#childsafety | Safety Tips For Having A Pet Bird Around A Baby

Birds make fantastic pets. They’re intelligent and curious, and help teach responsibility, respect, and empathy. But if you’re expecting a baby or already have one, you may be wondering how a pet bird will cope in a household with a newborn. Like with any pet, there are precautions to take to ensure your baby’s safety.

There are also things you can do to promote a positive relationship between the bird and baby. Keep reading to find out more.

Know The Best Type Of Bird

If you want to get a bird but have children or hope to in the future, then be mindful of what type you adopt. Not all bird varieties work well with children. The best type of birds for kids include:

  • Doves
  • Canary
  • Finches
  • Lovebirds
  • Cockatiels
  • Budgies (Parakeets)

These birds are smaller and tend to be more low-maintenance and quieter. They’re also known to be good at bonding with human companions, so your baby may have a lifelong friend. Additionally, since these bird varieties are smaller, there’s less risk of serious injury should they bite or scratch.

Conversely, bigger parrots (like macaws and Senegal parrots) have higher needs and be more territorial. The bigger the parrot, the more exotic it’s considered. They tend to live longer and have a higher cost of caretaking, none of which may be a good suit for a household with young children.

Please note that children under the age of 12 shouldn’t be the sole caretaker of a pet bird. They may not be as much work as a dog, but birds require rigorous care (some species more than others). It’ll be a long time before your baby can help take care of the family’s pet bird.

Hold A Positive Introduction

It’s not only efficient for children to understand boundaries with pets. You also need to help get the pet used to the child. If you have a bird and you’re bringing your baby home from the hospital, you need to hold a safe, positive introduction.

Dr. Laurie Hess, an avian specialist, explains that you want to teach the bird to be comfortable around the infant. They want to see the baby as a positive addition, not something to be fearful of.

Don’t overwhelm your bird. Hold a brief introduction where they can see the baby (but not come in physical contact with). Reinforce positive behavior by offering the bird treats. Make sure to return the bird to its home after and give it its space. You can gradually increase how long the bird is exposed to the baby as time goes on.

If you bring a bird home to a household that has a baby, use a similar approach. Introduce the baby and pet but keep them separate, so the bird can get used to its new environment. This minimizes the risk it’ll respond aggressively.

Don’t Let Baby Hold The Bird

Don’t let your baby hold the bird. Your child shouldn’t hold the pet until they’re at least 2-years-old and are able to do so gently while listening to parental instructions. Even then, this should only be done if the bird is hand-trained and has no history of intentional biting or scratching.

When your child is old enough to hold the bird, make sure they do so with parental supervision. Your hands should be underneath theirs to intervene should something go awry. Remove the bird if either the pet or child becomes panicked.

From a young age, teach your child how to interact with the bird, encouraging a soft voice, no sudden movements, and no shaking the cage.

Beware Of Bird Supplies

Birds and their supplies are often not very sanitary, even if you’re rigorous about cleaning the age. It’s possible to contract the following from birds:

  • Salmonella
  • Psittacosis (Parrot Fever)
  • Allergic Alveolitis (Bird Fancier’s Lung)

It’s important to wash your bird’s cage regularly. Follow up by sanitizing the area and washing your hands. Young children should never help clean up a bird’s cage, since the potential bacteria and disease that can spread can be more harmful.

The bird should never “kiss” your child. Additionally, whenever someone holds the bird or touches their supplies, they need to wash their hands immediately afterwards. It’s also smart to wash your hands before holding the baby, especially with pets like a bird in the house, to minimize the transmission of sickness. When your child is old enough to hold the bird, you can explain the importance of hand washing.

Finally, if your bird shows any signs of sickness, make sure to keep them separated from your baby and take precautions to ensure you won’t pass anything on to your infant. Take the bird to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

For more information on pet safety, we encourage you to speak with a pet care professional.

Sources: The Spruce Pets, HSE, Zupreem,

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