Children of Ancient Greece
Babies born in ancient Greece often had a difficult time surviving. Many died in the first couple days of life; therefore, babies did not receive names until the seventh or tenth day of life. If a baby was born deformed, it might have been abandoned on a mountain (female babies were abandoned more often than males). Sometimes abandoned babies were rescued and brought up as slaves by another family.
In some Greek cities, children were wrapped up in cloths until they were about two years old to insure straight and strong limbs. Other city-states, such as Sparta, did not do this to their children..
Children spent the majority of their time with their mother. They stayed in the women’s part of the house. While they were being raised, girls would receive their entire education and training in the home with their mothers. Boys, on the other hand, might learn their father’s trade or go to school around the age of seven.
In Sparta, seven-year-old boys were taken to the barracks by the city and raised. They were trained in the military and were not allowed to leave the barracks until age thirty.
Many toys, similar to current day toys, have been found in archeological sites. Dolls, rattles, tops, swings, and many other items have been unearthed. As is common today, those from richer families had a greater assortment of toys, while those from poorer families were expected to work for the family at a much younger age. Evidence also shows that Greeks kept pets such as dogs, pigs, tortoises, and caged birds.
Girls reached puberty at ages twelve or thirteen, at which point they were considered adults and could marry. Girls took their childhood toys and left them at the temple of Artemis. This signaled that their childhood was over and that they were becoming adults. After marrying, the women were expected to have a baby. Not being able to bear children was seen as curse from the gods.
At age eighteen, boys in several ancient Greek cities were required to join the army for two years of service. Many cities required males to reach the age of thirty before they were able to participate in city politics.