My newborn/baby will only sleep in my arms. What can I do to get her down? I can’t get anything done!

Perhaps the biggest challenge we see parents trying to navigate is a mismatch between their expectations and the reality of newborn sleep. Our culture portrays the image to parents that newborns happily sleep for long periods of time, alone, in a cot in their nursery.

Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what newborn human infants are evolutionarily programmed to do. Newborn humans are wired to expect to sleep in physical contact with a primary caregiver, being lulled to sleep by the rocking of their body, the beating of their hearts and the sound of their voice. They are designed to sleep and wake in short stints, feeding extremely frequently and keeping in skin to skin contact in order to stimulate and establish milk supply. They are programmed to cry whenever someone puts them down, because being left alone is dangerous when you cannot move to escape danger, and are reliant on your caregiver’s proximity for your very survival. Even their control over their heart rates and breathing is reliant upon being in the arms of a caregiver, whose own heartbeat and breathing stimulates that of the newborn’s.

This is the period known as the fourth trimester. Our babies are born less developed than other mammals, and would ideally benefit from further time to gestate before they are born. However this is a trade-off between our ability to walk upright, and our intelligence. Our uniquely large brains need large skulls, but our pelvis shape did not evolve in parallel. So our babies are born less mature, and more dependent than any other mammal.

The key to thriving in the newborn period? Understanding the fourth trimester, why it happens and that your baby is normal for wanting to be with you 24/7.

The Fourth Trimester – AKA Why Your Newborn Baby is Only Happy in Your Arms

The Fourth Trimester – 8 Ways To Create One For Your Baby

Help! My Baby Will Only Sleep in My Arms

The Second Nine Months: Exterogestation and the Need to be Held

Sweet Dreams – Pinky’s Tips To Help Your Newborn To Sleep

Things you can get done whilst co-napping

Self Care and Motherhood