Growing up, I felt like the spawn of Dr. Doolittle. We had everything from dogs to birds to rats and saltwater fish (plus a bad experience with some anoles… Don’t ask). Now that I have kids, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the day that they’re ready for a pet of their own. Here are some great tips for getting your small child a pet which is easy and low maintenance!

Our oldest son turned three recently, and we felt that he was ready for his first pet. However, as you can expect, we will be closely watching him as well as helping him with care and feeding. (And we have a baby too, so we didn’t want an animal which would be too time consuming nor labor intensive).

So what kind of pet would he enjoy, would be affordable, and super low maintenance?

I thought back to my college days, and my first apartment. I had three or four vases all around my living room, each with a betta and some colorful rocks. I talked to my husband, and he agreed that a betta could be a great pet!

A betta, or fighting fish, is a gorgeous freshwater fish which does not need a filter. Essentially, you feed it once a day and change its water once a week. You do not need to buy a special tank, or even have a pump for the water. They are absolutely gorgeous and fun to have around.

We had taken our family to the beach for a birthday trip for our oldest, and we let him bring back some shells that he found. I boiled them in hot water for 10 minutes on the stove, and used those to decorate his betta’s tank. It looks fantastic!

Now I know that a beta is not particularly cuddly or cute, but any pet like a rodent or a dog is going to be significantly more work. (A betta is also great if you’re new to fish care since their tank does not require a filter nor pump). A water change for them takes literally less than 5 minutes, and can be done once a week.

I do suggest keeping the betta (and its food, and water additive) out of reach from your little one. Set up a specific time of day to check on your betta: feed it, talk to it, read to it if you like! I really want our kids to see pets (and all animals) as living things which deserve respect and need our help.

Maybe in another year or two, when our kids are little bit older, we will feel more comfortable getting something like a puppy. But I do think that an “easy” first pet is better; it’ll give Kiddo a chance to show me that he can care for another living thing, and a low-effort pet like a betta is an ideal first step for little ones.

So, without further ado, meet Bobo!

The Best Pet for Toddlers! - RealSimpleMama

I’d love to hear about your experiences with pets and kids!

Below are some affiliate links for the products we purchase and use with our bettas.

Your betta will need a tank (no filter nor pump required), decor, food, and water conditioner. Bettas can usually be found at pet stores and other large retailers like Wal Mart for less than $10.