dog and baby laying side by side, illustrating tips for introducing your pet to your newborn babyBecoming a parent is a wonderful and beautiful experience! However, there are at least a few things to consider when introducing your newest family member to your furry family member(s).

Some pets seem to know about a pregnancy before the first positive test, while others seem to ignore it until you can’t see your feet. No matter how much attention your fur baby has paid to your pregnancy, they will certainly notice your newborn! If your pet has been around children and loves them, you may not be concerned. If you haven’t been around lots of kids, you may be wondering how everyone will do with these new relationships.

Either way, these tips will help you get more comfortable as you prepare to introduce your pet to your newborn baby! 

1. Know your pet(s)

The truth is, some pets don’t love being around kids — and that’s totally OK! You may need some extra time to introduce your pet to your baby. If your pet is loving but skittish, there are lovely boarding places in and around Boston. You may need this anyway if you’re having a hospital stay or can plan around your baby’s suspected birthday. If you’re in or close to Boston, try looking into The Urban Hound or Lady and the Leash. North of the city, try The Dogmother. If you’re south of Boston, I would take my dog to Happy Dog Pet Resort.

2. Bringing home baby

Bringing home the baby’s first hat or clothing item (they’ll have lots of extras at your birth place!) can help familiarize your pets with the smell of the baby. Greeting your pet with treats, lots of love, or even a new toy from the baby can help with the introduction. I always think it’s a good idea for your partner or another family member to see your pet first and bring those items over. This may be easier than you trying to do it all at the same time, especially if you were your pet’s “person.” 

3. Everyone gets the “baby blues” — even the pets

I tell this to every family I work with at Caring for Mamas because it’s true! Baby blues are the feelings of upset or sadness that happen in the early postpartum period. If you feel a little out of sorts in the first couple of weeks, that’s totally normal — and your pet may feel it too. This feeling is temporary for everyone, and, eventually, all will adjust to the new normal.

4. Act casual

The baby is a member of the family, and, truthfully, their presence has been felt long before they arrived. With baby items arriving day after day and mini or large celebrations happening, your pet likely knows something is up. Give your entire family time to adjust. Try not to keep your pet away from the baby unless you feel it’s best for their coexistence. Some parents choose between 6 months and 3 years before the children and pets interact without adult interference. There is no right or wrong — just what works for your family. 

5. Establish new routines and boundaries

Pets are a huge responsibility, and having a newborn in the house will throw everyone off their routine. You don’t have to — and won’t be able to — do everything exactly as you did before baby. You should talk to your partner or family members about how they’ll share any current pet responsibilities and how they’ll support you as you care for your new baby. The dog or cat may not be allowed in the crib, for example, and its good to hold those boundaries firm for everyone’s safety and sanity.

Many parents worry their feelings for their pets will change when they have children. I can tell you that it’s so fulfilling watching this loving pet that you’ve cared for and nurtured get close to and love your child! It’s the wonderful circle of love that you started. Trust that with love, support, and a bit of structure, your fur child and human child will get along just fine. 

Dashanna Hanlon
Dashanna was born in Michigan and raised between there and Virginia. She moved to Massachusetts in 2011 after getting a bachelor’s degree in English and gender studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She married her favorite Massachusetts native (Tom) seven years ago. Together they have two sons, Lucas and Isaiah, born in 2018 and 2019. Becoming a parent ignited a passion for supporting others, and Dashanna became a doula before the birth of her second son. She is now the owner of Caring for Mamas, working with families all over Massachusetts and New Hampshire. She loves fresh-squeezed lemonade, good music, and helping and supporting families.