babyMaternity Magazine
Creative Child

Parenting: Don't Forget About Your Other Baby

by Mollie Twohig

Before my son was born 8 months ago, my phone’s camera roll was jam-packed with photo after photo of my babies. Photos of them sleeping, playing, eating, rolling, slobbering…barking. Okay, so maybe I’m not talking about a real baby, but my dogs come pretty darn close! My husband used to tell me to stop cradling my oldest (I have 3) like a baby, reminding me that he was in fact a dog. Of course I never listened. They were my babies and they got my full and undivided attention. That is, until the cute two-legged human baby made his appearance.

Once little man arrived, I have to admit that he was the main focus now. This little human occupied every waking minute of my day, and it didn’t help that my poor baby was colicky, had severe reflux, barely slept, and cried all the time! My dogs didn’t know who this noise machine was or why I was constantly carrying him everywhere, pouring my heart and soul into trying to soothe him.

Despite the fact that I didn’t have much time for my dogs, I knew that I had to make a conscious effort to incorporate them into our new and very different life. There are several important things that I have done (and continue to do) to help my dogs feel like they aren’t forgotten or ignored.

These small steps will help them adapt to new baby:

  1. Before birth: I didn’t change my normal routine with my dogs during my pregnancy. They definitely sensed that I was pregnant. My oldest dog became more protective of me and slept close to my belly. I continued to let them bark loudly (like at the garbage truck) and I yelled at them like I always did when I needed them to come inside! Because of this, loud barking and noise while he sleeps rarely disturbs my son. He got used to hearing it in utero and I don’t have to shush the dogs more than before.

  2. Bringing baby home and introductions: Before we went home from the hospital I gave my brother a Ziploc Bag full of a few items of clothing that my son had worn. My brother let my dogs sniff the clothing ahead of time, which helped them learn the baby’s smell. When we arrived home, I went into my house (without my baby) and kissed and hugged my dogs! Then my husband did the same. Only then did we bring in our baby and let the dogs see and smell him. They recognized his scent and they knew that I was there for them, which helped to minimize any feelings of competitiveness.

  3. Inclusion in daily activities: On a day-to-day basis, I always try to include the dogs in normal tasks and activities with the baby so that they don’t feel left out. If we’re all in the living room and I need to change a diaper, I’ll say out loud, “Okay time for a diaper change! Let’s go doggies!” Same for bath time or even if I’m just moving rooms with the baby. I also bring the baby on walks with the dogs and they easily associate his carrier with going out. Lastly, I don’t ban the dogs from the nursery and they are by far one of my son’s most loved forms of amusement!

  4. Attention while baby is awake: I don’t limit the attention, petting, and belly rubs to when my baby is napping; instead I try to give the dogs some love during awake-time. This helps the dogs associate the baby’s awake time with positive feelings. If you do the opposite, the dogs might begin to associate the baby’s absence with positive feelings, which is not desirable.

  5. Quality time: When time permits and my husband is around to babysit, I take the dogs out by myself. We go on longer walks where I try to let them take their time sniffing every tree and bush. I think they appreciate the quality time with mom.

  6. Give treats when your baby is around: Last but not least, treats! I give the dogs treats with my son on my lap or sometimes bring the treats to the nursery and award them there. Of course the dogs are in heaven, and again, this helps to reinforce the positive associations with the baby.

 dog baby other baby parenting

I admit I still find myself feeling guilty that I don’t have the same amount of time for them as I used to, but these small steps will help dogs to adapt to the new baby. My dogs know, and I know, they are loved and that they will always be my babies too.

Bio coming soon.

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