Our Maltese ‘Ciara’ became part of our family when we arrived home from our honeymoon. After being the centre of our attention for almost a decade we knew it was going to be a huge shock for her when we had a baby.
After a lot of thought, we decided to buy a puppy Pug called ‘Kasha’ a year before we hoped to fall pregnant. Ciara was set in her ways and we felt we needed to shake up her world a little. Thankfully it was the right decision; Ciara loved the company of the new puppy and we noticed a new bounce in her step. Please note this worked for our 9 year old Maltese, however, I’m not suggesting everyone should go and buy another dog. You especially don’t need the responsibility of a new puppy while you are pregnant.
A year later we had our first baby and while we were in hospital my husband brought home a baby wrap and clothing to place in the dogs beds so our ‘furry family members’ had a week to become used to our son’s scent.
Our dogs were fine with our baby, however we would never leave our baby alone with them. No matter how well you think you know your animals remember they are by nature, unpredictable and they, like us, react to situations and stimulants differently when they are new and strange.
I had heard some terrible stories about cats’ smothering babies in cots’, so I was very conscious of our cat. I always made sure our cat was outside when our son was sleeping as I wasn’t willing to take a risk. Our cat was curious to begin with and then wasn’t really interested in our baby.
I had a girlfriend who was single and had a cat for many years before she fell pregnant. She didn’t know how her cat was going to react when she brought home her baby, as her cat had never had to share her attention. My friend decided to put a fly-wire screen door (that automatically closed) on the baby’s bedroom. She felt more confident knowing the cat couldn’t get into the baby’s room and she liked the fact she could hear her baby (unlike if the solid door was closed).
5 TIPS TO PREPARE YOUR PETS FOR A BABY
1. Vary Routine
If your dog is used to a regular routine it’s time to vary his schedule while you are pregnant. You will find the dog’s routine will change when you are home with a new baby as everything depends on your baby’s sleep pattern, feeds etc. It’s important to make variations in your dog’s exercise and feeding schedule now so he/she doesn’t associate the changes with the baby and you will feel more relaxed not having a crying baby and a barking dog.
2. Baby Scent
While in hospital have someone put clothing or a wrap with your baby’s scent in your dog and cat’s bed, so they recognise your baby when you arrive home.
Don’t ever leave your animals alone with your baby without your supervision.
Try not to ignore your pets once the baby arrives.
Always include your pet in your daily activities (with the new baby) as you have done in the past.
My boys have a wonderful relationship with their pets, we have a cat, a dog and five chickens. Our pets have helped make our house a home and taught our children about the cycle of life, empathy and responsibility. For our family we couldn’t imagine life without our ‘furry and feathered family members’.