Parrots are playful, intelligent creatures that need entertainment and enrichment. If you don’t want to spend money on new parrot toys, you’ll need to find some durable, safe alternatives. Baby toys seem ideal, especially if you have some in your spare room or attic, but parrots have powerful jaws that can easily tear through them.
Plastic baby toys, unless made from acrylic, are unsafe for parrots. Also, soft, rubber-like toys can be torn and swallowed. Even thicker plastic, like PVC, can lead to chemical poisoning or shards getting swallowed. Wooden, metal, paper, and fabric baby toys are the safest options.
Any toys should be too large for your parrot to swallow. You can give your parrot blocks, chains, beads, xylophones, or reflective toys to keep it entertained. Baby toys rarely have sharp edges, making them far safer for parrots. Even stuffed animals will be of comfort to chicks. Just be sure to supervise playtime and replace compromised toys.
Do Parrots Like Baby Toys?
Because parrots are so intelligent, they need enrichment in the form of toys. While those designed specifically for parrots are the first choice, baby toys have their own benefits. They’re:
- Colorful, which parrots will curiously investigate
- Soft around the edges, so your parrot won’t cut itself
- Hard to swallow, as parrots are at risk of choking
- Make sounds/parts that clack together, piquing a parrot’s interest
- Soft and cuddly, which some parrots enjoy
Adult parrots will love these traits, but baby parrots enjoy them even more. According to the American Federation of Aviculture, chicks are shown to like soft, stuffed animal toys. The chicks will snuggle against and lean on the stuffed toys. Supposedly, this mimics the feeling of cuddling up to their parents, invoking a feeling of safety and comfort.
Toys also help young birds in their development as they pretend to fight with a toy. They thrust and parry, lunge back and forth and pull or push at the toy. These fights provide them with:
- Practice in gauging their bites
- Dexterity and agility
- Keeps them occupied and engaged
Can You Use Baby Toys For Parrots?
Depending on the material, baby toys are safe for parrots to play with. Adults will engage with the toys by:
- Chewing on them
- Throwing them around the cage, then retrieving them
- Pulling at the toys with their claws
- Knocking the toys against objects
- Holding the toys in their mouths as they bob and dance
- Poking and prodding at toys to see what sounds they make
- Rubbing their beaks on toys
- Hanging from the toys if they’re attached to a surface
In the wild, parrots don’t have specially designed playthings. Instead, they substitute with branches, food, and rocks they find. They will investigate the objects, toy with them out of interest, or use them to sharpen their beaks and claws.
As such, baby toys can simulate the same experience in the comfort of your home. As a plus, baby toys have many advantages:
- Baby toys are cheaper than parrot toys
- Baby toys offer more variety, with extra colors, baubles, and shapes
- You may have leftover baby toys in your home
- Baby toys can be found in nearly any store, while parrot toys are limited to pet stores
- Baby toys come in bulk, with several per package, while bird toys are often individually bought
Are Plastic Baby Toys Safe For Parrots?
Avoid giving your parrot soft plastic toys or those made of PVC. These can be dangerous to your parrot’s health when they lick it, or especially when they break it. It could lead to chemical poisoning, choking, or an upset stomach.
Aside from that, a parrot is more likely to chew through plastic than a baby. After all, a parrot’s beak is far sharper and more powerful. Human babies don’t have teeth in their early months. Because of this, many toys designed for babies are soft, pliable, or made of thick plastic.
Plastic toys are made with a combination of multiple chemical components. One of those components is polyvinyl chloride (PVC). According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, PVC is a synthetic resin used as the basic material in plastics, among other things.
Phthalates are chemicals used to soften PVC plastic. They could be ingested by children when sucking on toys or baby products made with polyvinyl chloride. Ingestion of phthalates has been linked to increased risks of:
- Kidney damage
- Interference with reproductive development
Similar harm can happen to parrots if they play with PVC toys.
Parrots usually know better than to eat non-edible objects. However, a chick may not have developed this habit yet. It’s easy to swallow a piece of plastic, assuming it’s a curious new food.
Doing so may cause the parrot to choke, leading to suffocation. If the parrot swallows it, the edges may cut its throat or esophagus. If it passes further down, since plastic cannot be digested, this could result in impaction or damage to the intestinal tract’s lining.
The same may happen to an adult parrot. If your parrot chips off a hard piece of plastic, it may enter its throat. For softer, more pliable materials, it may accidentally slide down its throat when your parrot rips a piece free.
Some baby toys contain flavorings to make them appealing to children. Your parrot’s digestive tract may be upset by the artificial flavorings. Avoid any toys that claim to have flavorings, smells, or additives.
Safe Baby Toys For Parrot Cage
Although plastic toys made from PVC are considered dangerous, acrylic plastic toys are considered non-toxic and safe. Acrylic is more difficult for parrots to chew through. If it does break, it’s likely to do so in thin crumbs, rather than shards or chunks.
If you want to err on the side of caution, it’s far better to go with metal. Certain baby toys are made of this so that babies aren’t exposed to chemicals. It also helps in the early teething stage, as these can be chilled to relieve irritation or ache from teeth growing in. For parrots, metal is ideal because it’s:
- More durable
- Cannot be broken or chipped
- Doesn’t contain flavorings or added chemicals
However, you should choose carefully, as there’s a risk of metal toxicity. Unsafe metals include:
Instead, safe metals for parrot toys are:
- Stainless steel
- Nickel plating
Best Toys For Parrots
When choosing a baby toy for your parrot, what’s the best kind? These options will be the safest for your pet and the most interesting for it to play with.
Most toys that are made of natural fiber are safe options. If the wood is ingested by your parrot, it can be digested without harm. Small fragments won’t upset your parrot’s stomach, and the rough grain will help your parrot sharpen its beak. Wooden baby toys for parrots include:
- Sticks or pegs
Ensure that the toys are not smaller than your parrot’s mouth. Ideally, they should be as large as the parrot’s head. This keeps your parrot from swallowing them whole. Likewise, avoid wood that’s heavily fragranced, cedar, or pine. The wood should be untreated or colored with vegetable-based dyes. You can play with your parrot using:
- Stack up blocks, teaching your parrot to do so
- Let it fetch a ring when you toss it
- Tug on chains with it
- Dance figurines across a table as the parrot nips at them
Baby toys crafted from paper or cardboard are ideal for parrots. These include paper dolls, small blocks, or colored chains. Your pet will enjoy:
- The crinkling sound
- Being able to rip and tear through it
- Being able to pull and bundle it up with their talons
Ensure that the paper isn’t colored with cheap dyes, which might bleed and be ingested by your parrot. Ideally, the toy will be made of cardstock or cardboard, which babies will struggle to chew through. Parrots certainly can, but the thicker material will be harder to swallow by accident.
Beads are a well-loved toy for parrots and babies alike. Because they’re designed for children, baby toy beads are large and thick, so your parrot won’t swallow them. They may come in square or rounded shapes, and be colored brightly. They’re on rings or strung along on thick strings.
For your parrot, make sure the string is made of 100% natural fiber. Good choices include:
- Hemp (jute)
If your parrot bites through it, accidentally ingesting a few stray pieces won’t be harmful. Avoid using nylon-blend ropes. Their strands are strong and might result in injury or cuts if the parrot gets caught in them.
The beads should be too large to fit completely in your parrot’s mouth. The beads should also be tightly packed onto the string, so your parrot is less likely to break it. If that criterion is met, your parrot will enjoy:
- Chewing on the beads
- Pulling at the string of them
- Tapping them against other objects
- Hanging from them if the toy is attached to side of its cage
Shiny And Colorful Toys
Shiny and colorful toys with a reflective surface are a treat for your parrot. Since they’re bright and eye-catching, your parrot will be tempted to investigate. It may peck at the toy, prefer it over other toys, or check out the movement of its own reflection. Avoid anything with glitter as it can enter the digestive tract or even its eyes.
Avoid toys with speakers or loud recordings, as this will startle your parrot. However, those with bells, trinkets, or baubles that clack together will intrigue parrots. Good examples are:
- Rings of beads with bells on either end
- Rings with 2-3 trinkets attached which slap together when shaken
- Hollow metal sticks with a ball in the center, which rolls from side to side when picked up
Your parrot will entertain itself endlessly by shaking, nudging, or poking at the toys. Every sound it makes will draw the parrot in to investigate further.
If you want to get creative, you can introduce the parrot to a baby-safe xylophone. Tap on the keys to produce a sound and watch your parrot mimic the behavior. By keeping it inside your parrot’s cage, it’ll even amuse itself with music.
As mentioned, some parrots enjoy stuffed animals, chicks most of all. You can choose a small fabric toy that your parrot can play-fight, pull at, and snuggle against.
Adult parrots will chew through the fabric more easily. As long as it’s natural material without dye, this will not harm them. Even still, avoid letting your parrot destroy this toy.
Replace it with a new one after your parrot has mostly ripped it apart. Ingesting too much fabric could eventually lead to impaction, and the toy’s stuffing may cause the same issue. Parrots love to play with baby toys. As long as you choose the right materials, and supervise playtime, it’ll be safe.