Do Babies Have Dreams? Kind Of, But Not Like Your Dreams
What do babies dream of when they take a baby snooze? Well, it's kind of impossible to know. Although I like to think that babies are dreaming of falling into rooms full of boobs, blankets, and bottles (the three most essential Bs), this begs the question — do babies have dreams or are they just snoozing with nothing more than a flutter in their eyelids and some phantom sucking?
When my little girl was a baby, I loved watching her sleep. But there were few things more heartbreaking than seeing her pout as she snoozed, her bottom lip trembling and her chin wobbling. I figured she was having some kind of bad dream, but what kind of dream could a baby think up? Was she dreaming about my boob being out of her reach? Was she dreaming that she just sat down to her calculus exam and realized she was in her underwear? Does her brain even know what a dream is?
Technically, yes. Babies do dream. According to Parenting, 50 percent of a baby's sleep is spent in the active/REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep characterized by dreams. For comparison, only 25 percent of an adult's sleep is in that same stage. And just to make you feel better about all of those night wakings, The Baby Sleep Site noted that REM sleep is lighter and more active than non-REM sleep. Since your baby is spending half of their snooze time in that active sleep, it can explain why there are so many night wakings.
How do you know a baby is sleeping in the REM stage so much? The New York Times noted that the rapid eye movements associated with REM sleep can be observed as babies snooze, which is all the proof scientists need to confidently say that babies must be dreaming.
Because you obviously can't ask your baby what they were dreaming about, nobody's really sure what it is babies think up while they sleep. Parenting noted that a baby's dreams are most likely silent as they don't have language and they are probably just a lot of imagery. The Baby Sleep Site suggested that because most dreams are made up of things you have experience and/or seen, you could easily infer that a baby is dreaming about pooping and eating. (Because they already live the dream. See what I did there?)
But no matter what your baby's dreaming about, it's not crazy to assume that they are actually dreaming. It'll be a few more years before you can talk to them about their dreams, but try watching your baby's face as they snooze. Those sad little pouts may be more than just facial expressions — they could be dreaming about 2016.