So you've done everything you need in preparing to bring home your new baby. You have the nursery decorated, the layette, have chosen a name and decided whether to breastfeed or bottle feed. One thing you may have forgotten is Fluffy and Rover... your pets.
Up until now, your pets have probably been your "babies" and gotten most of your attention, they are used to being the king or queen of the house (my cat owns our house, she just lets us live here). Pets are a very important part of your household, a part of your family. How will they react to a new member of the family getting all of the attention that they once received? Will they be jealous? Will they become unsociable? It is very hard to say as each animal has a different personality, much like people. The following are a couple points that may give you some insight and tips for coping with your baby and your pet.
One of the myths I have heard from numerous sources is that cats will be very jealous and try to smother a baby when they are sleeping. Also, that they will suck a baby's breath away. I have heard that this is just a myth, but I wasn't taking any chances, so the following are a couple precautions to consider:
** Keeping your pet out of the nursery while your baby is sleeping or unattended, while being not having to close the baby's door or lock up the dog or cat is a concern for many new parents. This could have easily been resolved by baby monitors, but I still felt like I was shutting the baby out. Installing an inexpensive screen door to the nursery is a good way to resolve the problem. Paint the screen door the same color as the trim and decorate it with baby motif. You can get very creative. This also makes a great conversation piece to anyone visiting your home.
** Let your pet smell your baby and your baby's belongings. By brushing away the dog or cat every time your pet comes near your new baby can make the pet resentful. Your pet may resort to bad habits as a result of feeling unwanted and jealous.
** Some have said to get a pet while your baby is young. They have felt in doing this your child and pet can grow up together and it will help to minimize jealousy. My opinion is that if you do not have a pet already, try to refrain from getting one until your baby is older. Keep in mind that puppies and kittens have very sharp little claws and teeth and while they mean no harm, they want to play and s happen. Also, puppies and kittens can be very active and demand a lot of attention in training. Consider whether you want to spend the time training the puppy or kitten or spend that time with your newborn.
** Most important, do not leave your newborn unattended with a pet until you see how the pet reacts.
Our family survived the pet and baby dilemma, yours can too.
Pets and New Babies
by Teri Hanson
Article copyright, 2001 by Teri Hanson of Babychatter.com.
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