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Night-time nurturing : an evolutionary perspective on breastfeeding and sleep.

Ball, H.L. and Russell, C.K. (2012) 'Night-time nurturing : an evolutionary perspective on breastfeeding and sleep.', in Evolution, early experience and human development : from research to practice and policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 241-261.


Consideration of the phylogenetic depth and cross-cultural breadth of mother–infant biology and behavior illuminates contemporary infant care. Three key “ancestral environments” (AEs) have defined the care requirements of newborn humans (lactation, frequent suckling, and maternal close contact). These evolved requirements have been challenged by various “new cultural environments” (NCEs) propelling infant care in directions that are incongruent with evolved maternal and infant biology (e.g., postpartum separation of mothers and infants, widespread acceptance of nonhuman milk feeding). As a consequence, over the past century, infant feeding and sleeping have become decoupled from the mother's body—with far-reaching ramifications.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
First Live Deposit - 24 March 2017
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Publisher statement:This is a draft of a chapter that was accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the book 'Evolution, Early Experience and Human Development: From Research to Practice and Policy' edited by Darcia Narváez, Jaak Panksepp, Allan N. Schore, and Tracy R. Gleason and published in 2012.
Record Created:24 Mar 2017 09:28
Last Modified:24 Mar 2017 11:56

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