Why your Newborn won't lay flat

I often read in mum social media groups, pleas from new mums asking how they can encourage their newborn baby to lay in their cot/Moses basket. The sad truth is you really can’t. Swaddling can help some babies, however a Newborn is used to the environment of the womb, and this is very different to the outside world.

This amazing image of a baby born via CS still in its caul, shows perfectly the position of baby within the womb, how the baby is curled & contained!


The “Safe Sleep” campaign, formerly known as the “Back to Sleep” campaign of the 1990’s encouraged mums to lay their babies on their backs to sleep rather than their fronts. This advice still stands as a prevention against SIDS, however, it isn’t natural for a curled and foetal baby with no limb control, and a moro reflex to lay flat.

The Moro Reflex, also known as the startle reflex, doesn’t integrate until 3-4months old, so when a baby is moved from being held to laying down, the reflex can be initiated. This can make the baby feel like it is falling. A baby under 3-4m has no limb control so once those arms startle and begin to flail the baby feels physically more insecure.

I have known mums try everything to keep their baby from waking when laying down, one even tried ironing the Moses basket sheet to make it feel warm when she laid baby down, it doesn't work lol.

When you hold your baby, you contain the arms and legs, and the moro reflex is contained. A good stretchy wrap/sling can at least give you your hands free whist baby is in this position. This is also where swaddling can be beneficial. Swaddling is NOT a hands free option, you need to swaddle, rock & calm but when you go to lay baby down, if those arms are contained well in a swaddle, that moro reflex is also contained, so baby may not startle/wake.

Mummas has a big focus on helping Mums understand the 4th trimester, check out our 4th Trimester & Swaddling Videos.

It is REALLY normal, and it WILL disappear, you just need to ride it out. Invest in a good sling (I love the caboo stretchy), have a go at swaddling (check out our video, and if your baby is 6w upwards try the Miracle blanket) and I promise it will pass.