Having a new baby is an exciting (and exhausting) time. Caring for your newborn is one of life’s great experiences, and it requires a great deal of time, patience, and love. Taking steps to make this time go as smoothly as possible can have serious benefits for both you and your new bundle of joy.
This is especially true if your new bundle of joy is forcing other family members—namely siblings and pets—to share precious attention. Having a game plan and implementing it as much as possible before the new baby arrives can help everything go smoothly and give you the peace of mind necessary to attend to the needs of your newborn.
Your plan can take any number of forms. It could involve one parent covering the newborn each day while the other one gives attention to siblings and pets. Or it could include a series of steps to introduce your fur baby to your new baby and new way of life. Regardless of how your plan works, it will be a critical step in helping everyone coexist at home.
Protect Quiet Time
Anyone who has spent much time with a newborn is keenly aware of how precious a sleeping baby is. Not only for the sheer cuteness of a sleeping face, but for the few moments of rest and relaxation that come with it.
Most parents are constantly on the lookout for ways to help their newborn sleep more soundly. One of the most important parts of getting your dog and your newborn to coexist together is teaching your pup to respect a quiet house while the baby is sleeping. This means no barking or rough play with loud toys during these times. This isn’t an easy transition to make, but it is one that you can begin working on well before the baby arrives by training your dog not to bark and only allowing her to play with noisy squeak toys at certain times.
Another thing to consider is how much time your pup or other children will naturally spend near where the baby sleeps. For instance, does your dog have to constantly walk by the cradle to go outside? Or are your other children sharing a room with the baby? Changing well-traveled routes or moving the baby’s sleeping area to a quieter place can make a big difference.
Get to the Root of Outbursts
For many pets and siblings who are not used to sharing their time with you, bringing a new baby home can be a significant adjustment. There are likely to be attempts to get the attention they are used to that come in the form of negative outbursts. When these happen, it is important to not lose your cool, but to also be firm with the new rules.
Halving the time you used to spend with your pup in order to give more attention to a newborn could cause your dog to react in any number of ways. Your dog may have more energy than usual and become destructive around the house and yard. Or, she could follow you around and attempt to crawl in your lap with the baby for some love. Your pet certainly needs to learn that a new set of rules in order, but it is equally valuable to find the time to give her the attention she deserves.
The same can be said for siblings who are learning to share mom and dad’s attention for the first time. Much like your pup, big brother or sister may start acting out in unexpected ways, like taking to drawing on the walls. It may be worthwhile to have cleanup plans for accidents like wall crayon art and maybe even making the sibling help with cleanup as a consequence. Just like with your dog, it is critical to balance giving your child all the love and attention he or she needs while introducing the new house rules.
Have a Plan for the Unexpected
Adjusting to a newborn in your home is a major change, and it can lead to a whole variety of unexpected instances. Your dog tracking mud in the house and shaking off everywhere after being out in the rain can be a much bigger deal than it used to be. Keeping your pup cleaner than in the past is often an unexpected challenge of having a dog and a baby in the same home.
Other, even bigger issues can come into play as well, and having a plan in place can prevent a lot of stress. For example, bearing the financial burden of a major pet injury can be a real challenge right after having a newborn. Having something like pet insurance in place can really make a difference in your peace of mind if a serious pet accident were to occur.
For both older siblings and pets, having a support system in place can help ease some of the challenges of a newborn as well. Being able to have your neighbor pick up your pup for a walk around the neighborhood or getting grandma and grandpa to pick up the older kids for the afternoon can give everyone a little bit of what they’re craving.
It can be expected that a newborn will forever change the dynamics of your home. In order to help your pet or older children adjust, it is important to begin preparing them for a baby as early as possible. Be realistic about everyone’s needs for attention, and do your best to account for everyone while kindly enforcing new rules. With a little bit of time, everyone will be adjusted and happy as can be.