Before bringing a bouncing, beautiful baby boy into the world, I was a very happy mom to two precious pups. Our dogs had been part of our family… well, before we even were a family. Our boy, Skillet is 10, and we adopted our little girl Chili, 2, just after our first anniversary. Pets really have a way of working themselves into home & heart, so we knew that making sure there was a positive relationship between them and the new baby we’d bring home was a big priority. I want to share with you some of the things we did that I feel really helped us nurture a healthy bond between our dogs and our baby, that might help you do the same with yours!
Make pet-talk and cuddle time bump friendly.
This might seem a little silly at first, but as highly social creatures, dogs will pick up in your behavioral changes as well as those in your body chemistry and physical appearance as your belly grows. So talk to them about it! Use the word “baby’ and the name you’ve picked out lots while gesturing to your bump. Bring the dogs up close for sniffing. I also worked on “gentle” to teach them not to jump or bare weight on me and baby. Once Noah was born, I continued to use the same terms repetitively, so they would hopefully make the connection. Do I know that they get it? Of course not. But do they seem to? I think so!
Bring home baby’s clothes for hospital-stay sniffs.
While we were stuck in the hospital, my husband would bring home the baby’s hats, onesies and blankets for our dogs to sniff. Because scent is such a big part of a dog’s world, knowing baby’s smell will limit chances that they could feel threatened or territorial, as it will feel less like a tiny stranger invading their home and will create a sense of familiarity.
Give them one-on-one time.
My dogs are not the super cute, baby-loving types you see go viral on The Dodo. They didn’t grow up with Noah. They are now the spurned older siblings, and they definitely get jealous. Yours may be, as well. To avoid your pooches feeling too left out when baby is too tiny for them to be near, make sure to give them extra snuggles, walks and playtime, as well as occasional treats to make them feel special. As hard as it might be not to just lay down when baby is down in those early weeks, invest some time in your pets without your little one. It will make their adjustment into furry siblingdom so much easier.
Little by little.
As baby grows, work with your pets being around and near him. Let them sniff (and lick, if you’re willing) to get to know their new little human brother or sister. Practice gentle petting with baby, and redirect any hair, ear or tail pulling as little one gets more adventurous. You’d be surprised how early your baby can start doing damage (and to your head of hair, too)!
Even the gentlest of dogs still has animal instinct, so be sure to keep a close eye and stay within arms length when your fur babies are hanging out with your tiny tot.
Our geezer doesn’t care much for his baby brother, but since Chili is younger (and oh so spoiled) she plays hot and cold with Noah all the time. We are constantly using the tips I shared with you today, so I hope you find them as useful as we have! Feel free to share about your own experiences with your pets and babies in the comments below and tag us in your super cute photos @dumpydiapersblog on Instagram. We’d love to see them!
The plan? Weekly summer themes.
Hear me out.
I’m a planner. I work better with a schedule and so do my children. My children have never attended camp because I make summer both fun and educational (I can’t help it! I’m a teacher!).
Weekly summer themes can be incorporated anywhere, even with vacations. It works for children of all ages and with both free and expensive activities. All you need is a bit of planning and some research.
Let me break it down:
These are the weekly themes I came up with for this summer, with some help from my kids: Zachary, 8, and Oakley, 4:
Once you have your themes, now comes the research. With every theme, we go to the library once a week. It allows for quiet time, it’s free, it’s in the air conditioning, and it lets us chose books that help us learn about that week’s theme. We look for both fiction and non-fiction books.
Next, I think about local attractions and events that may accommodate our theme. Some of these are easy, like going to the science museum for science week or seeing the fireworks for the Fourth of July for the week focusing on America.
But it helps to think outside the box here. You don’t want to necessarily go to the same attractions your family would go to on a regular weekend. I like to find something we rarely do or even something we’ve never tried before.
For example, we plan to try the glass blowing demonstration in Hollywood, as it’s something they’ve never seen and we’ve wanted to try.
Summer is known for being kid-friendly so flipping through a local parenting magazine, such as South Florida Parenting, or searching online for a few keywords or even on Pinterest, can give you a multitude of ideas for your themes.
I like to look up free or cheap options to help keep costs down so we can often be found free museum days or at local parks with a magnifying glass. You could choose to just do a few weeks this summer.
Weekly summer themes can be as detailed as you want them to be. Have fun and happy summer!
Want to save these ideas for later? Pin it!
Our family is made up of myself, my husband and our three adorable, sweet girls. We have eight year old twins and a three year old. We are grateful to have grown our family through pregnancy and adoption– which often leads to some crazy questions and interesting comments. I usually share that we wanted to adopt first but most agencies don’t take a 22 year old seriously when they call. Also to note we are mere mortals and not Hollywood celebrities- so finances were a bit of a factor.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome made conception difficult: but thankfully not impossible. We celebrated when our IUI (or intra-uterine insemination) was successful and our sweet girls were born that following spring. When the twins were four, we decided the timing was right to pursue an adoption. Initially we wanted to try for an international adoption but our military life made that a little too difficult. I scoured blog posts, adoptive parent forums, and family magazines- basically praying my guts out the entire time that this would work before Uncle Sam moved our little crew again.
I stumbled upon an adoption consultant and had a gut feeling this is who we needed. We completed our home study and paperwork- and worked with her as she connected us to different birth mothers through various agencies and private adoption attorneys. My husband and I had such a strong connection to one woman in particular and she ended up choosing us to parent her baby girl. We spoke in July and our peanut was born in August. Yes, four weeks later! What an answer to years of prayers!
It was incredibly difficult to watch her make the decision not to parent our little Star: a selfless choice made wholly from love. We were able to be there when our youngest was born and I am so grateful to have been there to see her take her first breath. Every adoption begins with loss and that is not lost on our family. There is a woman who loves our little peanut so much and she misses her every day. We honor the choice that she made and are so grateful to her for this incredible gift.
Many have asked us about birth parent contact after an adoption. I think that is what scares people the most- what does that look like, what will be our relationship be, how much will he/she know about our family? Every adoption is unique. Our adoption is totally final- our names are on Star’s birth certificate; we are her parents. Her birth mom receives an update and pictures every year. We also like to send a Christmas update. These are the terms we agreed upon and we honor those. Some families have no contact, some Facetime or call. It just depends. Do not let this stop you from pursuing an adoption, if that is where your heart is leading you. It has shaped our lives so beautifully and can’t imagine being without this experience.
Our youngest is our mocha beauty- and I am super proud of my acquired hair skills. It is so beautiful to see our girls together- each unique in skin tone, hair, personality. We are a family knit together with this incredible love and I am grateful every day to be their mama.