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Bringing Baby Home: Socializing Siblings and Pets

Teresa Shaw | 1, September 2008


Bringing baby home is a momentous occasion — you are introducing him or her to their new home for the very first time. What's more, you are most likely introducing baby to any siblings or pets for the first time as well. While this is an exciting time for all involved, it can also be a source of stress — both for baby and for the pets and siblings.

For pets and other children, who may consider themselves the "baby" since they arrived before your newest arrival, the introduction of an infant can be difficult. Your pet or child may be used to getting a lot of attention, and a new baby can cause a drastic change in their daily routine; not only will they receive less attention, but they may feel jealous, ignored and isolated. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to alleviate any stress on your other child or pets. When bringing baby home for the first time, consider these suggestions to make the transition easier for everyone.

Helping to Prepare Siblings

Bringing home a new little brother or sister can be stressful for older children. However, you can begin to acclimate them as early as during your pregnancy. To help smooth the transition, try these tips.

Before baby arrives:

  • Make sure to involve your other children in the pregnancy. Let him or her feel your belly when the baby moves; encourage them to talk to, read to, or sing to the baby; show him or her the sonogram photos from any ultrasounds you receive.
  • Encourage siblings-to-be to ask questions and talk to you about the baby, and be honest with them.
  • If siblings are young, consider giving a baby doll to feed and change, helping him or her with these tasks and explaining that this is how you will care for the new baby.
  • Let them help out with the baby's laundry, putting baby's things away or other tasks.

After baby arrives:

  • Be sure to spend some quality time with each of your children so no one feels left out or neglected.
  • Consider bringing home a gift from the new baby for big brothers and sisters.
  • At first, you can expect some jealousy, especially if the main focus of your attention for several years suddenly has new competition. Encourage siblings to "help" you care for this newest family member.

Helping to Prepare Pets

Preparations to help your pets smoothly adjust to the addition of a new baby can begin months ahead of time. Following are some tips from the Humane Society of the United States to help your pet adjust to the new addition.

Before baby arrives:

  • Address any pet training and behavior problems. If your pet's behavior includes gentle nibbling, pouncing, or swatting at you and others, redirect that behavior to appropriate objects. Fear and anxiety should be addressed with the help of an animal-behavior specialist.
  • Train your pet to remain calmly on the floor beside you until you invite him on your lap, which will soon cradle a newborn.
  • Encourage friends with infants to visit your home to accustom your pet to babies, and supervise any interaction.
  • Accustom your pet to baby-related noises, such as that of a baby crying, the mechanical infant swing, or the rocking chair. Make these positive experiences for your pet by offering a treat or play time.
  • To discourage your pet from jumping on the baby's crib and changing table, apply double-sided tape to the furniture.
  • If the baby's room will be off-limits to your pet, install a sturdy barrier such as a removable gate or even a screen door.

After baby arrives:

  • Consider bringing home a blanket that your baby has slept on home to give to your pet. This will help him or her to become familiar with your baby's scent.
  • When you return home from the hospital, your pet will probably greet you eagerly and want attention. Have someone else take the baby into another room and greet your pet warmly. Then, bring your pet with you to sit next to the baby. If your pet remains calm, reward him or her with a treat.
  • Be sure to spend time with your pet, playing a favorite game or other enjoyable activities. Remember, your pet may feel neglected and cut off when suddenly he or she is not the center of attention.

Remember that it is important to reinforce positive behavior — you want your pet to associate the new baby with a positive experience. Never force your pet to get near the baby, and always supervise any interaction between your pet and your baby.

Teresa Shaw is a professional editor and freelance writer with a degree in English and journalism. She writes about motherhood, travel, and cooking, among other topics, for a variety of print and online markets. She enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, two cats, and dog.

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jasmine Apr 7, 2010 05:37:27 PM ET

Hay i love the baby turtle

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