We tend to regard babies as incredibly fragile versions of the real people they will eventually become. Each year parents spend billions of dollars padding the corners of their furniture and adding latches to cupboard doors that could thwart even the most devoted of safe-crackers. You can’t really blame them. It is part of human nature to protect our offspring. If humans didn’t have the instinctual urge to do everything in our power to protect kids, the species would be in real trouble. There is however a little talked about understanding in the scientific community that the very young are not as breakable as we sometimes think.
A quick survey of online news archives serves to highlight the exceptional durability of babies and toddlers. In September 2013 a 17 month old boy in Toronto, Canada survived a seven story fall from his family’s balcony. Only a month earlier, a one-year-old girl in Switzerland survived a fall from a cable car that killed both her parents. Then there is the story of Saskatchewan’s Karlee Kosolofski, who is in a league of her own.
In his book Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why, Laurence Gonzales describes a phenomenon in wilderness survival where children between the ages of 2 and 6 have one of the highest survival rates of any age group. This is because very young children don’t impose their expectations on the world. Instead they see situations for how they really are and accept them as fact. When they are tired, they sleep. When they are hungry, they eat. They don’t wander around to the point of exhaustion in search of the salvation that “must be around here someplace”.
So it appears that adults aren’t the only force looking out for kids, mother nature is also on their side. That is not to say that we don’t need car safety seats and childproof caps on medicine bottles. We grown ups have created a world that is full of more hazards than evolution can reasonably cope with. All I am saying is that parents shouldn’t feel like they are alone in the fight to keep their children safe. Of all the allies a person could have, biology is pretty good one.
*Disclaimer: Obviously, please do not try to subject children to this.