Growing up with pets can help children develop empathy and learn responsibility. Often a pet can be a kid’s first friend! Though introducing them may present some challenges, it is possible to have pets and kids live together safely in the house. Here’s what you should consider when living with children and animals.

Can you care for both?

If you already have a pet at the time of pregnancy, you can look forward to introducing them as new friends. If you already have kids and you’re considering adding an animal to your family, make sure you’ve thought the decision out carefully.

Do you have enough space in your home for baby toys, pet toys, and two lovable little creatures running or crawling around? Can you afford to raise a child and an animal at the same time? Will everyone be fed enough, and well enough? It’s important to factor your finances into this decision.

Do you have enough time to bond with your little one, take the pup for a walk or cuddle with the kitten, change nappies, change litter trays, and so on? Remember that animals need our love and time too. You’ll also be cleaning up after pets and babies, so your housework load will increase. But, it can also be rewarding if you’re prepared! Always remember to have litter trays and animal food out of your baby’s reach.

Ask yourself whether you have the time, patience, finances, and emotional support to provide a safe, happy home for all members of the house.

Teach them safe play

Pets are often seen as another member of the family! Teach your little one to respect the pets as they would a sibling or friend. Young children should always be gentle with animals, as common pets like cats and dogs can easily be startled by sudden or rough play. They could lash out if your child accidentally provokes them, even if they’re usually friendly, relaxed animals.

If your pet does scratch or bites your little one, be sure to clean the area immediately and have it checked by a pharmacist or doctor if necessary. To help avoid these situations, teach your little one how to approach your pet and what types of touching and play are safe. When your pet is eating or sleeping, it is best to keep your child separate from them. Help them understand that this is their ‘private’ or ‘special’ time and they are not to be bothered.

Supervise & be an example

The best way to teach young kids how to play with pets is to supervise and model the correct behavior yourself. With babies and a lot of toddlers, you’ll likely be supervising your child’s activity anyway, but be sure to always pay close attention when they’re interacting with pets.

If you have the time and love to give to both your little one and pet, go for it! If you practice and teach good hygiene around animals and children and encourage safe and gentle play, they’ll be friends for life!

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