Siblings, Visitors and Pets at Home
Reassurance, patience and consistency are necessary elements to a sibling's successful adjustment to a new baby. These become more important when a long hospitalization period for the newborn is required. A child's age will determine the importance of trying to maintain many of their daily routines. Include them in special preparations for the homecoming. Have them draw pictures and visit at the window or in the Special Care Nursery, as our policy allows. Set aside special time just for them and show their importance to the infant as big brother or sister. Behavior changes are common among the siblings of newborns. Remember to emphasize that while some things may change most of the familiar features and habits of family life will remain the same.
Limit visitors to the immediate family during the first weeks following discharge. This is your time to enjoy your infant after the stressful stay in the hospital. While many will be anxious to see the infant for the first time, be firm about the importance of your time as a family and the need for a chance to settle in, establish a schedule and get much-needed rest.
Encourage hand washing for all who visit: remember that premature infants are more susceptible to illness.
Pet dander can pose significant problems for infants who were respiratory-compromised at birth. Allergies and asthma symptoms can develop early. Dogs require frequent brushing to control excessive hair loss in the house. More frequent dusting and vacuuming may be necessary.
For more information, please contact your veterinarian.