What advice do you have on introducing a new baby to pets? –Kitty Mama
It’s a good idea to begin this process before the baby arrives (you’re going to be too busy afterwards). Let the animal explore the preparations you’re making and spend some time sniffing the bassinet, blankets and tiny garments you’re so preoccupied with these days. Speak to him gently and pet him while you’re doing this so he’ll associate the new items with you being relaxed and him getting positive strokes.
If there’s time when the baby is born, have someone bring something home that’s been near the baby (a t-shirt or a blanket will do) so the animal can smell the baby’s scent – again, be sure to give the animal lots of praise and positive reinforcement. When you bring the baby home, have someone else hold the baby while you greet your pet (by the way, this is exactly the same way you introduce a new baby to siblings).
When things have quieted down a bit, sit down with your baby on your lap and let the animal approach at his own pace. He will eventually want to sniff the baby—it’s okay, he won’t hurt him. Talk to him quietly and positively.
Don’t leave the baby alone with your pet in the beginning no matter how calm the animal seems; your pet will be very curious and may injure the baby without meaning to. If the animal bristles, growls or bares his teeth, tell him “No,” very sternly and (if he continues) put him out of the room.
Give the animal a chance to get to know the baby under different circumstances; he’ll be curious all over again when the baby is eating, sleeping, stinking or screaming. When the baby gets a little bigger, watch that he doesn’t hurt your pet without meaning to; animals are often astonishingly patient with ear and tail pulling, but you can’t expect them not to react at all. With patience, perseverance and proper supervision, your child and your first “baby” can grow to have a long, loving relationship.