Time to go home with your new baby. How can you make it seamless and stress free?

After the trauma and exhilaration of the birth of the family’s new arrival, it will be time to go home. This can pose a few challenges, but if you handle it right, it will be plain sailing. When you arrive home with your baby for the first time, if you have animals (dogs specifically), immediately bring your baby to be introduced to the family pet.

This will make your dog feel fully included in the arrival of the new family member and help to prevent any jealousy occurring. If you don’t push it away, it will create its own bond for looking after and protecting your child. Your baby will also start immediately and subconsciously to learn to accept them and not to feel threatened by dogs. In later life, this will be a good social skill as she will be more comfortable around animals.

When we had our first baby and brought him home from the hospital, we placed him in his carrier seat on the floor in the middle of the lounge. We then called our dog over to see him. She sniffed him and looked at him, and sniffed him again, and understood that he was a new addition to the family, and was no threat to her.  She immediately lay down next to his carrier seat and stayed like that for quite a while until it was time for a feed….the baby that is!

From that day onwards until she died 10 years later, she slept under his cot initially and then his bed, and ‘protected’ him. Once we had a second and a third child, she would rotate rooms virtually every night once so she could look out for all three of them.

Of course, this might not be possible in some households depending on the breed of dog. Also, if your pet is an outdoor one it will be slightly different.  However, when you do go outside with your baby for the first time make sure that you introduce your new arrival to the family pet. It works very well.

Also, if you already have children, prior to your new baby’s arrival, talk to them about having a new member of the family. It is very important to include them in all the attention their new sibling is getting. It will make them feel good towards their new sister and be really positive about her arrival. A very good strategy to get your older child to feel good about the new arrival in the family, is for your baby to ‘bring a special gift’ to them.

For years after our daughter was born our oldest son always remembered the Thomas the Tank Engine train set ‘his new sister bought him’. He loved her for that, (Toddlers can be so fickle) and never got jealous when we were giving her attention, because he understood she was smaller than him and ‘needed to be looked after’.

Do young children need to be taught how to get on with pets?

Part of growing up and passing through childhood is understanding how to deal with social relationships. But should these relationships be restricted purely to other children and adults?

A lot of children have a fear of animals, and in particular dogs, and potentially this could come back and bite them (quite literally) when they get older. If your child does not know how to  behave around dogs, and doesn’t feel comfortable and confident, the dog will sense this, and something unexpected may happen.

You can start to familiarise your child with dogs at a very early age. If you have a family pet, this can be from the moment your baby comes home from the hospital.

When you arrive home with your new arrival, place him in the middle of your lounge in his carry seat, and call your dog over. This will be good for the dog, and avoid him being jealous, and make him see your baby as a friend and not a threat. It will also be good for your baby as he will immediately get used to being around your pet.

If you do not have a family dog, when you meet other peoples dogs, encourage your child to stroke them and throw a ball for them. Your child will love it, the dog will love it, and your child will be learning how to interact with another living being who is not human.

He will be learning that the dynamic between humans and dogs is different to that which he has with you and other people. Of course always be careful what breed of dog it is, and how well you know the owners. But if the dog is loved and well trained, it will be fine and you will be helping your child with his relationship interaction skills for the rest of his life.