vet will ensure they're completely healthy and have had all the right worming injections and tablets.
At some point, you might need to change their walking or feeding routine, or where they're allowed to be in your home. The sooner they get used to these new arrangements, the happier they'll be ready for some baby and pet bonding on your baby's first day at home.
after baby arrives
Dogs like to investigate things with their noses, so bring some baby clothes home from the hospital that he can get used to first. On meeting baby, allow him to have a little sniff and give him treats and lots of praise if he behaves well – it's best to always use positive training around your little one. No matter how much you think you trust your pet, always make sure someone else is in the room with baby so they're not left alone with the dog (or cat).
introducing your cat
before baby arrives
Cats can be just as sensitive to change as dogs, but there are a few ways to make it a little easier for them. Playing baby noises to your cat a while before your baby's due date can get them used to these new sounds. Equally, allow them to roam over any new equipment or furniture you've bought to make them feel comfortable with these new changes. Again, a quick trip to the vet to make sure they're free from fleas and worms is always a good safety measure.
after the baby arrives
You can slowly introduce your cat to baby just by having them in the same room together. It's best not to force your cat to interact with your little one as they may find it stressful – let it run away if it wants, it'll probably come back to explore in its own time. It's good to give your cat its own quiet and safe place to go to if it needs a rest, and always make sure it's supervised around the baby.
You may need to move your pet’s food off the floor once your baby starts toddling to prevent any taste tests. Only put it down when it's meal times, and keep it out of reach the rest of the day.