Good Pet for Toddler

Updated on February 27, 2014
C.D. asks from Dawsonville, GA
26 answers

I have a 19mth old little girl and we would like to get her a pet I am not a huge fan of cats and my DH wants a bird I think she is to small for one to actually be able to play with it. so I would like some suggestions we don't have any friends with kids so she doesn't get a lot of play time other than with adults. My DH works nights and I am a stay at home mom and we really don't know where to meet other couples with children in our area and daycare isn't possible right now so I want her to be able to play other than with anyone who has had success with their toddlers enjoying certain pets I would love your advice. Thanks in advance.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Birds are too fragile to be handled by toddlers.

A good place to meet parents with toddlers is the public library, especially if they have story time or other activities for kids.

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answers from San Diego on

At 19 months you are not getting her a pet. A 19 month old isn't able to take care of any pets at all with any reliability or safety. At 19 months you can get help dumping a cup of already scooped food into a dish with your help.
We had cats before we ever had kids and have cats ever since. They are a part of the family. My husband and I are the ones responsible for taking care of them though, not the kids, until the kids were older and I could rely on them being able to feed them if I asked without me watching over them. My cats and my kids love each other very much and co-habitat extremely well.
Any pet takes a lot of effort and training on your part for both the animal and the child. You need to teach your child to play gently with the animal and not just blame the animal if it nips because baby pulled it's tail or picks it up wrong and hurts it. You can train a dog all you like but it's still going to defend itself if that baby gets out of hand and that animal feels threatened.
I hate birds. They are loud, messy and very high maintenance. They are very fragile and not really something a 19 month old could be taught to handle gently until she's older.
This question should really be what pet do *YOU* want to have and take care of. Your child enjoying it's presence in the house is secondary to the first question.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Do yourself a favor and do not get her a pet for entertainment. That is just a terrible idea.

First of all I am assuming that you understand that YOU will be the person caring for this pet, as no one can seriously expect a 19 month old could seriously assume any responsibility for anything and especially not another living creature.

If you child needs entertainment find other kids. Locate playgrounds in your area, find a church or playgroup, check your community centers (here they all offer very inexpensive playgroups), check into Mommy and Me classes (there are so many different kinds from Music to Swimming - many are inexpensive). If needed cautiously use the internet: meetup, facebook...

If you want to get a family pet that you and your husband are responsible for and that you and your husband will enjoy keeping healthy and safe (from your toddler), training (if needed) and socialized (most pets, even rodents and birds need regular social interaction with responsible humans to be enjoyable pets)... then get one. But don't do it for your toddler.
Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

A good pet for a toddler is one with stuffing in it.

We got a cat for the family and we carefully picked it so that it would tolerate DD. But it wasn't "hers". I would NOT pick a small animal for a toddler. They have no idea and either they or the animal would get hurt. Guinea pigs and hamsters are fragile. A bird could live for a very long time, depending on the breed. IMO, any pet for a child that young needs to be a pet for you and DH that DD just happens to interact with. A pet won't fix the desire or need to socialize with people, though a dog would give you an excuse to walk every day and get out in the neighborhood.

Regarding meeting people: Go to kid-friendly events (like library story time). Go to the park. Join a Meet Up or playgroup. Just go where you like to go and say hi. Sometimes I made a friend and sometimes I just exchanged a few words while our kids played. But the important thing is that I tried to get out at least once a week with DD doing something that wasn't about errands.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

A pet will just make a lot of work for you, and your daughter will barely play with it, even if it's a cat or a dog.

When my kids were little, we had every pet under the sun. You name the pet -- we had it. It was like a zoo in our house. After the first week of novelty wore off, the kids barely paid any attention to the pets, but I had a lot of extra work.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My kids are teens now and we've had many pets through the years. A pet really isn't a substitute for a playmate, and your child is too young to interact with a little delicate animal like a rabbit, hamster or guinea pig. A fish, bird or turtle would be fun to watch but they are not for playing with. When my kids were that age, we had cats and rabbits - but we already had them, we didn't get pets for toddlers. The kids were fascinated with the animals at that age but couldn't really play with them, and adult cats tend to sleep most of the day.

My suggestion for you, if you want your child to have time for socialization (which really, a pet doesn't give them) is to join a play group, or take your toddler to some kind of parent and me class (gym/swim/music/dance/free storytime at the library). This is typically how little ones with stay at home parents have socialization/playtime with other tots.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

A pet for a 19 month old is a terrible idea. There isn't an animal that will entertain her at that age. Pets are not a substitute for friends and human relationships.

Shift your focus to finding a play group, Mom's group or toddler activity. When my girls were small we were members at the YMCA. They offered tons of activities for little ones both with a parent present and without. I could drop the kids off at the "kids zone" and work out while they played in a group setting. It was very inexpensive, healthy and a really great way to meet other families.

There must be something like that in your area. Look into local recreation centers and libraries as well, they will have story time, swim lessons and activities for kids as young as 2-3 so you're almost there. Skip the pet for now and find some things that will give you and your daughter more human interaction, you will both enjoy it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

A pet is not the way to go. I love animals we have 3 dogs and a cat but we had them all years before my first was born. Small animals are terrible for toddlers and so are small breed dogs IMO. All these can be hurt easily and then bite. Cats are okay but you have to get "good one". Some are just friendlier than others. Ours is twelve and the kids can SOMETiMES pet him. He will bite you when he no longer wants to be touched. He will also bite you when his food bowl starts running a little low. Pain in the butt but we take good care of him. If YOU want a pet a would get a dog. I just love them, but know that they are a lot of work, it will require training and supervision and kids do enjoy them but this is not a substitute for a playmate. They novelty does wear off. Try looking on for a play group, a bible study at a church is good and she can play in the nursery while you meet other moms, or story time at the library. Could you sign her up for a mommy and me class of some sort? Like a Gymboree or gymnastics place.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

My son got a beta fish for his 2nd birthday. I know, I know, fish aren't that exciting for us, but he was thrilled to have his own fish tank and fishy. Pros are they are cheap, entertaining for the kiddo, easy to replace sneakily, and pretty much no maintenance. We also have a dog and 2 cats, but he was just as excited about the fish and he doesn't terrify it by "loving" it too much like he does the bigger pets.

If you want help socializing your daughter, a pet isn't the way to go. We've met a great group of friends through our library's story time, and also I found a local mom group on facebook that meets for weekly playdates. You have to be proactive in finding activities in your area, but once you start looking you will probably find at least a couple that will fit well with your schedule and needs.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

No living pets till the child is about 10 yrs old unless it is just for yourself.
In the mean time stuffed toys are just fine.

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answers from Washington DC on

she is far, far too young for a pet that she can 'actually be able to play with.'
a fish would be the only thing.
and bear in mind that whatever you get is actually going to be YOUR pet. your child will not be old enough for the responsibility of actual pet care for many years yet.
pets are great things for families. they are nightmare scenarios (from the pet's viewpoint) for toddlers.
do not get any animal that you yourself are not in love with and fully willing to care for.
use the internet to find meetup groups and library storytimes and activities for your daughter. but she is also gaining an invaluable skill by learning to entertain herself. don't put her and a small animal at risk by expecting a pet to take care of entertaining her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Try a goldfish. Toddlers don't really understand 'pets'; toddlerhood is a rough and tumble time, so puppies and kittens need a more mature 'pet parent' : kittens can jump, scratch and frighten kids (even older ones) and puppies will bite.

Please, do not get a bird. I had a finch for 10 years of its 12 year life and regretted the decision to get the pair after a couple of years. They can never be with their finch family, never fly free. Most birds are not for 'playing with', either. Either they are small enough that the toddler will startle them, or big enough they can bite, hard.

I also don't think pets are a good substitute for human interaction. Unless you get a dog who is older and who has been around kids, trained to be careful for young children... so look around for library outings. Go to the park, talk to the other parents there. Don't focus so much on finding 'other couples'.... we know plenty of other couples with kids but rarely get together as couples. Instead, focus on kids who your kid seems to feel comfortable around and moms who you feel comfortable around and go from there. From my experience, the relationships where the moms feel comfortable around each other and might choose to meet up at a park (great, there are no toys around to argue over, which is a hallmark of toddlerhood) or one or the other of your homes-- those end up being the relationships which can develop over time and sometimes last for years.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

No pets for a baby!!

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answers from Columbia on

1. Go to the park. There are usually kids there with their parents.

2. No live pets for a toddler. Start with stuffed toys. Visit friends and family with friendly animals. You don't get a pet for your kid to play with, because pets aren't toys. They are living beings.

We've always had cats and have had no problem with them when the kids were little, but we didn't adopt our cats to be playthings for our children. And we always protected our cats and carefully taught the kids how to touch them, and removed the cat gently when the kids became too excited or boistrous.

Our pets aren't for the kids, they're family. If the only reason you're thinking about getting a pet is to give your kid a plaything, you're wrong.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Too little for any pet really. Especially a bird or something small like that. She is too likely to hurt it at that age. And a pet isn't going to play with her or be her friend or interact with her. Even cats and dogs aren't guaranteed to do that. I have cats and a dog and they really don't interact with us much at all. And they run from little children who come visit. The only "pet" I would even consider for someone that little would be a fish.

Try the local library for story time, or go to a park or a play place at a mall. Look into classes at a local park district or gymnasium. Do that instead of looking for a pet.

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answers from Chicago on

Goldfish is the only age appropriate pet that comes to mind.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Okay, if the question really is about getting a pet, then the obvious answer is a dog. Anything else will be too "delicate" for a toddler to actually play with. Don't get me wrong--I love animals! In my lifetime I've had rabbits, fish, many cats & dogs, birds, a pony... Currently, I have a dog, 3 cats, and a turtle. You can find lovable dogs in any shelter in your area, however, you have to be aware that a lot of them come with "baggage" and may not be a good fit for your family. Look into rescue groups in your area--they will have a much better idea of the dogs' personalities and can set up home visits before you commit to adopting.

Now... what I think your *real* question should be something more like: Where can I take my kid to interact with other kids and meet families in our area? Go to your neighborhood parks, look into Gymboree (or other similar small-business), go to bouncy houses, family fun center, kid-day at the museum, etc! My dd does go to daycare, so she gets plenty of "socialization," but I still take her to places like this on a monthly basis. It's just something fun and kid-friendly that we can do together.

Either way, good luck, mama!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

Get stuffed animals and do creative play. They will be "real" to her for a long time to come.

Kids do not need a pet until later. She will only grab at a pet now and for the next yr or two. She is still a baby.

Nothing takes the play of reading, talking to her and creative play --including going to the local park.

A goldfish when she is 4 is great. Even threes would not know not to knock the fishbowl off the table.

Go to your local library, join a Mommy and Me class, call your city's recreation Center. Seek out a free-play gym/gymnastics class...

See if your town has a Moms Playgroup!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I would suggest a cat if you want to get a family pet. A dog is more work than another baby. A bird is for looking at, not playing with. A pet will not take the place of her playing with other children, so maybe focus on getting her around other children. I would suggest taking her to the places that parents with children frequent, such as playgrounds, fast food restaurant play areas, the YMCA, the zoo, a children's museum, the library and community center play groups. Let her be around other kids, and you will be able to meet other parents. When my kids were that age I belonged to two different playgroups, we had memberships for the museum, the zoo and the YMCA, they went to story time at the library and I figured out when the local daycare took the kids to the playground and I brought my kids at the same time as them so there were always lots of kids to play with.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree that a bird is too delicate. And they can be aggressive. A cat won't play with your child. Most cats hide from kids. Some breeds of dogs like kids, and if you are willing to put a LOT of effort into this (because you have to feed, walk, and pick up dog poo) AND you are willing to adopt an adult dog (because a puppy is too delicate), that might work. A fish would be nice, but it is not something to play with, just to watch.

Rather than a pet, I suggest you find playdates for your daughter. You can start with your local library, which I see has scheduled organized toddler activities. And it's free!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Greensboro on

Oh yes too young for a pet unless you are wanting one :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

My daughter has been raised in much he same way... Hubby works nights, and we only had one vehicle, which I would use for school during the day (my Dd came with me to school, where my SIL and I would switch off watching her in the common room while the other was in class..) we had recently moved, so didn't know anyone in the area. The only time she ever saw other kids was when we went to the park, which was only a couple of times a month until she was around 2.5, then we moved again so we could walk to the park a few times a day.

Honestly, I am kind of glad... She is now able to entertain herself very well, and doesn't depend on something else to so it for her. And, she hasn't suffered any social setbacks as far as I can tell. She is almost 4 now, and in a preschool speech therapy (speech issues run in my family and her dad's...), we go to the park often, and to story time at the library... And she NEVER has a problem finding a friend and interacting with him/her appropriately.

I completely get where you are coming from... I felt extremely guilty while she was stuck playing by herself while I worked on homework, or when she barely got out of the house for a month... BUT, honestly, kids that young don't *need* interaction with their peers as much as older kids/ adults do. Just make sure you are taking some time to play with and read to her, and hat she has plenty of things to keep her occupied. Play dough, sensory tubs, do it yourself instruments... Things like that will provide her with far more entertainment than a pet (that, no matter what you get, will have to be closely supervised for both it and your DD's protection whenever they interact...) Pinterest has TONS of cheap, easy ideas to keep toddlers independently busy.

Otherwise... My younger brother LOVED my ferret around that age. I think birds are far too delicate for a toddler to be handling, though they are fun to look at. (Though, for a look-at pet I would go for a fish... Lol.) I know my brother and I had guinnea pigs when we were young... But he killed them on accident trying to give them a bath. :/

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Try your local library.
They usually have a toddlers reading time, pet visits, etc.



answers from Charleston on

We got two kittens when my little one was 4m and older was almost 5yrs old. My little one loves the cats, and one of the cats is very friendly towards my little one. The other is ok but runs off more frequently.

Where do you live? You should look into MOMS Club International or MOPS or other similar groups for SAHMs. You will meet other moms and kids who are at home during the day so you can get out of the house with them and have friends! It is also good for socialization for your little girl. MOMS Club dues where I am are $25/year, so quite affordable and many activities are free within the club too.



answers from Muncie on

Birds are noisy and tend to bite. Even affection is "nibbly" with birds and flesh isn't bird "nibble" friendly. She wouldn't be able to feed them or play with them.

Fish. She can care for them herself. Feed them and watch them swim around, but not be able to play with them.

Hamsters. She can feed them herself, but they too need to have a "no touch policy". Unless you are willing to watch her like a hawk. They also can escape on their open and a 19 month old is liable to open the cages when you aren't around.

If you want something she can actively play with. You'll need something larger. A cat or a dog. Even then you need to invest in training both the animal and your daughter. Dogs have been known to freak out around small children and cats have claws. One typical toddler yank or thump and you could have a problem. She may be able to feed them, but walking and litter boxes are going to be all up to you until she is much older.

Everything has it's draw backs, especially since your girl is still very young.

We have 3 cats. A 7 year old and a 16 month old. Only recently have the cats allowed my 7 y/o to pet them. Forget about them letting the toddler near.

Good luck!


answers from Reading on

I would only consider a dog at this age, and I would not allow the dog and child to play unsupervised. Pocket pets, fish, birds - all require a lot of work and supervision and/or will completely bore the child after a day or two and you'll be stuck having a pet of your own.

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