Children and chicks - Should they play together?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by chicknjane, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. chicknjane

    chicknjane Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 2, 2009
    Pine Grove, PA
    My 4 year old daughter and 2 1/2 y.o. son love to hold and touch baby chicks. I can't get my kids to pick up their toys, but they'll fight over who gets to help care for the chicks. I make them take turns so that I can watch them with the chicks to make sure they don't harm them. Well, last night my son held one upside down to see where the poop came from. The chick peeped because it didn't like being upside down. I told my son to put the chick back, he said "no" and held on tight. I think maybe too tight. The chick seemed fine last night and this morning. This afternoon, I found it laying away from the others with a little pasty butt, so I washed it off with warm water and kept the chick separate until she dried. Well she just kept getting weaker and died soon after, I couldn't get her to eat or drink.

    Am I wrong to let my children hold the chicks? [​IMG]
  2. Nyrial

    Nyrial Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2009
    Lake Stevens, WA
    My 4 year and 2 year old daughters are the same way. They want to love on them all the time. I let them hold the chicks, but make sure I supervise the whole time, as well as make them wash their hands and use sanitizer after.

    My 2 year old does have squeezing issues as well. I watch her extra carefully, and the second she squeezes too hard I take them away and she's not allowed to hold another one for awhile.. I have pried her fingers off before. Usually I let my 4 year old, who knows a bit better, to hold them while her sister is napping. I allow her to hold the littlest chicks, but stick to bigger ones with my 2 year old.. for the chick's sake.
  3. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Even some preschoolers have trouble differentiating between things that are alive and things that are dead. Death is a concept that is hard for them to grasp -- this is a developmental thing. Therefore, I think your children (at the very least, your two-year-old) probably does not understand that the chick is alive, delicate, and needs more care than his toys. It's probably why he injured it with rough squeezing and caused it to die.

    Personally, I would allow him to touch a chick if you were holding it, but otherwise, he needs to leave them alone.

    Maybe make interaction with the chicks a reward for cleaning up the toys? [​IMG]
  4. Stephanie-n-Hayden

    Stephanie-n-Hayden Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2009
    Yes. Children that young do not understand what harm they can do to such a small tiny chick. Image, if you will, a giant picking up your month old baby and tipping it upside down and then jossling it around and then squeezing it until internal damage is done. That is the case. Until children are old enough to understand the concept of "being gentle" then they should not hold baby chicks. My son is almost 6, and he is very gentle with animals. However, I still do not allow him to hold our babies much at all just for the simple fact that all it takes is one "I was thinking" moment and the poor chick is a gonner.

    Not to mention that chickens, especially babies, have a high level of salmonella that is potentially very dangerous to people, especially young children. It is just not a good idea all the way around to let young children hold baby chicks at all.
  5. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 23, 2008
    Bailey, Mississippi.
    I agree mostly with what the others say, it really depends on the child. I can't remember a time i didn't play with chicks and chickens growing up with them, 3-4 years old i was out watering, feeding, and helping my dad with them as well as playing with them.

    My cousins niece is another example, she's been playing with the chicks since she could walk. Always supervised though now at 3 she can be somewhat trusted.... She has her moments.
  6. Whisper

    Whisper Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 2, 2009
    My kids all help with the chickies, except for the baby and my handicapped daughter. The 2 year old is only allowed to hold the sturdier chicks-- I admit that he basically gets to hold the packing peanuts, cause I'd be upset if he squished one of my new layers or my dear banties.

    There's two bottles of hand sanitizer waiting for the instant they put the chick down, then they have to go wash their hands with soap and water.

    Kids don't always know what's "too tightly" and under the age of about 7 they have little understanding of death anyway. I just plan for the worst.
  7. Marbleheader

    Marbleheader Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2009
    Marblehead, MA
    We let our 5 year old and 3 year old old the chicks -- they were actually a little afraid (almost too careful) at first, but now the have no problems.

    Definitely a lot Purell right afterwards -- the 3 year old is hardly ever seen without her thumb in her mouth.
  8. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    You're certainly not wrong to let your kids handle the chickens. Obviously, precautions need to be taken, and you've learned a sad lesson, i guess. But everything is a learning process. It is very good for children to learn to take care of animals at a young age. And obviously, the handwashing thing.....[​IMG]

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