Why Are Babies So Helpless?

We humans have always been arrogant with the fact that we created technology, and gained the ability to enslave the rest of the animal kingdom to do almost our every bidding. We ride horses, make dogs carry sleds, push bees to make honey for us, and dissect insects to do scientific experiments. However, there’s something that is out of place. Why are human offspring weak and inferior to most other animals at birth?

Many animals are capable of being independent within a very short period of time after birth. The giraffes you see in the zoo are capable of walking within one hour after birth. If you give them ten hours, they can even run and catch up with the adult giraffes.

Meerkats can hunt and eat scorpions when they are only two month old. Human babies can’t even sit up properly until we are four to seven months old. Of course, there are logical theories that explains this, but most theories only give a partial answer. How, there’s one main theory that explains why human babies are naturally weak. It is because we are all born prematurely.

Human Babies Are Underdeveloped At Birth

Even though I mentioned human babies are born prematurely, being born around nine months is relatively normal. However, compared to other animal species, human babies are born relatively underdeveloped.

There’s proof that we are born without full development. For the first few months after birth, the top of our skull isn’t even fully fused yet. It is soft and it beats like a heart.


Two are two theories that explains why human babies are born underdeveloped. First explanation is that we begin to develop high metabolism around eight to nine months in our mother’s womb.

In other words, when a mother is nine month pregnant, the baby’s developing rate and resource burning rate is so high, it is beyond what the mother can handle. The mother’s body instinctively calls it quits and gives birth to the baby.

The second theory that explains this is that humans are designed to eventually have a really large brain (which explains the intelligence) relative to other animal species, so we are born without exploiting all of our potential immediately.

During the first three years of a baby’s life, most of the body’s energy and resources are focused on developing the baby’s brain. If a baby is allowed to develop maturely before she is born, then there is no way her head will fit through the birth canal. If this was the case, every mother will need a c-section.

A baby’s brain is designed to grow big at a very rapid rate. How rapid? At three months after birth, the baby’s brain is already more than half of an adult’s brain. When a mother gives birth, a baby’s head already barely fits through the birth canal (explains the difficulty of giving birth vaginally). Imagine the size of the baby’s head multiplied by 1.7 (20 inches jumped up to 34 inches head circumference). Sounds pretty scary to me.

This brings up the next topic. If a human baby brain got all the resources for development, then why doesn’t a baby human seem smarter than a baby meerkat?

As mentioned earlier, meerkats are already conscious of food gathering, and hunting enemies at two months of age. At this point, humans babies can do almost nothing. Surprisingly, it turns out the helplessness of babies have a major impact on evolution.

The Second Theory – The Parents’ Intelligence

There’s a theory out there that humans became more intelligent because we are pressured to take care of weaker babies. In the animal world besides humans, it is common sense for parents to abandon their young ones in a very short period of time. This is especially true for reptiles, parents literally abandon their children right away after birth and never come back.

Taking care of yourself is one thing. To be able to take care of yourself while being handicapped with a young life requires a great deal of intelligence.

Having great survival skills for yourself is not enough, because babies aren’t as resilient to danger as adults are. For example, catching a cold for an adult is different from catching a cold for a baby. If the baby develops a fever, it can be lethal.


When we, humans are burdened with the task of protecting a weak baby, we force ourselves to think ahead. This is important, because it is not good enough to be able to create an environment in which the strong survives. The goal is to create an environment so that the strong and the weak can both survive together. If a predator or a difficult situation shows up, we can’t simply run away like a lizard does.

Under these kinds of circumstances, human parents are pressured to evolve and develop intelligence, while our baby gains the luxury to be “more helpless” during the early stages of her life. Gaining intelligence is one evolutionary advantage. Another advantage of having weaker babies is that we are forced to spend more time to bond with our children.

Theoretically, the more time you spend with your child, the more love and bonds will form between you and your child. At some point in the future, when our child grows up big, and strong, our child literally becomes our companion and helper for survival in the future.

Parent and child can help each other survive and plan things together. Of course, this is assuming that the parent was a relatively good role model for the child. If a parent behaves no differently than a cold blooded lizard, then the child should be expected to grow up as a cold blooded lizard also.

Having weaker babies might also explain why humans tend to be social creatures. When human parents are handicapped with weak babies, it is more advantageous to stay together in large groups to help each other out.

Members that are part of the social group can exchange knowledge, experiences, and resources with each other. This is why human intelligence can develop by leaps and bounds faster than other species, because we tend to team up despite our selfish needs and goals.

How Does The Baby Benefit Being “Dumber?”

While it is true that dumber babies develop smarter adults, but how does that benefit the baby?

Animals of other species develop survival instincts and capabilities at a younger age, but that is exactly what limits them from making the same achievements that humans make.

Human babies are “dumber” in a sense that they can’t defend themselves from danger. However, under the protection of intelligent parents, they can devote most of their time, effort, and energy resources to learning from their environment, and developing advance goals, or goals that is not related to survival.

Most animals that are not humans probably don’t consider what they are going to be ten to twenty years from now. An eagle will simply an eagle. It is very unlikely that a eagle will suddenly want to become a chemist eagle at some point in the future. A crocodile will simply continue to terrorize other aquatic prey in the waters. You will probably never witness a crocodile that wants to join Hollywood and become a crocodile star.

Maybe someone will force a crocodile to be a cameo without his permission, but the crocodile will certainly not have decided it on his own. I have also never heard of cows that tries to overcome poverty and get rich. Becoming a chemist, becoming a celebrity, or trying to get wealthy are advance goals, that only humans will pursue. None of these goals are required for survival.

Other animal species will usually put more effort into finding new prey, migrating to warmer climates, or finding a good place to build their nests. Humans are the only animals I can think of that pursue goals that is not “survival related”.

Let’s face it, we humans are arrogant species. It is not enough to simply survive. We want to become everything, and control everything. We don’t submit to environments. We go through great efforts to make the environment submit to us. If we see that birds can fly, we invent airplanes. If we notice that bees can detect UV light, we create machines that detect and manipulate UV light.

Humans are such innately greedy species, so the time and resources required to develop such the human brain will be much more intense compared to other animals. This is why human babies will give up natural muscle power, and survival power for the sake of learning, thinking, and planning power. At birth, we would be physically no match for many ferocious predators because most of our body’s resources are devoted to developing our greedy brain.

However, the laws of nature aren’t always in favor of developing our brain. If you don’t use it, you lose it. If our brain is trained to live a certain way, then we will be stuck into orienting our whole life that way.

For example,If a human child was trained to survive like any other animal species, he would excel at combating dangers. However, there’s probably little chance that a child spending most of his time in a life threatening environment would ever sit down, dip into his brain’s natural potential and start inventing rockets to fly into space or create a environmentally friendly diapers. The reason is because survival already takes up most of his time and energy, there’s little chance he would think about other options in life.

We can only focus on one goal at a time after all. Inventions and great creations can only happen when we are given the time, resources, and peaceful environment to do so. This is why why babies being helpless has always been our natural advantage.

This is all theory of course. How do you feel about this? Please tell me in the comment section below.