Planning for a New Baby in a Household with Pets
Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy and their greyhound, Clyde.
For pet parents, welcoming a baby into the family is exciting and stressful! You want your pet to still feel your unconditional love after the baby is home.
We have planned twice for a baby arriving—the first time was more than two years ago when our daughter, Gabriella, was born. Then, about eight months ago, we welcomed Tommy. Clyde, our 12-year-old greyhound, has done really well with both babies—pretty commendable for a senior dog!
We were anxious about how we would incorporate Clyde into our new day-to-day activities and make events like crying, crawling and walking less stressful on him—and us!
Here’s a list of tips that we used when our little ones were on the way:
Before your baby arrives:
- Gradually make changes to your house. We put up the bassinet, pack and play and swing about a month before my due date so Clyde could get used to the new layout.
- The night before I came home from the hospital, Tom brought a blanket that the baby had used and put it on Clyde’s bed.
- Plan out the timing of your pet’s walks and decide who will walk with him. These things tend to slip through the cracks during the first few weeks after your baby’s arrival!
- Designate an area where your baby can play and rest that is off-limits to your pet.
When your baby is home:
- When we walked in from the hospital, we put the carrier down and greeted Clyde first. We then let him decide when to come to the baby .
- Allow your pet to sniff the baby often.
- “Teach” the baby how to properly pet the cat or dog—it’s best to start early on this one!
- Stick to your pet’s routine as much as possible, including his walks, favorite treats and outings. Clyde and I still do “trick time” every night. He gets exercise (and his Kong!) These minutes together are so important.
Visit the ASPCA Pet Care section to learn more about preparing dogs and cats for the arrival of a new baby. As a mom of two human kids and one canine kid, I’ll always feel guilty that one of the three is not getting enough attention no matter how hard I try. But, I am going to continue to have fun while trying!