People ask me all the time. What is it like having small children and parrots living in the same house? To be completely honest it’s a loud, fun, messy, crazy adventure every day. There is never a dull moment in a house of 10. 2 adults, 2 boys, 5 parrots and a dog later it’s safe to say my house is anything but normal. Between the squawking and screaming and meals and messes my life is consumed by my family. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I often see people with concerns about how will their child get along with their companions. They have rational fears such the child being bit, or accidently leaving a door open, adequate time for everyone, etc. I completely understand but the answer is so much simpler than you realize.
My boys have been around animals, and birds since they were tiny little newborn babies. They have always had this as a part of their life, so for them it is very normal. It’s the same for you. If you had your companion before you had your baby, the baby has grown up listening and observing all the things that go on. Both my children have listened to squawking and screaming for so long they sleep right through it. Quite frankly these kids could sleep through a tornado. They have observed my daily rituals with our companions and they enjoy contributing in them. (Feeding, showering, playing) They were taught at a young age to be respectful and mindful of the parrots and do pretty good for being 2 and 4.
Once your baby is no longer sleeping 16 hours a day, and starts to become curious you may find yourself nervous or paranoid of the worst happening. The most common fear I see the child being bit by the Parrot. There are plenty of preventable ways to avoid this, but the truth is things can happen. You can only prepare so much and once that little one is mobile it’s merely impossible to keep your eyes on them every second of everyday and accidents happen in the blink of an eye. My children have both been bit and learned from the experience. If you have an extra hormonal parrot and you’re concerned about little fingers in the cage I suggest investing in a gate to place around the cage, or suspending the cage so little fingers are not able to poke inside. A parrot and a small child should NEVER be left unsupervised for the safety of the child and the parrot.
For your companion this is a difficult time also. This once screaming, crying baby is now mobile and you’re parrot is thinking. What is this thing banging on my cage, grabbing my toys and throwing things around? The sudden fast movements of the child scare our companions, and a child is unable to pick up on eyes pinning and tail flaring warning of “back off kid”. It is imperative you supervise your toddler and parrot when they are spending time together. With that being said them spending time together is also vital. You want your companion to accept this tiny human as a member of the flock as well. I always encourage treats or a light head pet while the child and parrot are both in a calm mood. You want to promote a happy atmosphere for them both to bond. Even sharing baby toys or baby food such as the Gerber puffs could be something just between the child and your companion. I regularly find my youngest child sneaking goldfish crackers to Marley, and for them it is a moment between the two of them. Marley knows this little human brings him things I would not.
The easiest way to involve your toddler and parrot are by doing simple things together. When you take your child for a bath take your companion with you as well. It gives you a chance to spend some time with your parrot while your little one is playing in the tub, and what parrot doesn’t love a good steamy bathroom? Want to take your baby for a walk in the stroller? Put on your companions harness and take him too! Kids playing on the floor? Give your companion a foot toy and let him join in on the fun. Eating breakfast? That Tstand is perfect for a parrot to eat breakfast with your toddler and he likes those banana pancakes too! Carving pumpkins with the kids? Your companion would be more than happy to take those pumpkin seeds off your hands. Putting up the Christmas tree? Your companion would love to shred the tissue papers and climb the tree. Cleaning your house? Put that companion on your shoulder and let him clean too.
Being a parent and a “Parront” doesn’t have to be hard, it’s about getting creative and making it work. Finding time to involve your kid and fid in activities together, and finding a balance to keep them both happy. Trying new things and failing, and discovering new things and succeeding. There will be good times, bad times and hard times. You will laugh, cry and want to scream but I promise you will never look back and think I regret my child learning empathy, responsibility and respect for one of the most beautiful creatures on our planet.