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There is a chance you did not notice this, but your baby sleeps a lot during the first months. A one-week-old baby will sleep for 16 hours a day and even after 12 months, the baby will sleep for 13 hours. During this time do infants dream? Yes, she will definitely be dreaming a lot! Many experts point out that dreams must happen since babies spend a lot of time in REM sleep as the capacity for dreaming is there. There are others who think that we cannot compare the baby’s REM totals to an adult’s. Most of the growth and development experienced by the baby during the early years of his life happens during the sleep. So during the REM sleep, the brain is occupied with developing new neural pathways, and due to this, there is very little power left over for dreaming. This can also cause sleep regressions.
Do Babies Dream More Than Adults?
Each one of us goes through sleep cycles. That stage when we first start to fall asleep is called the light sleep. At this stage, it is easier for us to wake up. After this stage, we move into a deeper sleep where the brain rests and recovers. Then we go back up to the light sleep again. This sleep cycle will take about 90 minutes. Dr Alan Greene, professor of Paediatrics at Stanford University, explains that even babies need to sleep in order to restore their bodies and brains. But the babies sleep cycles are shorter compared to adults, and they move from light to deep sleep every 50 minutes.
Dreams happen in the light sleep, and since babies have more periods of this light sleep, they tend to dream more than adults.
What May Babies Dreams About?
We don’t know for certain to what do newborn babies dream about since there is no way of asking them, but according to Professor Greene dreams do help babies make sense of their experiences. We all know that when the baby is in the womb, she can hear and smell, and even during this time in the womb, she processes her amniotic world and tries to make sense of most of it. Even after the baby is born, these processes are still carried out since everything around her is new and overwhelming.
Dr Greene also explains that even if we do not know what she is dreaming about, we can still have some clues of what kind of dreams she is having. You can figure this out by the way your baby wakes up, either smiling or crying. So what do babies dream about when they smile? If the baby is happy and smiling, then she probably dreamt about something good. And what do babies dream about when they cry? If she’s crying and making a lot of fuss, then she must have experienced some less happy dreams.
Possible Signs Your Baby is Dreaming
There is nothing more innocent and peaceful than looking at your baby sleeping. There are three major signs your baby is dreaming, and these might leave you standing over her crib:
Have you ever seen your baby twitch while sleeping? At the University of Iowa, scientists believe that these small movements show which physical skill your baby is currently working on. This means that, if you notice your baby twitching her neck, then she will probably start supporting her head when she wakes up.
During her sleep, if you ever see your baby spontaneously smile even in the first month, then she is probably enjoying that spot of her dreaming during the REM sleep.
3. Eye Movement
If you notice her eyes move rapidly beneath the eyelids, then it is certain that she is dreaming. Scientists at the Tel Aviv University found out that when the scenes in our dreams keep changing, our eyes start flickering rapidly back and forth when we sleep.
Do Babies Have Nightmares?
Dr Greene believes that nightmares mostly tend to occur in children between the ages of three and six. This is because by this age, the imaginations of children take off and they are able to think about things that they have not, in reality, sensed themselves. They also start developing a sense of fear by this age.
One of the best things you can do to help your children with nightmares is by letting them process those dreams since bad dreams and nightmares help them make sense of things they are frightened or anxious about. When they are old enough, you can ask them to draw pictures of the bad dreams or nightmares they are having and let them tell you what happened. At the end of their story, you can encourage them to discover and look for a more positive aspect.
It is important to remember that every dream your kid has either good or bad, serve a purpose in the growth of your kid. Dreams help them make sense of the world around them.
Does Dreamless Sleep actually Help your Baby’s Development?
Many experts believe that when REM sleeps are dreamless; it helps the newborns in many ways. It allows them to build pathways in their brain, integrate the neurological systems and even help in developing several other skills like language.
Sleep is very important for your newborn’s development because when your baby is asleep, his brain development is being fuelled.
However, it is believed that dreams start taking shape as we grow up. Therefore, when the baby grows up, he absorbs and processes visuals as dreaming becomes a cognitive process.
If you believe that babies do dream, the real question is what they might be dreaming about. Among adults, we would mostly agree that most of us dream about the things we experience every day, or the past events or stuff we have read or heard about. So if we think with that logic with babies, they would probably dream about a lot of pooping, or crying. When the baby grows up, she would start becoming aware of her surroundings and maybe dream about her mom and dad or even her family dog.
Also Read: Why Do Baby Frequently Waking Up?