Do babies have nightmares?
Studies have revealed that there is a period of sleep known as the dream or REM state (Rapid Eye Movement), or active sleep, which happens for adults and for babies and children. According to studies published by the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics, still during intrauterine life, fetuses spend 80% of the time in this stage, and, after this stage until the first six months of life, babies spend about 50% of their sleep time in a state REM.
Because they have this phase in sleep, babies can dream, and according to the experiences they have during the period they are awake, they may have nightmares. “As the very young do not yet have a clear vision or a lot of auditory acuity, the dream will have colors, shapes and sounds that he does not yet understand well – and that can frighten him,” says neuropediatrician at Hospital Pequeno Príncipe, Antonio Carlos de Farias.
What do babies dream of?
It is very difficult to imagine what babies dream, especially if they are in their first months of life. There are those who joke that the only image they should remember is the mother’s breast.
The truth is that while they sleep, babies’ brains are in constant activity and even though they do not assimilate what they experience, they can dream of sensations, for example, with the temperature of the bath water, the smell or texture of the clothes, also with milk, among other moments. Still, it is very difficult to be fully sure of what they are dreaming of.
When to worry about bad dreams
During the REM stage, it is possible to watch the eyes move under the eyelids and also some movements in the babies, they can smile, move their arms and legs, and at times, cry.
If during this period the baby cries a lot, wakes up scared or is agitated a lot at bedtime. It is good to note how often this happens. If the interval between occurrences is short, parents should pay attention to whether the family environment has become stressful and try to make it more suitable for the baby.
According to experts, the most worrying nightmares should happen from the age of three. It is the time to interact through conversations, changes in the lifestyle of the house and, if necessary, the search for a professional, who will help the child to better deal with his fears, insecurities, situations of conflict, anguish and anxiety.