A central question in human life history theory surrounds the rapid pace of reproduction of human mothers. Accordingly, evolutionary anthropologists have debated who provides assistance to human mothers and how. Here, we develop an embodied capital framework (i.e., a parental investment strategy focused on improving the adult productivity of offspring) to understand urban–rural differences in the extent to which children help to underwrite the costs of their dependence among Indo-Fijians. We employ multiple regression analysis to explore the relationships among various categories of helpful activity, residential ecology and mother's reproductive success and show that, while rural children work more overall compared to urban children, childcare is the only productive activity with any relationship to mother's reproductive success. We conclude by providing support for the general idea that children are potentially important sources of allomaternal help, but emphasize the need for more nuanced models of how such help is provided.