|This article is about the current version of DF.|
|"Children" in other Languages
Most creatures, including dwarves, start out as infants, then after a certain number of years become children, and then finally become adults. For dwarves, childhood starts after reaching one year of age, and continues until age twelve.
In fortress mode, some migrant dwarves are married and may bring children. Children who immigrate to your fortress might be any age from two to twelve. You can determine the age of any child by viewing their thoughts screen, which will give you the child's exact age as well as their date of birth. This information is visible regardless of whether or not the child was born in your fortress.
"Resident" heterosexually married female dwarves may also give birth to children. This can be stopped or reduced by editing the BABY_CHILD_CAP or the STRICT_POPULATION_CAP setting in d_init.txt. Dwarves can even have miscarriages (if they become dehydrated, starving, or are subjected to certain types of physical trauma), which causes an unhappy thought for the mother but not for the father.
Babies do not have to be born in beds, but are born wherever the mother happens to be. The birth will interrupt most current actions of the mother. The game will pause and announce the arrival of the baby. The mother will cancel whatever task she was in the middle of to seek her infant, and then will usually resume whatever task she was doing before the child was born.
Dwarven mothers can also give birth to twins or triplets, although that is exceedingly rare due to their [MULTIPLE_LITTER_RARE] token. Babies are looked after by their mother, who will continue working while carrying the babies.
Unconscious mothers will not wake up when they give birth - sleeping and resting in a hospital will not be interrupted. Dwarves in a strange mood will also not interrupt their mood when giving birth - cancelling a mood forces instant insanity, so that may be a deliberate coding choice to protect mothers (and children). Imprisoned mothers can grab their child if they give birth while on a chain, but cannot retrieve an infant that is out of their reach, which can cause massive problems, since a mother carrying a child is forced to drop it before being brought to prison.
If the mother is sleeping or otherwise prevented from collecting her infant, the baby will be free to roam as it pleases. An emancipated baby acts in a similar manner to a raving mad adult, wandering freely over the map without any sense of self-preservation, gravitating to meeting zones. It may be fed and watered by other dwarves, and in recent versions, such care happens regularly enough to keep orphans alive. As long as a baby is not within reach of a hostile creature, no harm will be done to it. "Job cancellation spam" can be generated as the baby is seen by the game to be "insane" (example: "Urist McBabyname, Dwarven baby, cancels Clean Self: Too Insane"), but once it reaches childhood (at 12 months), that will stop, and they shall go about their business like any other dwarven child.
The sex of a baby is determined upon birth. Reloading a save might get a baby of the other sex.
After giving birth, it is possible for the mother to become pregnant again immediately and give birth to another child nine months later.
Babies will crawl to burrows when assigned to them.
In fortress mode, children
are useless vermin cannot be assigned any labor, but they will perform a few simple tasks on their own:
- Socializing in locations. They might also hold performances like singing or reciting poetry.
- Picking out, and wearing, their own clothing.
- Eating, drinking, and sleeping as necessary.
- Harvesting crops, if the "All dwarves harvest" order is on. This will also increase their grower skill. It only happens very sporadically in the current version.
- When they want to, storing their items. Yelling at them to clean their room has no effect.
- Children can play with toys such as puzzle boxes or toy axes. They might also play make believe. Both are basically filler jobs without tangible benefits.
- Fighting or running from hostiles, depending on circumstances. Since children are small, can't use armor or weapons and all start without combat skills, don't expect them to be effective fighters. They can't be assigned to squads.
- Children can enter strange moods and will go about them the same as an adult dwarf. Since they won't have any skills other than social skills, and possibly growing or combat skills if involved in a fight, they will attempt to make one artifact appropriate for a bone carver, wood crafter or stonecrafter. They will also gain experience as normal if they complete it, except for possessed moods.
- Children respect burrows restrictions, including civilian alerts.
- Children will attempt to swim if submerged in water.
Children may not be assigned to the nobility. However, they can be assigned bedrooms.
If no tasks are available, they will gladly loiter in meeting areas, like dining rooms for example, for the duration of their youth. Children born in the fort tend to follow their mother by preference, even (especially?) if their mother is a soldier and is currently going into battle.
Children are also known to be invisible to vampires, thus making excellent crime detectors, as they speak truthfully in all cases.
The game will create an announcement when children reach adulthood and can be assigned labors. This announcement will not pause and/or center the screen by default.
 Dwarven parenthood
In the eighth DFTalk, it was mentioned that, due to a programming oversight, children's parents can become so preoccupied with finding their children that they can die of thirst.
 Too many children
To prevent a large population of children in the first place, it is preferred to set the BABY_CHILD_CAP and/or the STRICT_POPULATION_CAP in the d_init.txt file.
In the longer running forts, when a parent has more than 10 children of one gender, the 11th onward will merely be referred to as 'son' or 'daughter'. The exception to this is that the youngest will always be referred to as 'youngest son' or 'youngest daughter'.
 Non-dwarven children
Humans, goblins, elves, kobolds and subterranean animal people follow the same aging progress of dwarves (born as babies, becoming children at a year old then becomes adults at twelve). The same is true for some races of wild humanoid creatures and semi-megabeasts, though some possess shorter or longer child states than dwarves do, i.e. trolls become adults at the age of 10. Regardless of how long their child states are, intelligent non-dwarf children are functionally identical to their dwarven counterparts for gameplay purposes.
Young animals possess limited capabilities compared to their adults. Infant milk-bearing livestock can't be milked, young wool-bearing animals can't be sheared, and bird and reptile hatchlings are unable to lay eggs. However, unlike intelligent creatures, almost all animals follow a different aging progress; they skip the baby stage entirely and are born as children, who become adults at only 1 year of age (though they usually don't stop growing in size until the age of 2). Certain exceptions exist, however, such as elephants, who take 10 years to reach adulthood. Savage animal people versions of these animals follow this same aging progress.
Certain creatures possess no child state to speak of, and are technically adults at birth, having all the capabilities of an adult immediately after starting existing (though most of them are still subject to growing in size as they get older). These creatures include stuff like crundles, giant cave spiders, creeping eyes, magma crabs and most megabeasts. Inorganic creatures such as gabbro men, fire men and amethyst men also only exist as adults and never as children.
Creatures capable of being invaders can do so regardless of age. As such, you may be attacked by a werebeast child, or a young roc, giant, cyclops, ettin or minotaur. They will behave exactly like their adult counterparts, but will generally be easier to kill than adults due to their smaller size. Such cases are rare, as they require either children to be infected by a werebeast and not die in the process, or for megabeasts to breed, both being particularly uncommon occurrences.