For years you have had an only child, well that is your fur baby. Now you’re preparing to bring home your baby and want to make sure they get along. So let’s go over how to introduce your dog to your newborn, or even your beloved cat.
They’ve Sensed your Pregnancy
For the past 9 months you have probably noticed your fur baby sticking by your side and acting a little different around you. Pets are very smart and they have most likely already sensed the change coming. Does your pet get a little nervous with change? As you were nesting and preparing the nursery, your pet has most definitely noticed. To train your cat not to go in spaces specifically for baby, such as the crib, you can put double sided tape down in the months leading up to baby’s arrival.
Preparing for the Big Meeting
You’ve delivered your baby and now are staying at the hospital for two days. Have Dad or a grandparent take back a swaddling blanket that smells like your new bundle of joy. Your pet can smell it ahead of time to get used to the new smell that will soon enter the home. Perhaps you can put the swaddling blanket in your pet’s bed.
How to Introduce your Dog to your Newborn
A postpartum nurse told me the best advice with my first child. She reminded me that dogs are pack animals. Her suggestion that worked wonders, was letting our dog out and having her greet the newborn outside before entering the house all together. Our dog was of course very excited to see us, so I had my husband interfere with her initial excited jumping. Then I bent down to let her smell me and our son, who was still in his infant car seat, staying cautious and aware of jumping and nails. Our dog sniffed and then we all walked into the house together as a pack.
How to Introduce your Cat to your Newborn
Many cats do not go out in the yard and that’s okay because they are not pack animals. Whichever parent the cat has a stronger relationship with, should go inside without baby in their hands. They can pet and play with the cat for the first few minutes home and then carry him closely over to smell and inspect the newborn. Cats are known to jump up on counters and all sorts of places, be sure that your cat does not jump in the crib or bassinet. You may feel your cat is plenty friendly, but snuggling up next to baby does pose a suffocation risk.
Always Supervise Interactions
Now that you’ve learned how to introduce your dog to your newborn, you will still need to always be present when they interact. As much as you love your pet, remember that they are an animal and their behavior can be unpredictable. Always supervise interactions with your fur baby and your newborn. Do not leave your baby unattended on a blanket or low to the ground on a bouncer. If you are always supervising your pet and newborn when together, the chance of accidental scratch is remarkably low.
Give Plenty of Attention
Your first child, your pet, doesn’t want to be forgotten in the shuffle of your new life. Be sure to give your dog or cat extra attention when you are not tending to your newborn. Moms, when you pass baby off to Dad or grandparents, take the time to snuggle your fur baby; they’ll appreciate it. In addition, do things as a whole family. Head out in the yard for tummy time on a blanket and bring a pet toy and treat as well. If you are going for your first outing, maybe to get lunch, can your pet come along and you all sit outside?
We hope these tips of how to introduce your dog to your newborn, or cat, will make you feel confident with the memorable first meeting of your fur baby and newborn. Here at Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny we love our pets as much as you, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for postpartum and newborn care support. We offer many services to help you on every step of your parenthood journey.
About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.