Childhood

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Childhood is a stage in the human life cycle that occurs between the end of infancy and the start of the juvenile growth period (about the ages 3.0 to 6.9 years). Children are weaned from all breast feeding (or bottle feeding) but must be provided specially prepared foods due to immaturity of their dentition and digestive systems. Children require intensive care by older individuals due to the child’s motor, neurological, and cognitive immaturity. Childhood is characterized by relatively rapid neurological development and slow physical growth and development. Chmpanzees do not have a childhood stage of development. Chimpanzee infancy ends with weaning at about age 4.5 years and weaned chimpanzee enters the juvenile stage and must forage for itself. The evolutionary selection for the human childhood stage is that it frees the mother from lactation and allows her to conceive and produce another infant relatively quickly, that is every two to three years compared with every 5 years for chimpanzees. The childhood life history stage may have first appeared with the species Homo habilis, approximately 2 million years ago.

References

  1. Evolution of Human Growth, Bogin, B. , Human Evolutionary Biology, Cambridge ; New York, p.379-395, (2010)
  2. Patterns of human growth, Bogin, Barry , Volume Cambridge , Cambridge, U.K. ; New York, p.xiv, 455 p, (1999)