Monday, November 1, 2010

Pets and the New Baby

Pets are a wonderful addition to your home and family, the provide love, entertainment, and purpose to our lives. When you are expecting a baby and you have a pet, here are some things to consider:

The first thing to do is make an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure Kitty and Rover are in tiptop health and all their vaccinations are up-to-date. While there, be sure to tell him or her that you are expecting, and ask about restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your pets while pregnant. Ask the vet for advice on preparing the pets for a new baby. Most veterinarians will be happy to offer tips that will help both Kitty and Rover adjust to the new arrival.
Remember that Rover and Kitty are members of your family. They have become accustomed to your attention and their lifestyle. The closer you can maintain the same routines for them after the baby is born, the easier the transition will be. This means that whenever possible keep up the daily walks, petting rituals, and evening snuggles. If you know that your routine is going to change after baby is born, it is best to adjust it now with your pets, before baby enters the scene.
You will need to establish some boundaries for Kitty, who may be used to going where she pleases in the house. Blowing up some balloons and placing them in areas where you want to discourage her from going can help. The squeaking and loud popping sounds the balloons make, as well as the occasional balloon clinging to her fur from static electricity, should be enough to convince her to avoid these areas at all costs. Filling the bassinet or crib with balloons and allowing Kitty to jump in will quickly teach her that she does not want to be there.
Washing Rover's blanket in the same laundry soap you plan to wash the baby's bedding and clothing with will help the adjustment beforehand. The most helpful thing for Rover would be to have dad bring home a receiving blanket from the hospital that was used by your baby. This will help Rover adjust to the new scent of baby far more quickly.
Once your new baby arrives at home, it is important to pay special attention to your pets, especially in those first few days when baby comes home. If possible, have Dad pay attention to them while you feed the baby. Then have Dad burp the baby while you take your turn paying attention to Kitty and Rover.
Don't be afraid to allow Kitty and Rover to come over and give baby a "hello sniff," while you have the baby safely cuddled in your arms. It helps them get adjusted to the source of this new scent and become more familiar with the baby's movements. Remember, even the most faithful family pet can be startled by a baby's sudden actions or cries, so it will be important for you to take the time to assure Kitty and Rover that these movements and noises are okay.

By the time your baby is on the move, your pets should be well accustomed to having a new member of the family. It will be important for you to establish boundaries by letting your baby know not to play with Rover's dinner, nor pull Kitty's tail.
With some careful planning, the bonds that will be established between Kitty, Rover, and your baby will be strong, and you will be able to sit back and watch proudly as your entire family develops and interacts well together.

*Pets have instincts just like humans do, so most likely your pet, who is a loving member of your family, is going to know that the new addition is a fragile baby. Although being cautious is never a bad thing, don't assume that your pet will misbehave, give them a chance to show you that they are capable of adjusting. Children greatly benefit from having a pet to grow up with, they will have a constant companion and friend that they will cherish throughout the rest of their lives. *

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