Help your dog adjust to a baby

You spent nine months preparing for your newborn, but what about your other "baby" -- your dog?

"Most dogs are used to being the 'baby' of the family, and many have difficulty adjusting to the new family dynamic," said animal behaviorist Mary Burch of the American Kennel Club. "However, many gradual adjustments to your lifestyle can help prepare your dog for changes he will experience and ensure a smooth adjustment."

The AKC offers these tips on how to ease your dog into this new phase:

Start early. Make adjustments to your dog's schedule before your baby arrives. Make a list of all the ways your dog's routine will be changed. For example, will your dog's daily walk be switched from morning to afternoon? Will your pup have less one-on-one time with you?

Use sight, sound and scent. If any of your friends have babies, ask if your dog could be introduced to one of their new babies. Play a CD of a baby crying to acclimate the dog to the new sound. Before you bring your newborn home, bring a baby blanket home from the hospital so your dog can get used to the infant's scent. When your dog behaves well around these new stimuli, praise and reward it with treats.

Exercise. One of the best ways to combat any undesired behavior in your dog is through exercise. Make sure that your dog has plenty of time to exert energy by making the daily walk a priority, or hire a dog walker so it doesn't become bored.

Schedule time with your dog. After the baby arrives, things will be hectic. To make sure the dog stays a priority, decide on times when you can give your dog extra attention -- perhaps while the baby is napping, or make it a point to have your dog accompany you on walks with your baby.

MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE

Make a kid's comforter the easy way

If you can't afford to buy a new comforter for your child's bedroom or can't find one with a pattern you like, buy two flat sheets instead. Select bright colors to change up the color scheme. Sew up three sides of the sheets and slide in the old comforter. Tie up or stitch the fourth side.

If you don't sew, try a no-sewing technique using fusible web. It's a heat-sensitive adhesive tape that's applied using an iron. Fusible web is available at most fabric stores and online.

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH