Pets are something that families all across the world consider buying. Generally, pets are purchased to become companions of the family.
However, they are also bought for children. Pets are often bought for children as a means to teach them responsibility.
The pet becomes something that the child can feed, clean up after, etc, giving them an essential start to learning important life skills.
While a first pet is something to help teach a child life skills, it is important to choose an appropriate first pet. Not all pets are suitable as first pets!
Best Pet Options For Kids
The first step in choosing the first pet for a child begins with knowing what pets are suitable and which pets are not. A part of examining this includes looking at all the responsibilities that are associated with different pets.
Some pets require more attention while others require very little supervision. With this in mind, some parents struggle with whether or not to even get their children a pet.
Should I Get My Child A Pet?
When making the decision on whether or not to get a pet for your child, it is important, to be honest about the situation. Will your child be interested in the pet?
Will they really commit to taking care of it? Will you end up taking care of it more than your child? Because these questions are associated with the decision of getting a pet it is important to know which pets might be a good choice.
Overall, getting your child a pet is a great way to build a stepping stone for them towards responsibility. Pets are living, breathing things that have feelings and even low maintenance pets require a level of attention.
Another thing to consider when debating on getting a pet for your child is the age of your child. Some pets are more suitable for certain age groups.
This is because at certain ages children showcase a different level of understanding the needs of certain pets. Every pet has slightly different needs than others.
This can include what they are fed and how to clean up after them. While you certainly shouldn’t be the primary caregiver for the pet that you choose for your child, you can absolutely be a part of the learning experience with the child.
Taking care of a pet together is a great way to bond with a child. It becomes a teaching experience from parent to child. Whether it is a pet you have cared for before or a new pet altogether, this process can be a learning experience for both child and parent.
In the case of animals that grow and develop, like guinea pigs, it can really be rewarding to see the pride your child has in how it has helped an animal grow!
The crucial part of this decision is picking an animal that is suitable for the age of the child and once again, being honest about the commitment level that your child is going to have for the pet.
What Is A First Good Pet For A Child?
There is always some debate about which pet could be a good “first pet” for a child. While there are a few options that can be considered good first pets, each one comes with a different level of responsibility.
But what exactly does it mean to be a “good first pet”? Most people associate that phrase with a pet that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or care.
The fact of the matter is that every pet requires some type of maintenance. Some might be higher or lower than others and choosing the first pet heavily relies on that information.
Parents want their children to learn life skills through caring for a pet but at the same time, they don’t want to choose something that they will end up being stuck taking care of.
This simply isn’t fair to the pet or the family which is why being realistic about the care that will be provided is important as well as choosing something that is a right fit for your child and family.
So what are some good first pets for children? Below are the pets considered good first choices along with their expected level of care.
Good First Pet Choices For Children
Cats Can Be Loving And Low Maintenance
Cats are incredible animals with such spunk and personality. They might be known for their attitudes sometimes, however, they are absolutely low maintenance.
Once they’ve established where the litter box and food and water bowls are located, they generally do as they please. They do not need to be taken for walks as dogs do.
While it is true they should go to the vet for a regular check-up or anything else that might arise, the simple fact is that caring for them isn’t hard.
Moreover, cats are an engaging pet that a child will have fun playing with as well. As with any pet, a child should be supervised during any type of playtime.
Children can easily care for cats by playing with them, checking their food and water bowls, and learning to clean the litter box.
Hamsters Make Fascinating First Pets
Hamsters can be ideal first pets for children over six years of age. Much like guinea pigs, they require basics like fresh veggies and fruit, things to chew on for their teeth, and appropriate cages.
Hamster cages generally have tunnels that they run through and that connect together to help give them exercise and play space. It is important to provide this type of cage to help prevent them from getting bored.
Children will find them fascinating to watch when they are exploring their tunnels!
Hamsters are generally nocturnal so it is important to note that they should be fed in the evenings. Moreover, they are known to bite but usually only if they are disturbed throughout the day.
A part of a child caring for a pet is understanding its needs. If a child can learn the appropriate times to feed a hamster and how to handle a hamster, they will have success in keeping them as pets.
Knowing how to handle a hamster is important so that they aren’t getting out of people’s hands. The first step is to hold your hand out, palm side up, and wait for the hamster to crawl into the hand.
They should never be forced into being picked up. It should always be their decision. This keeps them calm and trusting of their owners. Once they are in the palm of the hand, they should be shielded by the other hand and cradled gently.
The other hand should act as a shield in case the hamster makes any sudden movements to jump away.
Hamsters, in general, are pretty basic to care for. The paper bedding in their cage is generally easy to clean. The basic care of these creature are the foundation for building a child’s sense of responsibility.
Responsibility means setting a routine that a child can follow through with. Through repetition of the routine, they will learn to appreciate the sense of pride that comes from caring for a pet!
Dogs Are Fun And Active Family Members
Dogs are a huge building block towards learning about the obligations that pets require. They can make a good first pet because of this and they are an active member of the family.
Moreover, for families with a fenced-in yard, dogs can be let out and children can still be a large part of its outdoor time.
Not all dog breeds are suitable for children. It is important to know which breeds are considered the best for children. Breeds like bulldogs, golden retrievers, beagles, chihuahuas and pugs are all great choices for a first dog for a family with children.
They are calm with children and have personalities that are perfect overall for family life.
Dogs also make a great first pet because cleaning up after them isn’t hard. If they are being let out into a fenced-in yard, children can easily clean up after them.
If a parent is talking a dog for a walk, older children can certainly tag along to be apart of the walk. They can also learn to clean up after pups while on a walk as well.
The bottom line is that dogs can absolutely create that thriving, learning environment that having a first-time pet provides.
It is critical that when choosing a child’s first pet that it is understood that they are more than a means of teaching responsibility. They are part of the family and a pet, not something to store in a corner and feed a couple of times a day.
Teaching your child that a pet has more meaning helps them be interested in sticking to the schedules required for feeding them or cleaning up after them.
If they feel like taking care of the pet is simply feeding and cleaning they won’t be as thrilled about having a pet. This is why showing them that the pet should be engaged with can be a lot of fun!
Low Maintenance Pets For Kids
Hamsters, cats, and dogs are known as the most popular first pets for children, however, there are other pets to consider as a first pet. Other pet choices for children are often pets that are considered “low maintenance”.
Low maintenance means that the pets require very little care. This isn’t to say that these pets still do not help with building a child’s sense of responsibility.
Any form of caring for a pet can help build responsibility, however, low maintenance pets are generally better for younger children who might not have long attention spans.
Lower maintenance pets are a great stepping stone towards pets that require a lot more care. It gives a child a small sense of what it is like to feed a pet and clean up after them without it being an extensive process.
With this in mind, what are some of the lower maintenance pets that a child can have? Below are the top low maintenance pets that a child could have as a first pet.
Low Maintenance Pets
Fish, Low Maintenance First Time Pets
Having a fish for a pet is as low maintenance as it gets! The best fish to keep as first-time pets are betta fish or goldfish. Both species of fish are generally housed as single fish in smaller bowls of water.
They only need feeding once or twice daily which is excellent for establishing a routine. They can be fed once in the morning and once in the evening.
The cleaning of the tank does require the help of an adult, but it still isn’t too extensive. This process should be done every few days or twice a week depending on the size of the bowl.
Smaller bowls need to be cleaned more frequently. If the fish is in a bigger tank with a filter, the cleaning schedule could be extended to up to every 10 days.
Sea Monkeys Can Be A Unique Pet Option
Sea monkeys are a unique pet option that was first offered in the late 1950s. Even to this day, sea monkeys are an interesting choice for a pet. They are basically brine shrimp that only require feeding.
Their tanks are easier to maintain than regular marine life and they only need to eat every 5 to 7 days. This feeding schedule is certainly different from other pets.
Because of their minimal maintenance and animation, while exploring their tanks, sea monkeys have remained one of the more intriguing pets on the market for kids.
Parakeets Starter Bird Pet
Parakeets are a wonderful starter bird as a first pet. These tiny, yet colourful birds aren’t as loud as other birds. These adorable birds love fresh veggies and birdseed which provides them with a well-balanced diet.
They require feeding daily, which once again is a great way to maintain and teach children about important routines.
Moreover, these birds can learn tricks and have been known to mimic sounds that they hear which makes them quite an interesting pet choice for a child.
There are other low maintenance pets out there, but these are the easiest for children to handle. These pets can be taken care of by children of mostly any age 6 and up and in some cases with adult supervision.
What Are The Worst Pets For Kids?
Pets that require more care than others are generally not a good choice for children. Although, that can differ child to child depending on their responsibility level.
To really determine what pets are “worst” for kids there is something else to consider as well: the potential dangers that a pet might have. So what are some of the pets out there that could be considered the worst type of pet for kids?
Worst Pet Choices For Kids
Pet Snakes Non-Venomous Ones
While snakes aren’t a high maintenance pet, they can be a dangerous one. Pet snakes aren’t generally venomous ones but some snakes can still bite which can be traumatizing.
Moreover, if a snake’s tank isn’t secure enough, they can escape. Children are always learning and if the tank isn’t secure, there poses a risk of the snake getting out.
The manner in which a snake eats could also be a troubling scene for some younger children. Snakes eat rodents, like mice, completely whole. This might not be a scene that all children can handle.
Snakes are pretty low maintenance when it comes to feeding them as they only need to be fed once a week or every two weeks depending on the snake’s species and needs.
Because a snake only gets feed once a week or every two weeks, it can be hard for a child to remember considering it isn’t every day.
Guinea Pigs Need Constant Fresh Hay
Guinea pigs are often the first thing that comes to mind when people think of a first pet. While these adorable rodents are generally easy to care for, they absolutely require a bit more attention than people might think.
In terms of feeding a guinea pig, this is quite possibly the easiest part of caring for them.
These cute creatures prefer having a set schedule for feeding time and should be fed fresh veggies twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.
This can include various lettuces, cucumbers, green peppers, carrots, etc. A child should always be supervised if they are old enough to cut up these veggies for a guinea pig.
Guinea pigs also require constant access to fresh hay. Their teeth are always growing and it is important that they have hay and chew toys made for rodents to help keep their teeth ground down.
Feeding them twice daily and refilling the hay rack aren’t very hard tasks for a child to do, but could be a lot to handle for some children. The hardest part of keeping a guinea pig as a pet is the cleaning of their cage.
Ultimately, their cage should be spot cleaned every other day and totally cleaned once a week. This could be a daunting task for some children, but with the proper teaching, it is possible.
Cleaning the cage of a guinea pig is also important to their health and fresh bedding simply makes their environment better for them. There are multiple ways to provide bedding for guinea pigs but the easiest way is by providing paper bedding.
It is best to use paper bedding so that there is nothing for the guinea pig to choke on. Paper bedding also absorbs urine quickly. It can easily be changed out and replaced with new paper bedding.
Older kids will be able to manage this a little bit better than younger ones since it does require a watchful eye to ensure it is getting changed as needed.
Guinea pigs also require vitamin c chews every day since their bodies cannot synthesize the vitamin.
Between cage cleaning, feeding them twice daily, refilling the hay, and providing vitamin c chews, guinea pigs certainly require a lot more care than people think.
This isn’t to say that guinea pigs can’t be pets for older children or young adults, just not younger children. While they aren’t quite suitable as first pets for younger children, they are docile animals that are incredibly cute.
They even get excited to see their owners and do something “popcorning” where they jump into the air. They have really big personalities for being smaller creatures!
Rabbits Mostly Need A Larger Cage
Rabbits are often misunderstood, much like guinea pigs, in the type of care they actually need. Along with fresh veggies and hay, they generally aren’t caged up like guinea pigs due to their size.
Rabbits vary in size but some are quite large. Generally, rabbits need to be able to roam freely within certain areas of a home. This gives them plenty of exercise.
This also means that they need to be litter trained. While litter training a rabbit can vary in difficulty, it still poses another thing that comes as responsibility for a child.
Turtles, Use Cation If Keeping As A Pet
Turtles are often thought of a good first pet for a child. These creatures are quite interesting, however, they aren’t necessarily a good pet for a child. Turtles carry salmonella which can make people ill.
If a turtle is being kept as a pet, any contact with the turtle or its tank items means that the child (or anyone else!) would need to continuously wash their hands.
Washing our hands is a natural thing that we all do, however, it is a tedious thing to do if we are trying to interact with a pet.
Salmonella is certainly a huge issue with turtles but they also require more care than one would think. Their tank needs to be adjusted as they grow so they have room to properly grow and the tank needs properly cleaned.
These things, along with the salmonella issue, doesn’t really make them a suitable pet for a child.
Pets are inevitably a wonderful addition to any family. Making the decision of what pet is best for the family is never an easy one but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one.
The things to remember are how committed will a child be to its care and will they genuinely enjoy the animal? As expressed, the best pets for kids are cats, dogs, and hamsters but other low maintenance pets can also be considered.
No matter what, finding a new pet to join your home is a thrilling experience!
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