Tummy Time with a Dog in the House

So here’s the thing, I know tummy time is important, but I have to confess I did not do it as much as recommended in the early days. Why? Well, my baby didn’t much enjoy it, so there is that, but more than that I was afraid of putting her on the floor much in general because we have a dog, a big dog, who likes to run to the door when she hears unfamiliar sounds, and I was afraid my baby might be trampled. Fortunately, there are some solutions. Here are the ones I have come up with.

1 Use a play pen 

If you have an especially hyper dog and you have space for a playpen, this seems like a good option while baby is on his belly. It is portable, so you can bring it into any room where you want to put your child on the floor for a while, and your pup can still hang out nearby without baby being in danger.

2 Use a baby gate to block a doorway  

Baby gates are handy because you can close off the room while still being able to keep an eye on your canine pal, and allow them to keep an eye on you, too. Plus, if you have stairs in your house, you will probably need a baby gate at some stage anyway, so why not get it early and put it to use for newborn tummy time?

3 Coordinate with your partner so they can take the dog for a walk while you do tummy time 

Especially in the very first few weeks, I found this was a win win solution for everyone in the home. My husband got a break from caring for mama and baby, Pup got a much-needed walk, and baby and I got to do play and tummy time on the floor undisturbed. 

4 Put your pup in their crate or on tie down 

My dog does not currently have a crate due to lack of space, but if we did have one I think I would have chosen to do this frequently in my baby’s first few months. Newborns do not do tummy time for long periods anyway, so most pups won’t mind the brief break in their crate or on tie down. Keep a special bone, treat, or other toy handy to entertain your pup while baby does their daily exercises, and soon they will eagerly anticipate this new part of your routine.

5 Practice tummy time with baby placed on your chest

This was the one way I always felt comfortable doing tummy time with my newborn. Baby was happier there, it was a sweet way to cuddle and bond with her, and there was no danger of an imprudent pups trampling paws. That said, if you do place your baby on your chest for their tummy time, be sure not to fall asleep with them there, as that can be just as hazardous as leaving them unattended in proximity to an animal.

It is always important to supervise your baby while they are practicing tummy time, especially with animals in the home. Still, you needn’t let anxiety about your pet’s behavior near your little one stop you from giving your baby time to wiggle freely on the floor. Above are a few measures you can take to make sure baby can practice tummy time safely with his canine friend close by.

If this article interested you, you can read more on my blog about raising a family with a dog in the home, or read more of my writing on dogs in general.

When Mama Is Not Enough

I was spending the afternoon at a friend’s house a couple of months ago. Her son, who was about 16 months at the time, loves books. I’d sat next to him and his mama while she read to him, but this time, he brought the book to me.

Woman reading a book to a toddler. Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

“Uh-oh.” I said, as he put the book in my hands. I wanted to read it to him, but it was in print, and I couldn’t. My friend laughed at my expression. 

“It’s okay. Just make it up. He won’t know the difference.” 

I did, with the book upside down for a while hahaha until he went and chose another book. I kept making things up, and my friend was right, he didn’t seem to mind. Still, I shuttered to think about the moment, months or years down the road, when my child would bring me a book that I couldn’t read to her. Would I react so calmly in that situation, or would I break down because I couldn’t do it for her. 

It makes me sad that I can’t read any old book to her, that I have to have specific books brailled out or in digital formats to be able to share them with her, but that’s not going to change, and in reality, it wouldn’t be any different if I were a sighted parent. Sure, I could read books to her without a problem, but I’d have other failures, distractions, difficulties as an individual that would be challenging in other ways, a detriment to her. I know without a doubt that my blindness has shaped me as a person. Would I be as good of a mom to my baby if I hadn’t been molded so? Considering I believe in a sovereign God who shapes every one of our experiences I don’t think so. He made me the way I am for a purpose, and he chose me, out of billions, to be my daughter’s mama. 

When encountering those moments, I think it is important to remember a couple of things.

1 God will use my deficiencies to shape my daughter, just as I have been molded by them and those of my parents. He is a good God, and he will redeem every one of them for his glory and good purpose.

2 It is inevitable that I will fail my daughter, and frequently, but when she feels the weight of my failures, she has a heavenly father to run to who will never fail or forsake her. Every single time I prove inadequate in some way, there is an opportunity for her to turn to the one who lacks nothing, who gives graciously of his own perfect being to each of his children in abundant measure.

And thus, what appears to me utter insufficiency will become for her wholly sufficient, not because she has all in me or in any created thing, but because she has Christ, and in him, she has everything.

Prepping Your Dog for the Arrival of a Baby

There’s a lot to do to get ready for the birth of a child. Furniture has to be purchased, clothes and toys need to be organized, and various other things in your home may have to be discarded or rearranged in order to make room for baby’s buggy, baby’s play pen, baby’s bouncer, etc. In the flurry of activity it can be easy to forget that our dogs notice all the new goings on, and might need a little support in making the leap from family life as it is now, to life when little one is born. So, what are some things we can do to make our dogs more comfortable with their changing family environment?

1 Allow your dog to sniff and familiarize themselves with new objects and furniture 

Your life will change dramatically when baby comes home for the first time, but so will your dog’s. Help him start making the transition early by familiarizing him with all your new baby gear. This is particularly important with some of our more modern baby accessories like bouncers, swings, or the like. Your dog may never have encountered some of these objects before, so it can help to introduce them to him before baby enters the picture. 

2 Think about boundaries 

Consider what things your dog does that already drive you batty. Those things will only become more stressful when you bring your child home. Now might be a good time to work on some of those naughty behaviors, or set some new boundaries that you think may be helpful when baby arrives. For example, your dog may always have been allowed on the bed, but you may feel it would be safer for baby for furniture to be off limits. If that is the case, he will not automatically assume this when you bring your baby home. It is important to communicate any new boundaries to your pup clearly and consistently in the weeks and months leading up to your baby’s homecoming to minimize risk and frustration in that busy newborn stage.

3 Observe your dogs reactions to babies and children in general 

If you do not already have small children in your life and the life of your dog, it may be helpful to introduce your dog slowly to the idea of having littles around the place. Is your dog sensitive about his paws, tail, or face being touched? It might be a good idea to work on positive associations with body handling. How does he cope with loud crying or squeals? Does he get overexcited around children and need to work on impulse control? Even if your dog is not around children regularly, you can help him build positive associations with children from a distance in public places such as parks or town centers, and general concepts like body handling and impulse control on your own time at home.

4 Set aside time specifically to play with and cuddle your dog

Just like bringing a new sibling home to your other children, pets can feel a little left out when all of your attention is suddenly devoted to baby. Get some good quality time in with your pet or service dog while you can, and consider when you might be able to work that time into your new life when your little one joins the family. That might look like handing baby over to your partner while you and Fido go out for a walk, cuddling up with your pup beside you while you snuggle or feed your baby, putting your baby in their bouncer or cot for a few minutes while you groom or play with your dog, or, in the earliest weeks, calling your dog to the bathroom with you so that you can pet them in the few seconds you have before your newborn needs you again (haha, I’m not joking. This worked well for me, and my dog started getting very excited every time I had to take a potty break).

5 For those with service dogs, practice working with baby gear before hand 

Give your canine partner the opportunity to work with some of the new things you might be using before baby arrives. For example, wear the baby carrier or pull the buggy with a sack of sugar in it while out and about with your dog. You’ll get some strange looks, but at least you won’t be doing it for the first time ever with your tiny fragile newborn. It’s a great opportunity to work out any kinks and do some additional training with your pup if it seems necessary.

6 Consider working with a professional trainer 

Sometimes, we just need a little help. If concerns arise for you that you feel are beyond your ability as a pet-owner/handler, don’t forget that you can enlist the aid of a professional. It is hard enough to juggle being a new parent and a pet owner or service dog handler without having extra worries on your plate as you make the transition. Working with a trainer may be one way to ease those concerns. It gives you a structured time to work with your dog on any undesirable behaviors, provides an excellent opportunity for bonding, and may be an important step to ensure the health and safety of your new wee family member. 

There’s a lot to do to get ready for the birth of a child, and with a canine pal already part of the family, there may be a few more things to do than usual, but with some forethought, a little bit of effort can go a long way in making for a smoother transition to life with a baby.

If this post peaked your interest, you can check out more like it in the parenting or guide dog categories of my blog. 

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 36!

We are finally getting toward the end of sharing my pregnancy journey with you. I enjoyed filming these videos so much, and am glad I will have them to look bak on in the future. In this update, I share about a doctor’s visit, virtual baby shower, and our final preparations for baby. Watch my 36 week update here.

Thanks again for joining!

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 30

The next update in my pregnancy journey! This week, I talked about some adaptive tools that might help if you are a blind parent yourself. Plus, my usual discussion of symptoms, a doctor’s appointment, and concerns. You can watch my 30 week update here.

Are there any tips and tricks that you’ve found useful as a parent to a young child? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget that you can subscribe directly to my youtube channel to hear more about my experience of pregnancy. As always, thanks so much for joining!

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 26

In the interest of catching you up on the pregnancy journey and my thoughts on motherhood so far, you can watch my update from my 26th week of pregnancy here.

As always, thanks so much for joining, and if you want to hear more updates like this, feel free to subscribe to my youtube channel directly.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlogs | Weeks 22 and 24

I realized I missed posting the last several videos concerning my pregnancy journey here! Belowyou can find the links for my 22 and 24 week updates. Check back again here to hear more about my pregnancy journey, or subscribe to my youtube channel.

For week 22, click here, and for week 24, visit this link.

Thanks for following along!

Christ Identifies with Us in Pregnancy

Not far into pregnancy, I quickly discovered, as I’m sure many women do, that morning sickness is one of the great misnomers of our time. Morning sickness? You mean all day sickness? And if you’re referring to the time of day that it’s the worst, rather than the time of day that it is there (AKA nearly all the time), I would have to call it afternoon or evening sickness. The first time I threw up during my pregnancy was around two Pm. My husband noticed I was losing color, and encouraged me to lie down. He had to run out for a few things, so left me with a pot, just in case. I wasn’t expecting to do anything with the pot; so far over the last 12 weeks I only felt like throwing up, but never actually did… but only a few minutes after my husband had departed, I reached for the pot and clutched it to my chest. 

Maybe it’s called morning sickness because you throw up everything you ate in the morning, I theorized vaguely as fragments of my first meal made their rather uncivil reappearance. Why IS bringing new life into the world such a painful process, I wondered then, returning shakily to my pillow. Sin, I think, is the answer to that question, but we needn’t stop there. After all, there is an answer to sin, that is, Jesus, and he endured discomfort, pain, and humiliation to bring new life to all of God’s children. 

I am struck by the way pregnancy and birth, with all the associated difficulty and sometimes embarrassing side-effects, can point us to the cross. In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to be saved, he must be “born again” (John 3:1-7). This is because Nicodemus, like you and I, was first born with a nature prone to hating and rebelling against God. That is, he was physically alive, but spiritually he was “dead in his transgressions” (Ephesians 2:1). 

But how, as Nicodemus quickly asks, can one be born again? How does this “second birth” take place? Jesus says that it is through Him. In order for us to be reborn, Jesus, the Son of God, became also the Son of Man. He was born into the humblest of human situations. He endured the difficulties of daily life, including being tempted in all ways as we are. Though he remained always without sin, he chose to take on the penalty of our wrongdoing and suffered death on a cross.

Christ knows, more than anyone, what it is to suffer on behalf of another. He knows what it is to endure discomfort and even agonizing, unimaginable pain in order to bring new life into the kingdom of GOd. When I remember what Christ did for me, that I might receive new life, the trials and tribulations of pregnancy not only become easier to bear, but become also an opportunity to share, if very shallowly, in the sufferings of my savior. Through my discomfort, I get the joy of bringing a new life into the world, just as through his suffering, Christ granted new birth to every believer.

It’s not the comparison itself that matters. Any potential pain in pregnancy and birth will be nothing compared to the infinite anguish born by our Lord, but only the fact that it points me to him, that in every step of this process, from headaches to nausea to labor, I can reflect on the things Christ endured to make me new. Not only that, but in the moments that I start to think “I can’t do this” (I’m sure that thought will come in labor if not before), I can throw myself upon the one who identifies in every way with my struggles, and in fact knows them far more profoundly than I. It is truly wonderful to have a God and savior who sympathizes in every way with our weaknesses.

Blind Mama Pregnancy Vlog | Week 16

Excited to share the next installment of my pregnancy journey! This week, I talk about baby’s development so far, my blind parenting tip of the week, symptoms (including one that might be TMI, so feel free to skip those few moments of the video), plus some of my thoughts at the time on parenting fears etc.

Check out my newest video here

And come back next week for more updates!