What Was Life Like for Kids in Colonial America?

Most families in colonial America, the period between 1607 and 1783, had six to seven children. Infant mortality was high, with about 20 to 30 percent of children dying in infancy and more died from diseases during young childhood.

People migrated from Europe to the New World in search of better lives during the colonial period. During this time, children were breast-fed till they were one-year-old, after which they were given solid food. Children wore long gowns in order to discourage crawling and were put in long, narrow cradles to prevent them from curling up, which was believed to hinder walking. Lead strings, which were attached to baby clothes, were held by adults in order to aid in walking and to prevent children from sitting down. Standing stools were also used.

From the age of 4 to 8, girls learned from their mothers how to milk cows, sew and cook. Boys learned how to farm and chop wood. At the age of 9 to 10, children from wealthy families went to school and also continued helping in chores when at home. Those who could not afford school were tutored at home. As teenagers, girls stopped going to school and boys began apprenticeships in an area of expertise chosen by their parents. Those from well-to-do families went on to college or started working in family businesses.