An important part of having children involves keeping them entertained! What’s a better way to do that than adopting them a pet?! But if you do it too soon, it may become a burden for you. And who needs extra stress when raising kids? Not me!
We have fostered kittens since Astrid was around 18 months old. There were some close calls when she was too rough. (Any parent who's tried to take something away from a toddler knows they hold on tighter!) But having animals around has taught her many lessons. Like kindness, gentleness, letting them go to a new home, death, and needing medicine when sick.
The best age for getting them a less involved pet (like a fish) would be 3 or 4 years old. These pets are VERY low maintenance and daily feedings are all the care needed. A 3 year old can listen and engage with a simple request like “feed the fish.” Cleaning the tank may be more of a task for the parents but this could be a bi weekly or monthly thing. This will teach your child responsibility too which can lead to them doing more and more chores as they age.
For a cat or dog, five years old is the prime age for this. By the time a child is five, they can reach the sink and get the cat or dog water. They also have the motor skills to pour food into a bowl once or twice a day without large messes. Depending on the size of the dog they can also take them on a walk independently! With cats they can do the litter box.
No matter the age of your child, be sure to watch them the first few weeks and correct any unwanted behavior. In their excitement, children can accidentally harm small animals. And younger children don't understand certain things, like how fish need to stay in water.
Pets may seem like a hassle but they can keep your child entertained when you are drained. The first few weeks will be the hardest. Once you get one you will not be able to picture your family without them!