Preparing my first baby

Dayton Children’s Soon-to-be-Mommy Blogger, Jessica Saunders

Although I’m pregnant with my first child – I should introduce you to my first baby.  Meet Bella, a three-year old golden retriever who isn’t exactly a candidate for a pet therapy or service dog – but I love her all the same!

As anyone who knew me before I was married – I was never a fan of dogs. But I knew a dog was going to be part of my future when I said “I do.” Now I can’t imagine my life without Bella and all of her antics.

My husband and I talked about a lot about the type of dog we wanted to get and by choosing a golden retriever we were hoping she would be a good family dog. As I’ve learned working in injury prevention at Dayton Children’s, regardless of the breed – dogs can be dangerous to children. After all – they are animals!

As our child grows we’ll teach the importance of not bothering Bella when she is eating (although she’s been great in that arena), or pulling her tail, or ears or doing other things that would scare her or upset her enough to bite – or even show her teeth.

But there are also some things we are trying that will hopefully ready Bella for a new baby.

One thing we are trying, recommended by a family member with multiple dogs, is that we’re walking around the house with a baby doll – in our instance a stuffed bear named Nixon.

The goal is for Bella to see us paying attention to someone else other than her.    She’s been our only child for three years and knows it!

How is it going? The first time we brought Nixon out Bella was a little scared and cowered away.  Then she got excited and jumped up a bit, now she might smell Nixon but quickly moves on to her bone or other things that dogs do.

We also have plans when the baby is born. Before we come home with the baby we’re going to bring home something that smells like the baby (hat, receiving blanket) and give it to Bella so that she can get accustomed to the baby’s smell.  A co-worker also suggested before we bring the baby inside the day we come home from the hospital I should come in and spend a few minutes with Bella before we bring the baby into the house. This way she will know I still love her – but she’ll smell the new baby on me and realize that something has changed!

I don’t claim to be a Cesar Milan – goodness knows Bella isn’t the most balanced dog in the world, and of course, I know Nixon is a long way from being an actual baby. We have to add in crying and new smells and all of the other things that go with an infant– but the more we can do to prepare our household, including our first baby, for a new family member – the safer home we will have.

Do you have an animal in your home?  Please let me know if you have any tips or tricks!  I’m open to anything to make the transition for Bella as easy as possible!

Bella and her new friend, Nixon


  1. Reply
    Jessica Peck December 8, 2010

    We set up the baby swing, rumble seat, etc. and turned them on periodically before the baby arrived. It helped our first babies (Ernie and Abbie, miniature dachsunds) get used to the new noises and new “furniture” around the house. It seemed to work well along with the ideas you already have!

  2. Reply
    Betsy December 8, 2010

    It’s Nixon! :)

  3. Reply
    Tina December 8, 2010

    I didn’t have a dog before my first born, but rather two cats. I also brought in blankets for the cats to smell so they would be prepared for the baby and know her scent. It turns out my late persian, Abu, became very motherly and protective of my daughter. Good luck with Bella, I’m sure she will make a great sister :)

  4. Reply
    Kendra December 14, 2010

    We had 2 cats when our first baby arrived. Tony brought one of the receiving blankets home that the baby had been wrapped in. He put it on the couch so they could get used to the smell. When we brought the baby home, the cats were still a bit confused because now the “new smell” squawked and moved! We never had problems with them wanting to be in the bed or being around the baby. If he did something they didn’t like, they would just get up and leave. If the baby would cry and we weren’t in the room, one of the cats would actually come find us and start meowing as if to say “Hey! It’s making noise in there!”

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