What Are the Best Pets for Kids to Get First?

Hilary Smith

September 1, 2016

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One of the many ways parents can teach their children about responsibility is through pet ownership. Giving kids the challenge of caring for another living creature is a tremendous learning experience. Along with their parent’s guidance, many pet choices offer affection in return for a child’s, love, care and attention. But if you’re thinking of getting your child a pet, it’s important to know What Are The Best Pets for Kids To Get First?

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But what choice do we make when getting an animal for them to care for?

It depends on many different circumstances, the child’s age, what they might be fond of and how much time they’ll be able to spend with their new best friend. Other than the many different breeds of dogs and cats available, here are some other choices for a child’s first pet:

An Ant Farm

While insects aren’t for everyone, owning an ant farm can be a visually stunning experience for some kids, who can watch them care for their habitat. A small amount of food and water must be added from time to time, but these little critters pretty much take care of themselves.


Brine Shrimp

Called sea monkeys in the past, these have been a longtime favorite among children and most often come in a kit.


These are a good choice for a starter pet since they don’t need much care, love or affection but they still require daily responsibility.

fish tank

While goldfish are a popular pick for a pet, some prefer to start out with a single betta fish, often called a siamese fighting fish. They very colorful and are actually easier to raise those most other breeds of fish.


Be prepared to spend many decades with this non-fuzzy long life favorite and as an added bonus, they’re non-allergenic due to their lack of fur.


But beware, in some rare instances, they have been known to transmit salmonella. Still tortoises require very little care and make great pets for small children.


Owning a bird is a little bit more challenging than caring for a fish or tortoise, but they’re very social creatures and make excellent pets.


A good choice for a starter is an inexpensive parakeet or canary as more expensive birds like cockatiels and cockatoos which require more care than their cheaper cousins.


Other than mice and rats, there are many other rodents to choose from like hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils, which are all great choices.


Although hamsters are solitary creatures, it’s often recommended to get a same-sex pair of those other rodents who are more social. To reduce the risk of a child being bitten, these animals should be acquired when they’re younger and gently handled often.

Of course you could always go down the traditional four-legged route and get your kids a dog or cat, but some of these other choices are good for beginners. Caring for a pet not only gives children a sense of responsibility, it also offers them educational value, a form of entertainment and enjoyment.

Over to you! Have you any recommendations for first pets for kids? Let us know in the comments below.

What Are The Best Pets for Kids To Get First-

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Published On: September 1st, 2016 / Categories: For Parents / Last Updated: March 30th, 2021 / Tags: /

About the Author: Hilary Smith

Hilary Smith has parlayed her love of technology and parenting into a freelance writing career. As a journalist, she specializes in covering the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She loves all things tech and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t peek her interest. The Texas native currently resides in Chicago, IL and braves the winters with her two children, ages 4 and 7.

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