Bush babies, or galagos (Galago senegalensis).
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In humans, the period of life between birth and the acquisition of language usually one to two years later. The average newborn infant weighs 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg) and is about 20 in (51 cm) long. At birth, infants display a set of inherited reflexes involving such acts as sucking, blinking, and grasping. They are sensitive to light-dark visual contrasts and movements and show a noticeable preference for gazing at the human face; they also begin to recognize the human voice. By 4 months of age most babies are able to sit up, and most begin crawling in 7–10 months; by 12 months most are able to start walking. Virtually all infants begin to comprehend some words several months before they themselves speak their first meaningful words.
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Richer women, ladies of the class known as gentry, would also put their babies out to be cared for in the homes of villagers. Claire Tomalin gives a detailed account of this in her biography of Jane Austen, who was fostered in this manner, as were all her siblings, from a few months old until they were toddlers. Tomalin emphasises the emotional distance this created.
Particularly in the case of lump-sum adoptions, it was more profitable for the baby farmer if the infant or child she adopted died, since the small payment could not cover the care of the child for long. Some baby farmers adopted numerous children and then neglected them or murdered them outright (see infanticide). Several were tried for murder, manslaughter, or criminal neglect and were hanged. Margaret Waters (executed 1870) and Amelia Dyer (executed 1896) were two infamous British baby farmers, as were Amelia Sach and Annie Walters (executed 1903). The last baby farmer to be executed in Britain was Rhoda Willis, who was hanged in Wales in 1907. The only woman to be executed in New Zealand, Minnie Dean, was a baby farmer.
Spurred by a series of articles that appeared in the British Medical Journal in 1867, Parliament began to regulate baby-farming in 1872 with the passage of the Infant Life Protection Act. A series of acts passed over the next seventy years, including the Children Act 1908 and the 1939 Adoption of Children (Regulation) Act, gradually placed adoption and foster care under the protection and regulation of the state.