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Healthy Pets

Prepping Your Pet for Your New Baby

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

Your attitude around your pet is important during this transition period.

“Make every attempt to resume normal life for the pet,” says Alanna Levine, MD, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and pediatrician in private practice in Tappan, N.Y. “If he was allowed on the couch before, continue to allow him up there. And be careful not to discipline your pet every time he comes near the new baby.”

Some dogs find it comforting to spend time in a crate, but this must be an established preference before the baby arrives. Putting the dog in a crate whenever the baby is around can be traumatic and should be avoided, Peterson says.

Supervising Your Pet and Baby's Relationship

Animals are unpredictable, and babies make erratic movements, which may frighten pets. This is why you should always be present when your baby and pet are in the same room.

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