Pets and Newborns

Many soon-to-be parents panic about what to do with their pets. Although parents need to take precautions, the arrival of a newborn does not mean you need to get rid of your beloved cat or dog.

Preparing for baby's arrival:
• Remember that your pet likes routine. If you are making changes in your home, such as building a nursery, do it gradually so that your pet can adjust.

• Ask a friend with a baby to visit your home so that your pet can get used to the sights and sounds of a baby.

• Setting boundaries: If you are planning to use gates to keep your pet out of the baby's area, put these up well in advance of the baby's arrival. Bassinets and playpens should also be set up early so that your pet can be trained to stay out of them.

• Be sure that all pets are up to date on vaccinations and are free of any parasites.

Getting to know each other:
Allow your cat or dog to get used to the baby's smell by presenting it with a dirty diaper or blanket. Then let it sniff the baby while you are holding the baby in your arms, protected with a blanket. After placing the baby safely in her crib, give your pet a small treat.

• Avoid anxiety and jealousy: Try to keep to regular feeding and playtime schedules as much as possible. Allow your pet to be a part of tending to your new baby's needs by remaining in the same room during diaper changes and feeding times.

• As your baby gets older, closely supervise all interactions with your dog or cat to keep your child and your pet safe.

When giving up your pet is not an option:
• If your baby shows signs of being allergic to your pet, look into dander-reducing products and air filters.

• If your dog seems unable to adjust to a new baby despite your efforts, think about getting professional obedience training with home visits by a dog trainer.

For more advice and insight, visit the Pets message boards.

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