Raising kids is a universal experience for animals from all walks of life, and some species have come up with especially cool and impressive ways to parent. Seriously, humans should look to mother nature for parenting hacks more often — your best bit of parenting advice just might come from an elephant.
The maternal instinct to protect babies is really impressive. Some moms work together in groups to raise the babies, whereas others will nurse their young for years. An octopus mother will even guard her eggs for months or years until dying of starvation, as noted by National Geographic. (For the record: that's taking it too far. At least get some Uber Eats delivered before you get that hungry.)
When you consider the fact that many animals don't care for their offspring even a little bit, the lengths some creatures go for parenting duty is even more impressive. You might expect the list to be mammal exclusive, but some amphibians and even reptiles are super awesome moms, too. Plenty of different species also deal with the struggles and joys of raising their young, and you just might have more in common with cheetahs or whales than you ever imagined. It's wild, right?
1. Get Help From Others
You know the idea that it takes a village to raise a child? Elephants live by that philosophy. African elephants make affectionate contact with any newborn calf in the herd, and they help it learn basic skills such as how to eat and nurse, as noted in by the World Wildlife Fund. The new mom can count on her fellow elephants to lend a hand (or trunk).
2. Separate Fighting Siblings
When siblings just won't get along, sometimes the best thing you can do is separate them for a bit. That's exactly what the strawberry poison dart frogs do. Mother dart frogs will deposit each of her babies into a separate pool of water to prevent any sibling squabbles, as noted in BBC Earth. The stakes are pretty high for these mom frogs, though. If left alone, the tiny tadpoles will eat one another.
3. Teach Life Lessons Until They Stick
Baby cheetahs are some of the cutest creatures on the planet, but it takes a long time for these fuzzy cubs to become competent adult predators. Cheetah moms usually stay with their cubs for around two years, making sure they know how to hunt, stay safe from danger, and do all other cheetah things, according to Animal Planet. Likewise, you may have to spend a significant amount of time teaching your own cub basic life skills. Hey, at some point the lesson that you can't touch a hot stove will stick.
4. Transport Your Baby Safely
Transporting little ones safely is a major concern for moms of all species. Alligator moms deal with this problem by carrying baby alligators in their jaws, as noted by Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Hey, nothing would try to get at the babies in there. For people who don't have a giant jaw at their disposal, the best baby carriers can help you out, as noted in Romper.
5. Sleep When The Baby Sleeps
Raising a baby takes a lot of energy, so it's crucial to rest and recharge sometimes. Polar bear moms take this idea to the extreme, though. Mother polar bears go into a hibernation-like mode in a underground den when caring for newborns, as noted by Time. It's like an amped-up version of sleeping when the baby sleeps.
6. Feed Your Baby Your Way
There are so many ways to approach feeding a baby. For instance, the sperm whale nurse their calves for two years, as noted in National Geographic. If extended breastfeeding feels right for your family, then take a cue from this dedicated mom.
7. Practice Self Care
Motherhood can be an exhausting undertaking, and it's important to take care of yourself as well as your baby. To make up for the demands of lactation, bat moms spend more time than usual gathering food, as noted by Bat Conservation International. Likewise, human moms also need to replenish and conserve their energy, especially while nursing. Making time for self care is crucial for moms of any species.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.