Why babies cry so loud, as the noise can potentially attract predators in the wild?


Why babies cry so loud, as the noise can potentially attract predators in the wild?

In: Biology

It can also attract help from a parent if they need food or something. The pros outweigh the cons. Hopefully the parent can protect the baby from predators.

It’s to alert the caregivers of the baby.

When a mother gives birth she is naturally compelled to protect the baby through *any* means possible. This means, although it may alert predators in the wild, the mother will usually arrive first.

Furthermore, humans are pack animals by nature, so when I say “mother” I likely mean the whole tribe.

And trust me, a tribe of humans is a real force to be reckoned with.

Plenty of baby animals instinctually stay silent and hidden when they’re away from their mothers, like deer. Human babies, evidently, have different priorities.

I’d imagine that deer normally forage away from each other and, well, stand/walk on their own, so it’s pretty normal for a baby to be temporarily separated. Human babies, though, are utterly helpless alone, and ideally never, ever leave their mothers’ sight. For a human baby, if they’re alone, the top priority is getting back into mother’s arms ASAP.

It worked out to our evolutionary advantage. If more babies died from predators from crying, then that strategy wouldn’t have succeeded, but it did succeed over the quiet babies, so the payoff was more beneficial than the risks that were assumed.

We’re pack animals.

The pure numbers of individuals in the the pack/herd/tribe would act as a deterrent for predators.

A mother with a young and vulnerable baby would rarely leave the group, and a screaming baby would also never be accidentally “forgotten” and left behind.

Humans are apex predators. We’re at the top of the food chain. We don’t have predators.

As others have mentioned, prey behave differently.

A crying baby attracts the most ruthless and effective predator the world has ever seen, to defend it.

Adult humans have been known to hunt animals to extinction purely due to a perceived threat to their children.

Well people already told you that it’s more about warning the parents, everything a baby does for self preservation is only SELF preservation. A baby alone vs a wolf is a dead baby so might as well warn someone

Also I’ll add that it’s not as loud as we think. Our ears are specifically tuned so that a baby cry frequencies seem super loud.
Don’t get me wrong it’s still loud af but thought it would be interesting to let you know

Aside from other things mentioned here, babies actively being held to their mother tend to cry quite a bit less, and just for practical reasons if nothing else hunter gatherers tend to keep their babies bundled onto their body pretty much constantly in some sort of clothing or wrap, with access to nurse whenever they wanted. In a lot of species, mothers normally have to leave their baby to go forage or something like that. A deer has to leave a faun, for example. So the baby is adapted to stay quiet when alone. But humans basically never had to leave their babies so humans don’t have that adaptation. As with pretty much everything in child-rearing, your mileage may vary, but we kept our baby on us most of the time and she didn’t cry a whole lot and certainly not if she could nurse.

Because they can’t express their needs or pain, so they cry to express that something’s wrong. We are biologically wired to react when babies are crying so when we hear one, we know he/she needs attention/care. Newborns don’t make loud sounds when they are a few days old, they get louder as weeks go by.

That is an incredibly low risk event, since babies are kept on the mother at almost all times in tribal or hunter/gatherer societies. There was no special crib in a dark room with a sound machine; they were just strapped to the back (or front) and carried around for the first few years. So any cry would quickly result in a tit in the mouth or a change (they generally just cry if hungry or wet).

Predators stalking humans did much better with kids that were toddlers and older who could run out into the bush and suddenly find themselves alone. There weren’t many predators that would try to infiltrate a human camp. Lone human? Sure. Tribe? No.

And the evolutionary advantage of being fed and otherwise attended to far, far outweighed the risk of being eaten.

From an evolutionary perspective, a baby that doesn’t cry at all is unlikely to get fed as frequently as one that cries whenever it’s hungry. So the crying baby will grow up stronger and more able to pass on its genes.

The other half of your premise doesn’t really make much difference. Before the advent of civilisation, humans didn’t really rely on being hidden from predators in order to survive. Just like if you look at antelopes, or zebras, or chimpanzees today: their predators know exactly where they are, they have other tactics to avoid being eaten. Most predators rely on smell to locate their prey and then on sight to hone in on a specific individual when hunting; hearing is a very secondary sense for them.

So a crying baby “giving away the location” of a group of humans wouldn’t really put them at significantly more risk. Whatever techniques they used to avoid being eaten (living in caves, starting fires, shouting and waving pointy sticks) those would need to be done anyway.

The only real danger to human beings that we can avoid by hiding and being silent is a group of other humans.

Primarily humans where settled in dwellings, with babies being communally cared for, so while it may have attracted predators, we had a degree of fortification, fire or just sheer numbers to ward them off in the home area. If you look at monkeys, their babies are almost completely passive, being almost more akin to a kangaroo than the screaming parasite they evolved into with the homo- genus.