The Evolution of Childcare (& Washington, D.C.)


Our family took a road-trip to Washington D.C. this summer. After looking at the photos, I realized the subtitle of our stay could have been: how I carried my toddler son everywhere… in humid, 95 degree weather.

The impact of becoming bipedal in our evolution likely carried multiple benefits, such as freed hands, the ability to see farther over brush and grasses, perhaps greater endurance. However, there were costs as well, one of which would have been transporting highly dependent, altricial infants. Chimpanzee adults, being quadrupedal and hairier than us, have an easier time moving with infants than we do, since chimp infants can cling on to an adult’s back.

Hmong mother and infant, 1981

It makes me reflect on how our ancestors took care of their little ones. Humans have gotten around this through technology, from simple slings to carry an infant, to cloths for tying an infant to an adult’s back, to present day bjorns or strollers. A professor of mine at the University of Rhode Island, Marquisa LaVelle, used to remind us (half-jokingly) that our ancestors had “No pants and no pockets.” Where did they put their juice boxes and binkies?

Thanks to my wife for being the main photographer on this trip.

One thought on “The Evolution of Childcare (& Washington, D.C.)

  1. hi pat, great pictures, wonderful memories – did you arm fall asleep carrying owen??? getting ready to head back to school???? good luck this year love, aunt patti

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