Great First Pets for Young Children

By Bonnie Conrad, September 14, 2019

Taking care of a pet is a great way for parents to teach their kids responsibility, but it is important to choose that first pet with care. Parents who want their kids to learn responsibility and compassion should choose a pet with reasonable care needs - a pet that requires a lot of care could sour the child on the whole concept of pet ownership. Worse yet, choosing a pet with extensive care needs could mean that mom and dad end up taking care of it.

So before you buy your son or daughter a puppy for Christmas, you might want to take a step back and look for more appropriate first pets. Here are some good ideas for your child's first pet.

#1. A Goldfish

It does not get much simpler than a goldfish, and these interactive pets are great for teaching kids about the beauty of nature and the satisfaction inherent in caring for another living thing. If you have room for a bowl or small aquarium, you have space for a goldfish, and this is one pet that will not cost a fortune to buy or care for.

#2. A Pet Rat

Images with permission from Pixabay

This one may not be suitable for everyone, but pet rats are gentle, calm and easy to care for. Male rats tend to be calmer, while female rats are a bit more energetic. If you can get over the squeamishness of sharing your home with a rat, you will find that these small rodents make great pets.

#3. A Guinea Pig

The Guinea pig has long been a favorite first pet, and for good reason. Most Guinea pigs are perfectly content to sit in your lap and enjoy your attention, and their care needs are pretty minimal. If you have room for a large cage and enough money to buy shavings and food, a Guinea Pig will make a great first pet.

#4. A Betta Fish

Betta fish are perfect first pets, and just like goldfish they are easy to care for. Male betta fish are known for their brilliant colors and spectacular fins, and they are perfect for small aquariums and can even live in a fishbowl. Your child will have to settle for one betta fish, though - they will fight if two are placed in the same tank.

#5. A Hamster

Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash

The humble hamster has long been a favorite with parents and children alike, and these tiny balls of fluff make great first pets. It is a good idea to buy a young hamster and handle it extensively - hamsters can nip small fingers when agitated or frightened.

Most children have a natural love of animals, and caring for a pet of their own is a great way to teach those kids compassion and empathy. Even if your child is not quite ready for the responsibility of a cat or a dog, they can still learn to care for another creature - just head out to the local pet store and bring home one of these five first pets.

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