Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yet Another 50 Things That Every New Mom Should Know:

Here are some more tips and tricks for new parents (or seasoned ones who are just getting back in the game), the list is truly endless. This list also includes tips on traveling with a  baby (we have just done a domestic flight and an endless international one with a layover), and dealing with your infants' jet lag. 

What can make or break your day - Baby sleep:

1. The first two days after birth, your baby will likely catch up on sleep. Take that opportunity to do so yourself you're gonna need it. No, you won't lose if you snooze in this case.

2. Wonder what that noise is that your waking up to? Yes, your child, but it could also be your sleeping child. Babies are noisy sleepers so wait before you pick them up or you just may be the reason you both (or all) are awake.

3. A baby pillow may not be safe in the crib but it is an amazing prop to lie down and nurse so that you and baby can both doze off in the middle of the night. (As long as your bed is baby safe ofcourse.)

Baby pillow (used for feeding/ putting baby to sleep before he is moved to his own bed).

4. Once your little one is rolling you may find them on their belly or side in their sleep (or even spinning 180 degrees like my little acrobat). But resist the temptation to fix them, at the age where they can roll they are also able to sense danger (to a certain degree) and roll back if needed. 

5. Cosleeping may feel like the most natural thing in the world (second to breastfeeding for some) but a recent study (this isn't a boring one), found that 74% of babies who die (ugh, sorry about the morbidity) before the age of 4 months do so due to cosleeping. Between 4 and 6 months, majority of deaths are caused due to unsafe things in the crib.

6. Babies need different amounts of sleep at different ages, some get more in the day and some more at night. Look for guidelines but don't panic if your child isn't doing long naps in the day (I did, and then realized I'm grateful that he sleeps longer at night). Some kids will sleep less at night and bless you with long naps, and some will bless you with long sleep hours at night and catnaps in the day.

7. Do try and keep track though of how much your child sleeps atleast until you have a predictable pattern. There are different ways to do this, I use an iPhone app called  babyconnect as I am a data junkie. Graphs like the one below help you see trends, know when your child has fed or slept less or too much, and know what to expect so that you can identify change and adapt to it instead of getting flustered.
One of the many baby center charts that help me track my baby's routine.

About your baby: 

8. When your baby starts tugging on his feet, it may seem convenient to have him hold up his own legs for that diaper change.. But bewear of poop on his hands, then in his hair, and just about everywhere!! 

9. You are likely to need more bibs when starting solids! Beware of colorful spit up on your whites and lights. 

10. Hide the  baby clothes you were planning to frame or turn  into a quilt, when you start solids. 

Time to feed (almost)

11. Football position is a great way to nurse and even pump simultaneously, until your child is tall enough (or you're thin enough) for their feet to hit the headboard and start to kick you (baby and pump in tow) away. 

12. I didn't know this but meats can be introduced before 6 months! Puréed beef chicken or turkey are great to start with and rich in protein and iron. For more on what and when to feed click here

13. Stop feeding your child at the first sign of them being full, or they will learn to eat even when they are not hungry. (And may hold this against you when they are pudgy teenagers.)

Baby Health

14. Solids can cause constipation, so if you see your baby struggling, turning red in the face, or having really hard poo, try some foods that help move things along like pears or prunes. You can also hold baby's legs up in a frog position and keep it there for a few minutes to help! 

15. Some uncommon sense: left and right handedness has been found to not be genetic! It is determined more by the hormonal and brain development in the womb, so don't be surprised if your baby seems to be the only left handed one in the family. (No dads, mom didn't fool around!) 

16. Did you know that spit up can fly? When your baby is turning their head and spitting at the same time.

17. When they lie down and then sit up beware of more (and sudden) spit up. 

Time to sit

18. Teething gels may sound like a great concept but in reality are completely useless. The benzocaine ones are probably effective but unsafe (can affect baby's blood oxygen supply), while the natural ones wash away so fast that they don't really provide much relief. 

19. Teething feels like it will never ever end! (I will let you know if it ever does.) 

20. I recently read that children can be born with a full set of teeth!!! As freaky as that is, can you imagine skipping teething all together? (Apparently those sometimes fall off and then baby has to start from scratch.) 

21. Do baby's gums look like they are bleeding? That's yet another sign of teething! ( Wish I could insert an angry face emoji here).

22. Overheating is more of a risk to a child than being cold so don't be afraid to keep the air conditioner on, or skip that blanket (which is a suffocation hazard anyway). 

23. Is your child at the point where he should be crawling and isn't? Over 30 percent of babies now walk and skip the crawling stage all together. This is because of the very successful back to sleep campaign that drastically reduces the tummy time babies end up getting (but saves their lives instead).

24. Once your little one is rolling, tummy time may become much shorter than you like. But let your baby sit up as much as they can, even if they fall over and then roll. This will help engage and strengthen their muscles for crawling (and sitting for longer periods of time).

Temporary tummy time

25. Most babies stop spitting up by 4 months, some like mine, continue till around 6 months. You will reach a day though when you realize that it's finally less, and once your child is sitting up more, it will be gone. 

26. Shuffle butt! That cute little word represents exactly what you picture it does - baby shuffling their butt around so that they can move to get what they want (pre-crawling). Kids also bottom shuffle, wiggle, bear-crawl and roll around to obtain some mobility before they are actually mobile. 

27. Dryer sheets have recently found to be toxic. There are no laws requiring ingredients of these sheets to be published accurately, so ditch those sheets as they can do serious harm to your baby. For more information on this, click here.

28. Walkers and baby shoes actually make it harder for your baby to walk. Walkers offer too much support not letting muscles strengthen as they should (in addition to just being dangerous as they move unpredictably), and shoes make it difficult for your baby to balance. 

A jumper is a great way to keep baby busy while strengthening his legs and muscles.

Flying with your baby:

29. You will realize that you can actually leave behind (out of lack of space) some of the things you thought completely necessary, but you will be able to make do without them for the duration of your trip anyway. 

30. Carry a ton of toys to keep your baby busy on board, specially if he doesn't he wants to be awake through the flight!

31.  Try and board as late as possible (maybe with one parent going ahead with the baggage, if you're not traveling ahead) so that your baby has less time in the seat. 

32. Nurse/ give your baby a bottle or pacifier during take off and landing. (Try not to start too much before actual take off or landing as you may be struggling to get baby up to relatch like I had to). This is to equalize the pressure in your baby's ears.

33. Definitely carry a baby sling or a soft carrier/ wrap (in addition to a ton of toys), this will keep your baby comfortable and asleep on you without killing your back, act as a nursing cover up (though practice before so you don't flash a few rows of people) and keep your baby safe incase you pass out like I did (my brother was slapping me and I didn't wake up, or move Riaan, I was that passed out).

34. Change diapers just before you board the flight, its way easier on board than off. 

35. Warn people that it's your child first flight (or first flight "this long"), if you are worried about how your baby will be on board. You will gain sympathy and maybe some helpful advice. 

36. An umbrella stroller is definitely helpful if you have a long layover (or a lot of bags, and baby things, and a travel bed etc.) Gate check it so that you have it with you as soon as you land. (You can also use it as a high chair on your trip.)  For more on what to travel with, click here.

Umbrella stroller

37. People don't really get mad at the parents who are struggling to keep their baby quiet, so if you're apologetic (and if you have been on the other end of this you are likely to be very apologetic), and making an effort, all will be well, eventually. You may even get people offering to help you.

38. Take turns getting up and putting the baby back to sleep, or napping/ entertaining to make it easier on you and your partner, if you are traveling together. 

39. If all else fails, and it's a really long flight keep some baby benadryl on you! (with an MD's permission, and having tested it before as some kids get hyper and you don't want to discover that mile-high). I didn't have to use it but did keep some with me just incase, though I likely would have used it on myself.

It may not take a village to raise a baby but it definitely takes a village to fly with a baby and a puppy

Baby jet lag:

40. Breast fed babies actually jet lag worse than kids who are not breast fed! It's because we are making melatonin on the wrong time zone and that's being given to our child through their milk.

41. Even the best of sleepers of the most well trained babies, will be hungry at night, if there is a huge timezone shift. Nurse or feed them all day at their usual mealtimes (in your new time zone) but also give them milk or formula when they wake up at night because even if they are full, they will feel hungry at their usual mealtimes (in their old timezone).

42. When your baby is doing 45 minute naps at night, you may want to fly right back to where you came from. (Hang in there, it will get better).

43. At some point during our sleepless week, I did use the benadryl (on the baby, not on me, and out of sheer desperation and exhaustion). But it did no good, he was falling asleep initially (while I ate, pumped, got into bed),  and then doing those 45 minute nap cycles in the middle of the night. So my advice is skip it, and let your baby's circadian rhythm adjust naturally. 

44. As long as you keep them up in the day (for some portion of daylight time) and give your child meals and nap time during in the day, it will get better. Go outdoors for a walk if you can during sunlight hours.

45. We moved countries, and I also moved my baby to his own room for the first time. I got a lot of grief for it, but stick to your convictions and instincts. My baby is now sleeping better than he ever did because we don't disturb him by going in and out at night (nor can he smell me, my milk, or my boobs! and wake up craving food). I did these two things simultaneously so that he didn't adjust to one room and then have to adjust all over again. 

About you, new mom:

46. Maternal gatekeeping is a phenomenon a lot of us are prone too. It's our control over baby and daddy's relationship. So do your best to keep the gate open by encouraging dad to spend time with the baby and not interfering in how they interact. For more on this research from Psychology today, click here.

47. If you're looking for a fool-proof method of contraception, IUDs are nursing safe, baby safe, and as effective as having your tubes tied. They have no side effects for most people (beyond slight cramping on insertion), and are completely reversible, when you're ready to try again. Somehow, only 8% of the american public is aware of this (I don't have stats on other countries, sorry). Here is some more information I thought  worthwhile to share, recently published by Time Magazine titled "the best form of birth control that no one is using." 

48. A secret mommy tip: wrapping things in diapers are great ways to hide valuables on the beach or by the pool (in a clean one of course.)

49. Are you as frustrated with the constant mommy wars as I am? It's human nature to judge I'm not going to pretend like I don't (though I really try not to.) But do we really have to do so about parenting choices, like breast versus formula, epidural versus "natural" (yes, I took one and I'm so damn grateful for it), CIO versus nurse all night?  We are all in this together and most of us are trying our very sleepless best ! 

Mommy Time

50. Don't underestimate the power of sharing your stress with your mommy friends, it will really help you see that for some it takes a village to help raise their kids, for others, while we may want to do it alone but there will be hiccups along the way - hang tight, and trust your gut! Your baby will be all grown up before you know it. 

If you got this far, thanks for reading. Sorry this post is so overtly information packed, but I had a lot to share since I haven't written one of these in a while. I do hope though that it is helpful to you. Feel free to send me feedback or ask questions!
More to come!

P.S. I may be a little erratic in the next few weeks while settling down but I'm not going anywhere (at least virtually). Also, with all the jet lag (between, hubby, baby, coco and me), I definitely haven't had time to proof read this so excuse any typos! 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be replicated without permission. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

You know that you're a parent when..

Despite 9 months of being pregnant or experiencing your spouse's pregnancy, nothing can prepare you for what it will be like when your baby is living life on the outside. It took a while and a series of "OMG I am a parent!!!" moments to really sink in for me (specially since my motherhood journey, like most, started in a sleep deprived fog). Below are some of the moments that really helped me realize the full meaning of my new role and relationship.

You Know You're A Parent when:

  1. Your whites are no longer white (and your blacks are practically polka dotted).
  2. You have bounced around a mall, the vet's office, a doctors office, and every restaurant that you used to be welcomed at.
  3. The first sound you make when you are woken up is "shhhh shhhh shhhh."
  4. You begin to recite baby books by heart.
  5. You have figured out how to change diapers in a car, at the hair salon, in a car seat, in the middle of a restaurant, in a stroller on the sidewalk or at the beach. 
  6. You have run from a puddle of spit up in a store (of course, after trying unsuccessfully to clean it with a baby in one arm and the stroller and diaper bag on the other) and pretended like it did not belong to your little human. 
  7. You have been caught singing nursery rhymes everywhere you go. 
  8. You have zoned out of conversations with people because you were checking your baby monitor, or your phone to see if there is any news from whoever is at home babysitting your child.
  9. You can't remember when you last washed your hair (but you know that it's been a while).
  10. You can forget the whole world exists when your looking into your baby's eyes. 
    Case in Point!
  11. You have teared up watching someone else give blood or get a vaccine. 
  12. You have nursed in public despite looks from people who are weirded out and those who are trying to catch a glimpse (creeps!).
  13. You have accidentally flashed people while learning to undress under your clothes (or when your child decides to yank open your coverup.
  14. You have had your feet and shoes covered in spit so many times that you now choose to wear flip flops everywhere.
  15. You have had to separate the clothes in your closet that are not baby proof.
  16. You have showered with your shower and bathroom door open, just incase someone decides to wake up. 
  17. You have mastered the art of eating steak with one hand. 
  18. You push away the cutlery on the table before you even sit down, when you have your baby in your arms.
  19. You do the laundry more often than you get to drink and dress up. 
  20. You wake up in the middle of the night to change a soaking wet baby (sometimes because your husband forgot to put a diaper on him).
  21.  You know what spit up feels like between your toes (and have had to clean snot from someone else's nose.)
  22. You feel sick as hell but wake up and get to work (baby duty) anyway
  23. You realize that sleep deprived is your normal state (and you're not an investment banker) 
  24. You make restaurant decisions based on whether they have a changing table in the restroom.
  25. You can spend endless amounts of time staring at those tiny hands and feet.
  26. You know that your life will never be the same again, and you're happy with it anyway. 

It's the week of our big move - from New York to Mumbai, India. (Don't ask me why I have long forgotten.) So I may have a slight delay till my next post, but don't worry, I will be back! With tips and tricks on how to survive (if I survive) an endless flight with your babies, and how to relocate with a little one.
More to come!

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be recreated without permission. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

20 Life lessons learned quickly as a new parent:

My son is 6 months old on the 11th, and I cannot begin to count all the things I have learned from diapering and burping to a host of new age lullabies and nursery rhymes. However, I've also come to learn that those are the smaller parts in this parenting journey. There are much bigger, more meaningful takeaways that are really life lessons new parents get to learn.

From Baby to Mommy..

20 Life lessons learned during the first 6 months of parenting:  

1. Losing all sense of embarrassment
I started my labor and delivery experience by holding my gown together everytime I went to the bathroom, and ended it with not caring who walked in on me spread eagled and trying to push a baby out. This was a quick introduction into parenthood before my child was even born. I no longer have any shame about getting spat up on in stores, pooped on in the street, having to change a dirty diaper on a bench in Central Park (or the Southamption Dash store), nursing in restaurants and changing rooms, or having to sing lullabies at the top of my voice while try to eat a meal with one hand in a fancy restaurant. My husband definitely has this mastered too, as I'm sure all new parents do - you do what you have to do to keep your child happy (and relatively clean).

2. Parenting is a grand experiment with no immediate result. 
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Should I feed him now or wait till before we go out? Should I wake him or let him sleep even though we were expected somewhere 10 minutes ago? Should I pick him up or let from cry a few minutes? Can I feed on demand forever or am I spoiling him? Will he ever sleep again? If I finish my shower while he's screaming will it have a lasting psychological effect on my child?  I don't think anyone can predict exactly how many minutes of crying or nursing or rocking your child to sleep will have a long lasting effect on their child, not even Freud (and I say this with a degree in psychology).  You do the best you can and hope that it's enough to raise your child in the way you intend. 

3. Try and live in the moment instead of waiting on the next milestone. 
All parents are guilty of wanting their child to reach the next milestone, whether it's holding their head up on their own, rolling, sitting or babbling. I've heard enough moms comment about how they are jealous my child has hair and can't wait till their babies get there too. While it's natural to be competitive and curious about how your child is developing, it's also important to realize that your child will never be as small again as he or she is now. Try and keep that in mind and enjoy their current age. I'm definitely working on this one. 

4. Vanity, like embarrassment is a thing of the past (atleast for moms).
This doesn't mean we don't want to get decked up for date night or a girls night out when we seldomly get the chance. But on an everyday basis? Who has the time! Finding clothes that are not too big or small is an issue from the get go and then everything gets covered in baby spit up or poop explosions anyway! Plus, soft track pants or pjs, that don't stick to your new body are so damn comfortable. 
Before and after..

5.  Feeding a child is a full time job.
Whether your exclusively pumping, nursing or sterilizing formula bottles, newborns need to eat like no other, atleast in frequency since their bellies are so small. And as fun as it is to see your little one eating new foods and solids, between buying it, mixing it all together (or cooking) and then cleaning up the things and your baby it can add hours to your routine. Just at 4 months old I was spending 5 hours nursing my son, and that was before we started foods! I must admit though, I am possessive about my feeding time and love to do it all myself but it's definitely a task. (I can't imagine what my mom went through as I have always been a picky eater. Thank you for not giving up, mommy.)

6. Every moment is not going to be sunshine and roses. 
I couldn't believe that after 27 hours of labor I didn't get a chance to freeze time and fall asleep on the spot for another 27 hours. Not that I wasn't elated to hold my son but the whole baby journey starts out with exhaustion and keeps going until your child is sleeping through the night (till growth spurts, teething and sleep regressions hit). Not to mention all the hormonal changes mom is going through. You're not going to be happy all the time and that's ok, it makes you human and doesn't make you any less of a parent.
FYI, sleeping through the night for a baby means 5 consecutive hours (only)! 

7. Sympathize with parents of crying babies everywhere. 
Who hasn't (atleast mentally) cursed out the parents of a crying baby on a flight? That lasts until you have your own baby, and then you sympathize with parents of crying babies and feel bad for all the ones you were mad at in the past, because you know just how easily that could be you.

8. Forget about the 'me' time.
If your a hands-on parent, and I assume you are since you are taking the time to read about parenting, just forget about the me time. Unless, blogging on your cell phone about parenting while pumping before sleeping counts for anything. If you're a working parent, count that as your time for yourself since you are able to run to pee without the fear of your child crying or waking up.
I love you but please please sleep so that I may get to shower today..

9. Apologize a lot.
I maintain to date, that I am always right (particularly when it comes to arguing about anything at all with my husband), but as a new parent I find that I apologize a lot. To friends, for not being in touch. To my parents, for missing all their calls as I keep my phone away from my baby to avoid frying his brain. To my baby Coco, for not getting to hug him as much as I did before.  To my child, for when he gets vaccines, is gassy, is teething, crying for no understandable reason, or wants attention while I'm trying to gulf down a meal. And to my husband, for being exhausted and sometimes still in pajamas or covered in food (or worse) when he gets home from work.  It doesn't mean I'm not doing my best, but it's part of adjusting to all the change while remembering what your life used to be like. It also doesn't imply that you don't love things the way they are but you may end up apologizing a hell of a lot while you get there. 

10. Have days when you get nothing done..
Because I'm sure you still fed and played and took care of your child. Which is the most important thing you can do as a parent. Even if the laundry is piling up and your hair needs to be washed. 

11. Adapt and learn to make do with the time you do have.
My son won't nap more than 40 mins at a stretch (at most)! Which means I can't nap with him when I'm exhausted nor can I get too much done other than eating or bathing. However, I find that even without help and on days that I'm exhausted I learn to prioritize what really needs to be done and let everything else go. As parents, we are adaptable and can quickly figure out what our priorities are. I no longer get 10 hours of sleep that I have always needed but It no longer matters either. I will eventually have time for it all and not want to do anything but cuddle my child who won't be home. 

When days of the week no longer register..

12. Discover a new protective possessive side of yourself
I recently overheard my husband telling my son that (as a canine equivalents) he himself is a Labrador, Coco and Riaan, our babies, are both yorkies, but mommy (that's me) is a rotweiller. I was ofcourse offended at first and bit his head off, but then I realized that I'm protective as hell about my family and my babies, would bite the head off anyone who is offensive or hurtful to them, am careful about who carries my child and how they interact with him and I am also particular with how I react to my children (all three) so that they learn behaviors that I want them to. If that's what makes me a rotweiller, I will wear my fangs with pride!
And a stressed wife does better research than the CIA.

13. Train a baby just like you training a pet (and a husband)
Ignore the behaviors you don't like, and react (positively) to the ones you want to reinforce (reacting negatively can still reinforce the behavior). So ignorance in this case is (eventually) bliss. 

14. Be the first teacher your child with have.. 
And the best, since no one will ever be as attuned to their early needs and abilities as you. Make sure to keep teaching your child new things as they become sponges if knowledge and tricks before you even know it. Whether it's a high five, or a silly noise, it's important to kept the learning going. 

15. Gain confidence as you see them grow.
You may not have known how to diaper, burp or bathe an infant when your child was born, or how to rock your baby in one arm while you try and put laundry away with another. But you do now, along with a ton of other things that are all contributing to your child becoming a bigger and more able little human. Take a moment to sit back and appreciate all that you have accomplished with your little one. I know that seeing my child definitely makes me feel more able and successful.

16. Wine helps stop the whining.
Atleast for me, when I'm exhausted and my baby has finally slept (and I know he need to feed if he does decide to wake up), I get a reward in the form of a glass. Treat yourself even if you have to do it while getting the laundry done or sterilizing bottles. 

17. Forget about the camps. 
It doesn't matter if anyone else is breastfeeding or formula feeding, or if they let their child cry it out or co-sleep with them forever. At the end of the day, we are all in this together. (I agree that not everyone is angelic and looking out for the best of their children as bad things happen, but people who bother reading up on parenting are most likely not in that 'camp'.) We all have different circumstances and beliefs so let's not judge what we don't know. At the end of the day we are all parents and share a common goal of raising a happy and healthy child. 

18. Trust your gut and do what you believe is right for your child. 
Like I said, it's a big grand experiment. One that many have gone through and each have their own story, own version of advice and a different unique individual as the outcome! So, take in the information and advice that you want but at the end of it all, you have to make decisions that you are comfortable with.
At the end of it all, it's about you and your child.

19. Make your spouse an asset.
We may all be in this parenting experiment together, but if you're married, in a relationship or even if you're not but there's another parent in the equation,  the two of you are most definitely in this together! Don't play guessing games with each other, discuss what your needs are and where and when you feel you need help. Rely on one another for support and take turns at night! Babies can bring you both together but they can also tear you apart as sleep deprived, exhausted people, (some with bodies that have just been through all a human body can take), make for bad (or silent) company. 

20. It's worth every minute!
Through all the stress, ups and downs, busy moments, times when you have to dance and sing and jump to get a smile, and the sleep deprivation you can open your squinting eyes, you can look at your child and know that they are the most amazing thing in the world. 

Feel free to share any pearls of wisdoms you have that I missed! 
More to come! 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be replicated without permission. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Introducing your pet (fur baby) and your human baby:

Before there was an us, or a we, there was just Coco and me.

I fell in love with my puppy before I knew my husband existed, or that I would have a beautiful baby boy just after Coco turns 5 years old. He has been the center of half a decade and has brought immeasurable amounts of unconditional love into my life. I am a better person for it and he will always be my first child.
Coco, me and NYC. Summer 2009.

I know I am not the only one has loved and raised a pet with as much love as their own child. I definitely met people who told me that I wouldn't love my "dog" as much when I had a baby (or who almost got slapped by me for telling me I should give him away before the baby comes), but I knew that would never be the case and it isn't. I am even more protective of him now to make sure that he's well integrated and does not feel left out. Below are the steps I took to make sure that Coco remained comfortable, did not feel any sibling rivalry and did not feel left out or depressed through this transition.

(Note: some stress and confusion is invariable but the goal is to eventually make every member of your family love one other.
It is also easier to bring a pet into a family with a child than to start a family when you already have a pet.) 

For those who don't have a pet and are worried about the interaction, you should know that children with animals fall sick significantly less than those who do not have any pets. They get less colds, coughs, allergies, and way way more unconditional love (and licks) than those who do not. Don't believe me? Read more on Time magazine by clicking here

Oh, incase you didn't realize, I have no experience with cats. Nothing against them, but if you want to know about a cat and a baby I can't claim to have any authority there and don't know if this will help you. If it does, please let me know! :)


Things you can do to introduce your pet and your new baby: 

1. Make sure your pet knows just how much you love him. Coco spent 9 months cuddling my belly, no matter how big I got. Even though I reached a point where I wasn't chasing him around anymore he didn't care as long as he could come and cuddle me. (I'm sure he could hear Riaan's heartbeat too and got kicked in the face more times than I can count.) Dads - take over when mom is exhausted. 

2. They can often sense that a change is coming as they can smell and hear the changes in a woman's body. 
Nap time on my baby bump

3. Bring your baby furniture in early  (dads, this means you have to set it up too) . He needs to get used to them before the baby so that there isn't too much change all at once. 2 months or so before the baby is fine. Do it slowly and put on the swing and things that move to see if you get a reaction. 

4. Try to train him not to bark at night if possible - mine only barks when his ball is stuck under the couch or when the doorbell rings.

5. Train him not to go crazy with things with squeakers. I tried but I have a terrier so I just don't buy things with squeakers. The training did help though as he won't take any of Riaan's toys. (Used the same training as I did for the 'leave it' command. Feel free to reach me if u want more info on this.) 

6. Some people have rules about not letting their pets in the nursery or on furniture, I do not, but if you do, train your pet early. Some are stubborn and will take time to learn things while adjusting to the other changes around them. I've heard that way to do this is to keep your fur baby leashed and off the furniture until they get used it, but I don't have an issue with him on the furniture and refuse to leash him at home so I'm definitely not a resource here.  
Letting Coco sniff and test out the furniture.

7. Feel free to take a class on how to introduce your pet and baby, but keep in mind that most will advice you to get an expensive trainer, and unless you have a ferocious pet,  I don't think there is a need. (We took one and I thought it was a marketing gimmick, a few of the worthwhile points I learned are on here.)

8. I didn't plan to leave them on the same level unattended even asleep (eg, bed or floor) but I now know that Coco is no hazard to Riaan, it's likely the other way. Coco actually watches the baby/ will nap next to him and comes to me to let me know if he wakes up or is crying. 

9. Make sure you train your pet to know how to stay and leave it, if they don't already. This will be helpful if something spills and you can't get to it right away (with baby in one hand), and  when your baby is throwing food or spitting up  everywhere. 

10. We did a test before the baby was born and played a baby crying really loudly on YouTube. To see if he was stressed or reacted, he did for a minute but then calmed down. This helps you know whether you need to play it repeatedly to desensitize him. 

11. Another test is fawning over a doll of some sort to see if your pet gets upset with the lack of attention they are getting.

12. Signs of stress in canine pets: pacing, whining, barking, frowning, yawning, sniffing the ground obsessively, shaking off, ignoring you, not taking treats, licking lips, peeing/marking. (And in mine - trembling or hiding in the bathroom).

13. One of the many ways to get your pet used to the baby is to spray a scent on his things before the baby comes and also to spray the babies things with the same smell.  Maybe using a child friendly scent can help. I used a mild lavender spray. 

14. When the baby is born, send a swaddle cloth (or another worn baby item) home from the hospital and have your pet smell it or even sleep with it to get used to the smell of the baby.

Coco in Riaan's swaddle, a little sulky because I wasn't home.

15. When you get home, enter the house first and say hi to your pet and give him the kind of attention you would when you get back from a trip. Then go back out and get your baby (I had my husband wait outside with the baby and car seat, then go in and greet Coco while I waited outside and then I went in and held Coco while he smelled Riaan in his car seat) 

16. To do the actual introduction, (you can leash your pet if you find it necessary, I didn't) hold your pet, and then have him sniff the baby to get familiar. 

The big introduction!

17. This won't prevent your pet from wondering whether your baby is a you the first time the baby cries at home, but hang in there and keep letting your pet sniff your baby to know that he's human and not a toy. 

18. If your baby has heard your pet bark while you are pregnant, he will not be startled with barking and can even sleep through it (mine has from day 1). 

19. Your pet may be wary at first but try to give him as much attention as you can. 

20. My vet told me to ignore coco when the baby is asleep (so that he doenst think that he only  gets attention when the baby is not around). I knew that my fur baby isn't the jealous type, but if you think yours may get upset you can try this strategy. It wasn't for me.

21. I chose to try and give him attention even when I was nursing or busy, even if it meant I held him under one arm or  just kept my foot on him. Ofcourse, he got even more attention when I was free but I tried to be in the same room so he knew that the baby was also present.

Cuddles while Riaan was nursing

22. Giving your fur baby a treat when you are nursing or busy, is a great way to make your lack of attention a positive experience (seriously). I did this for the first two months and kept a bag of treats by my bed. He eventually started  follow me in and lie with me even after he got the treat.

23. Cuddles are important (with the baby involved too). 

Priceless baby cuddles

24. Do not ignore your child cause your pet needs you. Don't ignore your pet either but take your child along and tend to your pets needs. If you tend to your child first your fur baby will learn that your child is the alpha (pack mentality), and respect him too.

25. Hold baby and use your baby's hands to give commands (also to establish pack dominance), so that he eventually is obeyed too.

26. I bought a ton of dog puzzles to keep Coco busy when I was busy. Apparently they can take days to solve! My little yorkie though would get through them in minutes so ur did not buy me any time. 

27. Try to ensure that your pet's routine does not change too much when the baby comes and that they continue to receive a lot of exercise and stimulation. For example, I sent coco to daycare 3 days a week while I was working and I still send him atleast once or twice even now that I am home so that his routine doesn't get altered too much (specially since I cannot give him as much attention as I would like to when he is home).

28. If your pet shares your room or bed and the baby is now in your room too, it's likely that your pet will be (almost) as sleep deprived as you. Resist putting them in another room as they will feel neglected (and can even associate this with the baby). Don't worry, your pet will eventually learn to ignore the noise, even though you will not. 

29. As they got closer I noticed coco running up to the baby and licking him to show affection. I'm fine with this as long as it's not near his mouth. You can use wipes as needed but keep in mind that kids with pets seriously get sick a lot less often due to their increased immunity (thanks in part to the licking).

Riaan reaching for Coco

30. Once your baby is reciprocating the affection your pet is giving, beware that your pets hair doesn't get pulled, it will scare him off (atleast temporarily). Same with his tongue! 

End goal: Priceless to me

It's amazing to see now Coco's love for Riaan being reciprocated as my son gets more alert. He recognizes Coco's name even though he does not as yet know his own. That was always the ultimate goal for me and these were my steps to success. 

I don't know how this is going to go once the crawling starts, though I am sure it will also eventually be fine. Someday I will have a child to go under the couch, get the ball that's stuck, and play fetch! 

Hope this was helpful to all the dog lovers out there! 

More to come! 

P.s. Incase you are wondering why Coco wears Pajamas, it's because he gets cold at night. (No, I'm not kidding!)

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