It’s normal for a child to want a pet, especially if his friends have pets or he watches shows or movies starring animals. He sees a furry (or scaley, his choice) friend who seems like they’d be fun to pet and play with. What’s not to like? That’s why it’s your job to ask the tough questions when faced with an adorable question: can Baby have a pet?
Is your family ready?
If you don’t already have a pet, adding one into your family can be a big adjustment. Even small pets like hamsters or fish require someone to remember to feed them and care for them. A bigger pet will need just as much feeding and cleaning, plus a little extra love and exercise.
If Baby has been interested in having a pet for a long time and shows responsibility in other areas, he might be ready for a pet. If it’s a new request and he is still not convinced that tooth-brushing needs to be a twice-a-day event, you might want to wait a bit. You should also take into account whether everyone in your family has previous experience around animals and is comfortable with them.
Are you willing to take care of it?
All parents talk a big game about how if their child wants a pet, it’s their responsibility. Well, you can remind Baby that it’s his job to help exercise them, feed them, and clean up after them, but ultimately it’s your responsibility to make sure the pet is alive and happy. Beyond that, Baby is still pretty young for taking on that kind of responsibility without a lot of helping hands from you, even if he wants to. It’s not your pet’s job to teach your little one lessons about responsibility, and you’ll be in charge of making sure your pet has everything they need. If you’re not willing to ultimately be the person walking, feeding, cleaning, and caring for an animal, a pet is not a good idea.
Does Baby have a pet in mind?
There’s a huge difference between a goldfish and a golden retriever. If Baby has made a miscellaneous request for a pet, you’ll want to dig a little deeper and find out what he is thinking. If he saw a dalmatian on a show about firefighters but you live in an apartment on the small side, that large and high-energy pet might not be a good fit. If he thinks tiny things are cute and wants a hamster, that’s probably pretty manageable. Discuss all of the different options for pets with Baby and the rest of your family and see if there’s a particular one that everyone is excited about.
Can you afford it?
Being able to afford a pet isn’t just about money, it’s also about time, energy, and stamina. You’ll need to assess whether you have the money to spare for food, grooming, vet bills, and potentially accessories like toys, shelters, tanks, carrying cases, or litter. In addition to the day-to-day costs of being a pet owner, vet bills can be unexpected and expensive. You’ll also want to make sure you have the time to take care of a pet, that you have people who can watch the pet if you’re traveling, and that you can physically do things like clean up after your pet or take them on walks.
There’s no question that a pet can bring more joy and love into your lives, but pets are equal parts fun and responsibility. It could help to do a little trial run with the pets of friends of family at first. If it goes well, and everyone in your family is on board, go for it! Expand your family to the next level! Little Spot or Whiskers or Scaley McScalerson will be very lucky to join your family.