Why are human babies so helpless?

  1. Human adults have large brains capable of complex thought.
  2. Adult human brains are larger than the adult brains of most other animals.
  3. This means that more total brain growth will take place in humans than in other animals.
  4. So, by the time a human brain is able to control walking, for example, its brain will be larger than a calf’s at the same stage of development.
  5. The human brain is about on par with a newborn calf’s brain when the human is one year old.
  6. Since a one-year-old human’s brain (and face and skull) is too large to fit through a mother’s pelvis a human must be born at an earlier stage of development than babies of other species.
  7. Unable to walk, stand, or grab because their brains are so underdeveloped, human babies are helpless.
  8. Once humans reach 1 or 2 years old, they finally start to catch up with other animals.
  9. At this time other animals’ brains stop developing, while human brains keep growing.

Why Babies Are Born Helpless, Simplified

Humans are smarter than most other animals.

This is because our brains are bigger.

But when you look at human babies they don’t seem smarter at all.

Why is this?

Well, to understand, let’s pretend for a minute that brains are like gardens.

A human’s garden has rows of carrots, radishes, lettuce, kale, and zucchini. A cow’s garden only has rows of carrots and radishes. They both have the same amount of carrots and radishes but the human garden has more types of vegetables.

Now, we need to fit both of these gardens into a small bag – that is, the skull.

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Since the cow’s garden doesn’t have as many veggies in it, we can go ahead and add a little fertilizer. The veggies will grow a little bigger but they’ll still fit in the bag since there aren’t too many of them.

When we pick the two gardens and put them in their bags, the cow veggie bag will have just a few nice crunchy big carrots and crisp radishes. The human bag will have a whole lot of stringy roots and tiny little sprouts.

If we were to let the human’s garden keep growing to make nice big veggies, we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in the bag.

So the best way to keep the human’s garden small enough to fit in the bag is to not let it grow very much from the beginning.

So now let’s think of these gardens as brains again. When a cow is born it is able to walk. When a human is born it can’t walk at all.

This is because the part of the brain that controls walking is bigger in the cow’s brain (think crunchy carrots). But the same part of the human brain is just a little sprout.

It might seem like the baby calf is smarter than the baby human but he’s not really.

Someday, when the human’s brain (garden) has had a chance to grow more, it won’t just have carrots but it will also have kale and zucchini and all the other veggies. These extra veggies are like talking, going to school, and cooking.

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So, we don’t get to walk as soon as we’re born like cows do but they won’t ever get to do homework and talk about gardens.

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