Prepping Your Pets for a New Baby

August 17, 2016 | Updated: 5:49 a.m., August 18, 2016

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Bringing home a new baby isn't just a little overwhelming for the parents, it can be difficult for your pets too if they're not prepped properly. So how can you get your pet ready for the big change? Here are some tips from the ASPCA to get your pets ready for that bundle of joy you will be bringing home.

Tip 1: Make a plan
A few months before the baby is born, introduce your pet to some of the sights, sounds, and smells they will encounter when the baby is here and reward them for adjusting. Then a month or two out make adjustments to their daily routine as close to what you would expect would change when the baby's born.

Tip 2: Teach your pet important skills
This tip might be for dog owners specifically, but teach them the basic commands like sit, stay, down, heal, etc. so when you do have the baby, it's not a dangerous situation for everyone.

Tip #3: Prepare your pets for lifestyle changes
Many pets get anxiety when there's a sudden change in their lifestyle. This tip goes hand in hand with tip #1.  If you can start making adjustments well before the baby is born you won't have to worry about taking care of two babies at the same time.  For example, if your pet eats at 7 am every day, change up their feeding times. Feed them some time between 6 am to 10 am so that way they can adapt to a more inconsistent schedule.

Tip #4: Minimize the attention given
When the baby gets home from the hospital, there's a chance that your pet will no longer be the center of the universe. One way of getting them used to the shared attention is to schedule short play time and cuddle sessions. And randomize what time of the day they receive them too, so they don't come to expect it at a certain time.

Tip #5: Make new rules now
Rules will definitely have to change when the baby gets here and one way of doing it is to teach them new rules now rather than after the baby is born. Like if you don't want your pet to be on the couch then teach them to stay off of it now, or if your pet is used to sleeping in bed with you and you want to change that with the arrival of the baby then buy a comfortable bed for your pet next to yours.


Tip #6: Decide whether the baby's room is off limits or not
Make a decision now whether or not you want your pet in the baby's room or outside the baby's room so they can adjust to the new room. If you decide the baby's room is off limits, install a tall baby gate in the doorway so your pet can't get in and train them to sit or stay near the doorway. If you decide to let them stay in the room with the baby, then leave treats around their beds in the room so that then can learn to stay in that area and a crib can be quite comfy for babies and pets so make sure you teach them to stay off the crib.

You can find all these tips and more at the ASPCA website.