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Prepping Your Pet for Your New Baby

How to help your pet get used to your baby -- starting before your baby is born.

Before Baby Comes continued...

Let your pet get familiar with the baby's room while you're still pregnant, if you plan to allow it in your child's bedroom. Cat owners who don't want their pets jumping into baby's crib can train them with an adhesive deterrent product like Sticky Paws, Peterson says. Netting that covers a crib may also be effective.

When a pet won't be admitted to the baby's room, safety gates or screen doors can allow an animal to see and hear what's going on, which makes it feel less isolated.

“Give dogs time to adjust to baby gates, well in advance of the baby arriving,” Reisner says. “It's useful to get dogs used to being separated at times, always in a comfortable place with a food-based toy/puzzle like a Kong - not in a dark basement or cold garage.”

Create a New Normal

You know that you'll have less time to play with your pet after the baby arrives, so why not get the dog or cat used to the idea early?

“Exercise and general daily schedules should be pre-adjusted before baby comes home,” Reisner says. “Cutting back on time spent with an animal can be eased by doing more quality activities.”

While you're pregnant, bring your new baby stroller on outings when you walk the dog. It may even be helpful to place a baby doll in the seat, Mendiratta says.

“I recommend this for women with a toddler or pet,” she says. “A baby doll can be a surrogate for the baby you'll be bringing home. When you put the baby doll in the bassinet, your dog can't go up and lick it. When you go for walks, your dog can recognize that it won't just be the two of you.”

Doggie Day Care

Who will care for your pet when you 're in the hospital delivering your baby and during the first few exhausting days when you return home? Line up someone reliable ahead of time.

“Enlist friends, relatives, even a dog walker, so the dog doesn't feel that the whole routine has been up-ended by this crying baby that gets everyone's attention,” Mendiratta says.

When you have a few spare moments after bringing the baby home, reassure your cat or dog that you still care.

“You'll be exhausted, but you can give your pet 10 minutes of attention when the baby is sleeping,” Mendiratta says. “Snuggle with the cat or play catch with the dog.”

Introducing Baby

Before bringing your baby into your home for the first time, introduce her scent to your pet.

“Send home a blanket or article of clothing so the pet can investigate it,” Peterson says. “When you come home, let someone else carry the baby, and greet your pet in a calm manner. You could let your pet approach the baby on the couch. If things get too excited, rather than banishing the dog or cat, take the baby away so the pet can calm down.”

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