Do Babies Dream While They Sleep?

By Misty on in Baby Sleep Help Health Concerns with 9 Comments

Do Babies Dream While They Sleep?
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We often say that we slept like a baby to infer that we had a restful night’s sleep but can we truly assume that babies rest comfortably through the night? Can we assume that baby sleep is soothing and calming? Since babies are new to this world and have very few experiences and limited cognitive abilities, is it safe to presume that little interrupts their calm sleep?

As we watch our babies sleep we notice that they seem to twitch and show eye movements that would appear to correspond to dream activity in older children and adults. Could this mean that babies are somehow able to dream even though they have very few adventures and events to unfold in their minds?

Baby dreams have been the focus of much psychoanalytic investigation. Researchers have concluded that babies are able to fall into this REM (Rapid Eye Movement) level of sleep which is knowingly associated with dreaming activity in adults, but they do not all agree that these movements depict the same mental actions. Many simply state a logical assumption that if the movements (REM) are there when a baby sleeps then the conclusion must be that a baby dreams.

Others are not so convinced. David Foulkes, a renowned psychologist considered an expert in pediatric dreaming wrote “if an organism gives evidence that it can proceed in reality, then we are prone to imagine that it can dream one as well.”

Dreaming BabyYes we may be prone to believe that babies have the capacity to dream, but can we actually believe that they have the ability to do so. Is it possible that babies are somehow able to dream even though they have very few adventures to expand upon and play out in their minds?

Dreams are quite figuratively extensions of our lives, our interactions, and daily activities; they are conceived through our emotions and exchanges with those persons around us. Many believe that without this framework of social interactions and personal involvements babies are incapable of actually dreaming.

Extensive research has given some neuroscientists evidence to believe that children do not dream as small babies. Instead they theorize that children don’t begin to dream until the age of four or five, an age when they have the ability to create pictures in their minds which could allow them to formulate pictures or expressions in dreams.

Even at this young age children are still very influenced by the people and stimulus around them, it is often not until a child reaches school age that they begin forming their own ideas and notions about their unique involvement in their surroundings.

So we must ask the question again, do babies dream? If we believe so then we must ask what they dream about. Since they have so few experiences, do they dream about binkies, bottles, and bath time?

Many neuroscientists relate that this developing personal awareness is what sets the stage for the child’s ability to dream. If this is the case then it would seem that babies do not dream instead these actions while sleeping may simply be part of their rapid growth and give credence to the importance of providing quality sleep time for our developing babies.

Do you believe your baby is able to dream?

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  1. Jan Kearney

    January 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm · Reply

    When you watch a baby sleep, there are moments when something is going on - a smile, a twitch etc. Babies obviously respond to stimuli while sleeping - are they dreaming? Who knows? I'd love to think they are!

    1. Misty

      January 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm · Reply

      Jan, I'm the same way. I look at my daughter sleeping in her crib, listening to her 'sleep giggles' or making expressions and I can't help but hope she is having a sweet dream.

  2. Lynda Lippin

    January 30, 2014 at 7:58 pm · Reply

    It is an interesting question. I would say yes, since it seems to be part of the human rest and reset mechanism.

    1. Misty

      January 31, 2014 at 2:02 pm · Reply

      Good point Lynda. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what they are dreaming about.

  3. Michael Levanduski

    January 31, 2014 at 2:36 am · Reply

    I've had three children and I'm pretty sure they sleep. I've seen my children smile in their sleep and have cute expressions on their face. Interesting post!

    1. Misty

      January 31, 2014 at 2:04 pm · Reply

      Michael, that's exactly what I think when I see my daughter sleeping. My husband and I think she must be dreaming about being held all the time, or pacifiers and bottles. lol

  4. Christi

    February 1, 2014 at 3:47 am · Reply

    Interesting post! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Cynthia Dixon

    February 1, 2014 at 7:40 pm · Reply

    Misty, Has anyone ever really explained what dreams are and how they occur? Dreaming is so mystical to me. The brain is an extremely powerful organ that I don't think man can fully understand or explain. I will say that babies do respond to the environment around them just as they did while in the womb. I guess that's another question we'll never fully have an answer to. Great topic idea by the way. :)

    1. Misty

      February 2, 2014 at 11:48 pm · Reply

      My husband always tells me how great it would be if we could download our brains somewhere and be able to look back on our old memories or peer into our dreams. This might be right up our alley!

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