Dwarves are considered children for their first twelve years. They learn how to become a dwarf through living in and participating in dwarven society with no formal schools, apprenticeships or other formal learning; even parenting seems quite minimal.
In fortress mode, some migrant dwarves are married and may bring children. Children who immigrate to your fortress might be any age from 2 to 12, and there is no way to determine the age of a child.
"Resident" dwarves may also give birth to children. This can be stopped or reduced by editing the init file. Dwarves even can have miscarriages, which causes an unhappy thought for the mother but not for the father.
Children are listed last among dwarves on thenits list, and appear as a dark red dwarf:
When children are born, they are looked after by their parents, who will continue working, leaving the baby in the workshop if they go to get materials. It is thought that babies sharing a tile with their parents always lie down, not the parent. Babies do not have to be born in beds, but are born wherever the mother happens to be; the birth will interrupt the mother's current action. If the mother is sleeping, however, the birth may not wake her, and the baby will go about business as if it were a child. Often this means crawling to the dining hall or attempting to harvest plants/deconstruct walls. Still the game may report the message "...cancels sleep: seeking infant."
If the mother dies the baby will almost always head to the nearest ledge and throw itself off of it, they will continue to do this until they either die or they grow to be a child. Orphans are never adopted by other dwarves.
Children may not be assigned any labors, but perform some activities without any intervention:
- socialising, through arranging parties in meeting halls;
- harvesting crops, if the 'All dwarves harvest' order is on;
- removing constructions (such as walls, floors, ramps);
- filling designated ponds;
- hauling items to the trade depot;Verify
- eating, drinking, and sleeping as necessary.
Children may not be assigned to the nobility, although babies seem to be able to.
Children are also the target of goblin snatchers, who will sneak into your fortress and try to kidnap young dwarves by stuffing one in a sack and hightailing it out of there. Like stolen objects, children who are removed from the map are lost forever, for now. Toady has hinted that slaves can be freed in a future version.
Strange moods affect children in the same way as adults, though a lack of any skill will always result in an artifact craft made of stone, wood, or bone; unless the child was possessed, the result is a legendary stone crafter, wood crafter, or bone carver (depending on the artifact made) once the child grows up.
If one of your dwarves gives birth while in a strange mood, she will completely ignore her baby and focus completely on finishing her project. The baby will think that its mother is dead so it will attempt to end its life, but if the mother finishes creating the artifact before that happens, she will seek her child and they will behave normally (at least by dwarven standards, anyway).
At the age of twelve, children become adult dwarves. While most then become unskilled peasants, those who have successfully completed a strange mood other than possession will become legendary Craftsdwarves; those who help in harvesting plants throughout childhood may have built up sufficient experience points in the grower skill to become Planters, although it will list them as peasants until they skill up.
 Dwarven parenthood
As an oversight in programming, children's parents can become so preoccupied with finding their children that they can die of thirst. This is aimed to be fixed at a later update.
 Military Children
Although possibly not a bug, children with military mothers will be carried joyfully into battle and usually slaughtered wholesale. Deactivating the mother's military commission may be the best idea to keep the children alive and the parents from throwing tantrums when a stray bolt hits the child. However, If the dwarven parent in question can be kept happy, Dwarven babies make excellent combat armor.