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Alison Rhodes, "The Safety Mom"

National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.
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Pets and the New Baby

Congratulations, you are going to have a baby! You have told all of your family and friends, even going so far as to tell the joyful news to your furry, four-legged "kids." As the months progress you notice Kitty, who is perched on your lap, is now closely guarding her position as Rover, appearing needy, moves in to be close to you. You may find yourself wondering if your pets understand what is happening and if they will accept the new baby as a member of the family. Although there is no single thing you can do to guarantee that the transition will be easy for your pets, there are a few things you can do to make the change a little easier on all concerned.

The first thing to do is make an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure Kitty and Rover are in tiptop health and all their vaccinations are up-to-date. While there, be sure to tell him or her that you are expecting, and ask about restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your pets while pregnant. Ask the vet for advice on preparing the pets for a new baby. Most veterinarians will be happy to offer tips that will help both Kitty and Rover adjust to the new arrival.

Remember that Rover and Kitty are members of your family. They have become accustomed to your attention and their lifestyle. The closer you can maintain the same routines for them after the baby is born, the easier the transition will be. This means that whenever possible keep up the daily walks, petting rituals, and evening snuggles. If you know that your routine is going to change after baby is born, it is best to adjust it now with your pets, before baby enters the scene.

You will need to establish some boundaries for Kitty, who may be used to going where she pleases in the house. Blowing up some balloons and placing them in areas where you want to discourage her from going can help. The squeaking and loud popping sounds the balloons make, as well as the occasional balloon clinging to her fur from static electricity, should be enough to convince her to avoid these areas at all costs. Filling the bassinet or crib with balloons and allowing Kitty to jump in will quickly teach her that she does not want to be there.

Washing Rover's blanket in the same laundry soap you plan to wash the baby's bedding and clothing with will help the adjustment beforehand. The most helpful thing for Rover would be to have dad bring home a receiving blanket from the hospital that was used by your baby. This will help Rover adjust to the new scent of baby far more quickly.

Once your new baby arrives at home, it is important to pay special attention to your pets, especially in those first few days when baby comes home. If possible, have Dad pay attention to them while you feed the baby. Then have Dad burp the baby while you take your turn paying attention to Kitty and Rover.

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