Parenting Perspective: Pets and new babies

April 30, 2012 2:27:42 PM PDT
New parents have a lot to think about when preparing to welcome a baby into the world. Families with pets have one extra thing to consider.

My husband and I adopted Teddy as a puppy and Ali when she was just a tiny kitty. But next month - we'll welcome into the world our first baby girl. The question is... How do we make sure ALL our kids get along?

Our dogs and our cats are used to getting all of our attention - so how will they react when we bring a new baby into the family?

"So really the best way to introduce a dog to a baby is to make sure the parents are pretty confident and aware of the dog's body language," according to Leigh Siegfried of the Dogs and Storks program.

Siegfried is a certified pet trainer and a local presenter for Dogs and Storks. She says look for early and subtle warning signs of stress in your pets.

Also, you should be sure to "hold on to the child in such a way that you feel comfortable but also allow the dog to interact," she adds. "Allow the dog to sniff in a controlled way.

Even before you bring baby home, stock up on enrichment toys: Things like food-dispensing toys and long-lasting chewies that will keep your pooches busy and engaged.

Also get your dogs used to gates or crates or being on a short plastic-coated cable tether for short periods of time. Fido may need a child-free zone sometimes to chill out and relax.

"The dog can still be near you, hanging out, and he's going to make himself at home here with plenty of stuff to do." Siegfried says. "But it can also be a spot for your dog to be."

Remember to brush up on the basics likes no barking or jumping, and the "Off" or "Leave it" commands.

Some experts also suggest you get your pets used to baby-related scents like Desitin or Dreft detergent in advance. Additionally, it may not be a bad idea to let your pets sniff a blanket your baby has used before you actually bring your newborn into the house.

I'd love to hear about your experiences when it comes to pets and children.. I hope you'll post your comments on my Facebook page.

-Nydia

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