Every parent has watched as their baby was obviously dreaming. We find ourselves wondering what he could possibly be dreaming about. Is he having pleasant dreams, or are they scaring him? How often does he dream? Are the faces and noises he makes while sleeping really a sign that he is dreaming?
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is the period of light sleep which allows us to move around to try to get comfortable without actually waking up. It is also the point at which we experience vivid dreaming. Since babies spend roughly twice as high a percentage of their sleep time in light, REM stage sleep, it stands to reason that they probably dream .
So, what does your baby dream about? When you’re looking down on her in her bassinet, chances are her mind is being flooded with images of the plethora of new things she has seen over the course of the day. Now, she doesn’t really have the capacity to understand speech yet, so it’s likely that your baby’s dreams won’t contain any, or if they do, it will only be sounds and noises to her, much like her “speech” is to adults at this stage or her.
Researchers theorize that REM sleep is a fundamental part of brain development. Of course, during the first few months of your baby’s life, he is developing at an astronomical rate. It can seem like he hits some new milestone or other ever week. The reality is, as fast as things are changing with your baby’s contact with the world around him, the world inside him is changing even faster.
Experts disagree on whether or not babies can have a bona fide nightmare, or bad dream. Some put forth that babies have not developed the concept of fear yet, and therefore would be unlikely to have a bad dream. Other experts point out that, even lacking speech, babies are able to experience a number of unpleasant stimuli, from hunger to being too cold or too hot. All babies obviously experience a variety of needs, many of which cause them to cry. It is plausible, then, that if a baby can experience a negative feeling, she ought also to be able to dream about such experiences.
While we may never know for certain what your baby is dreaming about, it is reasonable to believe that your baby dreams about objects, places, people, and other stimuli that she has dealt directly with. So, next time you see your baby smile and coo in her sleep, smile and remember, she might be dreaming about you.