Stone Age babies had better parenting than today! Infants received care for ... trends now
Modern life may have made many things easier, but scientists say that raising a child is not one of them.
A study of modern hunter-gatherer groups suggests that our Stone Age ancestors gave their children better childcare than we do today.
Researchers from Cambridge University found that children among the Mbendjele BaYaka in the Republic of Congo received nine hours of care a day from up to 15 different caregivers.
Crying children were attended to by the mother's support network more than half of the time, giving the mums more time to rest.
The study's authors say these findings suggest modern parenting methods may be at odds with children's evolutionarily programmed needs.
Scientists suggest that children in Stone Age hunter-gatherer groups may have had better child care than modern children
The study's authors argue that mothers in the West have not faced such pressure and little support for the majority of humanity's evolutionary history (stock image)
Dr Nikhil Chaudhary, lead author of the study, says that insights into these modern hunter-gatherers can tell us more about how humans lived in the Stone Age.
'For more than 95% of our evolutionary history we lived as hunter-gatherers,' said Dr Chaudhary.
'Therefore, contemporary hunter-gatherer societies can offer clues as to whether there are certain childrearing systems to which infants, and their mothers, may be psychologically adapted.'
The Mbendjele BaYaka live in the jungles in the North of the Republic of Congo where they rely on hunting, fishing, gathering, and honey collection for sustenance.
Evolutionary anthropologists stayed with the Mbendjele BaYaka between March and July 2014.
The Mbendjele BaYaka live in the northern jungles of the Republic of Congo and rely on hunting, fishing, gathering, and honey collection
Over these months researchers observed children for 12 daylight hours and recorded how often they were cared for and by whom.
The researchers found that between 10 and 20 different caregivers would be involved in looking after a child and that a mother's support system would respond to more than half of their baby's crying episodes.
Children were almost never left alone and spent long periods of time in physical contact with adults, or receiving close care.
When children cried they were attended to in under 10 seconds in half of cases and in under 25 seconds 90 per cent of the time.
Children among hunter-gatherer societies, like in the Stone Age, were rarely left alone and received constant care from a wide range of different caregivers including older children
The Mbendjele BaYaka are a nomadic group of hunter gatherers who live between the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.
They are a traditional hunter gatherer society that practices hunting, fishing, foraging, and honey collection.
Some Mbendjele communities have become settled and integrated with local economies, many remain mobile and forest dwelling.
They live in multifamily camps of between 20 -80 individuals, consisting of a number of huts in which nuclear families live.
Older infants and adolescents will also often be