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I’ve always lived with cats, and
I think it’s important for my girls to grow up with pets, as well.
It taught me how to respect and care for all sorts of animals, which
is something I want them to value. But some pets are more appropriate
than others for homes with toddlers. What pets have been good choices
for your family?
I think it's a great idea to have pets, but for us it's tough because our 6-month old daughter is allergis to cats and dogs. We have looked into hypo-allergenic pets, but have yet to find one that is affordable to us.
Personally I think that toddlers and pets do not always mix. That being said, we have a dog that I've had since college and so far the kids and the dog get along OK. I wouldn't say they get along great though. I think that the best pets for toddlers and babies are FISH. They are beautiful to look at and kids can spend hours watching them swim around. They are particularly soothing and calming especially for babies.
I guess that's why they have a whole collection of fish bowl stuff for babies!
My toddler runs around my house now and whenever she sees one of our cats either says, "I don't like her" or "I like that kitty," depending on who it is. She's learning who she needs to stay away from because they don't like being pet and which ones will welcome her little hands trying to figure out the gentlest way to pet fur. There's a healthy respect on both sides and we've struck a nice balance.
Of course, she doesn't like it when she finds one of them sleeping in her bed! They love her soft blankets!
In my experience, it is best to wait until the child is as least 7 years-old before you add a new pet to the family. Before the age of 7, the child does not fully grasp the concept of how to treat a dog/cat and this may cause the child or pet harm. However, fish are a great option, although fish do not live very long and may lead to sadness and grieving for the child. Nonetheless, a family should hold off on buying a dog, cat, rabbit, hamster, or any other furry pet. When my niece was 3 years old, she loved her poodle so much that she wanted to give her a big hug, but squeezed the dog a little too hard and the dog turned his head back and bit her nose, which resulted in stitches. Rabbits and cats can scratch the child, which can result in serious injury or infection. Children younger than age 7 treat furry animals like stuffed animals, which may irritate the pet and turn into a dangerous situation. Pets can teach an older child responsibility and make great companions. When the child can walk the dog or clean the litter box, that's a great time to add this new addition to the family!