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What Age is The Right Age To Introduce a Pet?

Animal lovers, are you considering introducing a pet to your family? If you have an incoming baby or already have small children, there are many things to consider.

Many people feel that their family needs an animal friend to complete the fold – dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, fish, snakes, the options are vast! Having a new companion can be so much fun and it’s very fulfilling to raise a pet, but when you have babies and small children in your household, it may not be quite as simple and you’ll need to think through your choice long and hard before adopting a cute critter.

Important Things To Consider Before Adopting a Pet


This is pretty simple; do you have the space for your chosen pet? Reptiles and fish require a vivarium or tank of an adequate size (you’d be surprised how big these habitats can be) and a furry friend like a dog will need ample space indoors and outdoors. Add a family into the mix and you’ll realise just how precious each square inch really is!


Only you will know how much time you have to dedicate to a pet; cleaning, walking (if you have a dog), playing, enrichment, feeding… Pets are time consuming and not just for Christmas! If you have spare time on top of raising a family, running a house and working, then a pet friend could be perfect for you!


One thing that many people forget when jumping in feet first and adopting a pet is the costs of upkeep! Food, toys, grooming, vets bills, and insurance really all do add up and if you’re already financially strained due to having children (aka Money Pits!), you may find it really difficult to sustain these costs. Do your research first, find a good insurance deal, plan your purchase needs and if you can do it, crack on!

Temperament of Potential Pet

This is a very, very important aspect to consider; what temperament will your new best friend have? With small children on the loose, it is imperative that your new pet is gentle, docile and non aggressive. Vet each and every potential candidate very carefully! If you still feel nervous even if you’re considering a pet who is known to be friendly around children, trust your gut instinct and don’t risk it until you feel more comfortable (perhaps when your children are older). It will save you lots of stress!

Tips From Our Community

Our online parenting community were very forthcoming with tips and advice about introducing a pet to your family – there were a variety of different and equally valid answers, just showing that there is NO correct answer to this question – it depends on so many factors and on how your family specifically would cope…

Bethany Collings: I personally believe past 4, once they’re old enough to know not to climb and to teach responsibility. If I got one now for Christmas (hypothetically) my one year old would be awful and wouldn’t understand his limits, a puppy would just bite and a lot of rescues won’t allow a pet of any type to go to a home with under 8s x

Kirsty Johnson: Ours was from birth as we had had the dog first and they have been best friends ever since xx

Amanda McAnally: I’d had my Jack Russell for 3 years before I had my little girl, we left baby things around and brought a vest home for him to smell before she came home from hospital, he’s great with her, she’s 4 months now and starting to become obsessed with him. They’re never left alone together just incase but he’s very gentle with her when he bothers to go near her, she always looks for him then just watches everything he does, I can’t wait to see them grow together.

Lia Angel: I had a cat before I had a human. I read that the best way to get a pet used to a new person moving into the house is to treat them like you would if you already had a child.

I used to show my cat the babies room and all her things. I also bought a second hand Moses basket and put it in the babies room for my cat to sleep in so she got used to all the smells etc. I’d also used to talk to my cat about the baby and include her in things like that.
My daughter is 3 now and they are so close. They are inseparable.

Getting Your Pet Used To a New Baby…

If you already have a pet before getting pregnant, it can be a little different. From the mummy tips that were sent in, we can see that acclimatising a pet to a new baby is very important and a great way to ensure that any pets you already have know that your little one is around. 

  • Let your pet spend time with you and your bump during the pregnancy; they can smell your hormones and sense baby as they move around, they’ll sense that you are pregnant. Bonding with your bump will help your pet to get used to the idea of a new baby.
  • Bring something that smells of your baby home before the baby and let your pets have a sniff.
  • Introduce baby things like their swing, toys, cot etc beforehand and teach your pets that these are off limits to them – be firm and consistent!
  • Make lots and lots of fuss over your pet and include them as much as possible to avoid jealousy.

We love this indepth guide by the American Kennel Club on introducing pets and new babies!

Share your own tips and ideas with us in the comments!

Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx

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