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 they are twelve years old.
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. You can see this information regardless if the child was born in your fortress or came to it as a migrant with its parents.
"Resident" female dwarves may also give birth to children. This can be stopped or reduced by editing the BABY_CHILD_CAP setting in the d_init.txt file. Dwarves even can 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. Talking to a child causes a good thought. Children are known to start parties, being idle much of the time.
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 (even sleep). 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 immediately resume whatever task she was doing before the child was born.
Dwarven mothers can also give birth to twins or triplets. Babies are looked after by their mother, who will continue working while carrying the babies.
Babies usually share a tile with their mother. If the mother is sleeping, hospitalized, or imprisoned, however, 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. It will be fed and watered as requested (as long as a dwarf is available, rather like a semi-mobile injured dwarf), and as long as it's not within reach of a hostile creature, then 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 gender of a baby is determined upon birth. Reloading a save might get a baby of the other gender.
After giving birth it is possible for the mother to become pregnant again immediately, and give birth to another child nine months later.
Male dwarven babies may be born complete with long beards and very long moustaches.
In fortress mode, children cannot be assigned any labor, but they will perform a few simple tasks on their own:
- Socializing, like starting parties.
- Removing constructions (such as walls, floors, ramps).
- Eating, drinking, and sleeping as necessary.
- Harvesting crops, if the 'All dwarves harvest' order is on. This will also increase their grower skill. Naturally, almost all children will grow up with at least proficient in growing. They will also store the harvested food in a stockpile, fetching a barrel if needed.
- When they want to, storing their items. Yelling at them to clean their room has no effect.
- Children can enter strange moods.
- Gathering plants, if another dwarf is already doing it.
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. The game will create an announcement when children reach adulthood and can be assigned any labor. This announcement will not pause and/or center the screen.
 Dwarven parenthood
In the eighth DFTalk, it was mentioned that as an oversight in programming, children's parents can become so preoccupied with finding their children that they can die of thirst.
 Too many children
If there are too many children in the fort, FPS may suffer. Removing children is difficult, as this may quickly lead to tantrum spirals. One possibility is to burrow children outside, so they may be snatched.
To prevent a large population of children in the first place, it is preferred to set the BABY_CHILD_CAP in the d_init.txt file.
Migrant children with any novice or better skills may have those skills enabled upon arrival at your fortress. This is relatively rare, and will most often lead to migrant children planting seeds, but if they previously completed an artifact they might start accepting craft jobs. Any such skills cannot be disabled until the child becomes an adult, though unwanted tasks can be limited with profiles and burrows.