What Do Babies Dream About?
Little Yawn Collective - Dec 01, 2021
As you watch your sweet little one sleep, you probably ask yourself or your spouse, “I wonder what they are dreaming about?”
We know that sleep is essential for everyone, but do babies have the same sleeping patterns? Keep reading to find out more about your baby's sleep cycles.
As adults, we go through cycles of sleep during the night. Adults have four cycles of sleep, with the last being REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep. This stage of sleep gets its name from being able to tell that a person’s eyes are moving under their eyelids. This is also the stage of sleep where people have vivid dreams.
On average, adults spend about 20% of their sleep in the REM stage. Adults need to cycle through these stages of sleep during the night to ensure that they are getting high-quality rest.
However, infant sleep is a little different.
Over half of their sleep is deep REM sleep, and they enter this stage more quickly than adults do. With infants already sleeping up to 18 hours a day, they are in REM sleep for almost eight to nine hours!
Babies go through the vast brain and physical growth for their first year of life, and having quality sleep is essential as your baby develops. REM sleep helps with neural developments and coping skills to support your baby’s emotional and communication functions.
Do Babies Dream?
A question that has been asked through generations of parents… do babies dream?
As our little ones are still learning to communicate, it is quite impossible to confirm if there are any dreams behind those long eyelashes. Even among researchers, the answers vary. In short, there is no confirmation if babies dream or not.
What Research Tells Us About Dreams
Some researchers believe that babies do dream but in a way different than adults. Because babies do not have the same reality or react the same way adults do, they have a different point of view.
As a parent, you may have watched your baby cry out or move their body while sleeping. To anyone watching, it may look as if your baby is reacting to a dream. Researchers believe that this may be a memory from the day being replayed instead of a dream, which is how your brain processes all the thoughts of the day.
Also, since eyes tend to move while sleeping, this is more reason to believe that they are dreaming.
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
We know when toddlers have a bad dream, they may wake up and cry out about something being “bad” or tell something to “go away.”
We only know this because our toddlers can communicate it with us. So, could babies who wake up crying also have dreamt something and are crying out because that is the only method they have to communicate with us?
On the other end of the spectrum, some researchers believe that infants are not capable of dreaming. Since babies are still developing and don’t have the emotional or sensory capabilities adults have, there is little material for their tiny brains to form a dream.
Instead, it is suggested that infant brains develop important memories and make connections about the world around them, especially language.
Dreams Caused By Experiences
Once your child can be more aware of the world around them and interact with people and things, they may start to have dreams. These dreams will be different than adult dreams, as younger children are only just beginning their journey into experiencing emotion and thought.
Around two to three years old, very young children may dream of simple images, like looking at pictures on a digital camera screen. This could be just a replay of the day, maybe a parent helping put shoes on, or what they ate for dinner.
When children reach about four to five years old, these dreams will be about their day-to-day lives and incorporate objects they interact with, like stuffed bears or characters from a book. They could dream about their stuffed bear taking them on a walk or bathing them. Instead of dreaming in simple images, now the dreams start to take shape as a movie.
As ways of thinking become more developed, your child’s dreams will too. We know as adults how bizarre our dreams can sometimes get, interwoven with snippets of actual memory, but we are able to remember and tell the story that our dream was showing us.
As your baby grows older and matures, their dreams will take shape much like ours do, and our children now have the capacity to remember and discuss what they dreamed.
It is hard to determine if babies dream in a sense that we recognize. We know that older children dream, and babies mimic dreamlike behaviors in a deep sleep by observing eye and body movement.
We can confirm the importance of a bedtime routine and how this routine helps your baby fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. When your child has a consistent bedtime routine, they know what to expect and associate these activities with sleep.
Children prefer routine, and as you know, getting off schedule can throw things for a loop! Your baby also will come to enjoy this routine as they will get to spend time with you, and it will likely become your favorite time too!
Predictable routines keep the element of surprise away from bedtime and help your child feel safe. This will help your child sleep peacefully and likely have happy dreams!
Your bedtime routine should consist of a few steps. Having a snack, taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book together, and then getting tucked into bed is an easy and relaxing transition from a busy day to a restful night’s sleep.
Incorporating products into your bedtime routine is an effortless way to support relaxation and create an environment that helps your little one relax and fall asleep easier.
Using a Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash will gently cleanse your baby and infuse it with scents proven to support your baby falling asleep easier and staying asleep through the night.
Although we cannot say whether babies dream or not, we know that their brains are very active while sleeping!
Watching babies sleep is a pastime that all parents love to do. It’s so easy to manage your sweet one to rest peacefully. Between their little sighs, body movements, and fluttering eyelids, it is comforting to know that they are sleeping snug and warm with you nearby.
At Little Yawn Collective, we are here to help make bedtime a breeze! Our melatonin-free products offer a natural way to help relax your little one into falling and staying asleep. On to dreamland for your baby and you!
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