|This article is about an older version of DF.|
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. This information is visible regardless of whether or not the child was born in your fortress.
"Resident" female dwarves may also give birth to children. This can be stopped or reduced by editing the BABY_CHILD_CAP setting in d_init.txt. 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 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 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.
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 as requested, but this cannot be relied on - their plight is normally ignored and they die of dehydration if the mother is disabled for more than a month or dead. 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 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. This storage job can also task food produced by other workers and other jobs, like plants gathered by nearby herbalists.
- When they want to, storing their items.[Verify] Yelling at them to clean their room has no effect.
- Children can enter strange moods.
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.
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 by default.
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
If there are too many children in the fort, FPS may suffer. Removing children is difficult, as doing so may quickly lead to tantrum spirals. One possibility is to burrow children outside to aid snatchers.
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.
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'.
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.