Baby dreaming

What in the World Is Your Baby Dreaming About?

Babies spend a lot of their days and, hopefully!, nights sleeping, which begs the question – do they spend any of that time dreaming? And, if so, what are they dreaming about?

It’s kind of hard to know for sure since babies can’t really report back on what they see when they close their eyes. But infants do spend a big chunk of time – roughly 50% of their sleep – in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, aka when dreams happen. Adults, on the other hand, only spend about 25% of their sleep in REM. If babies are dreaming during that time, though, their dreams are likely very different from our own.

“Since infants don’t have language, their dreams probably consist of imagery without any dialogue,” Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, tells

And, while you might dream of winning an Oscar or flying over a field of glazed donuts, your baby doesn’t yet have the skills necessary to dream in that way.

“Vivid dreams with structured narratives set in at age 7 or 8, around the same time children develop a clear understanding of their own identity,” Live Science reports. “Researchers think self-awareness is necessary for the insertion of the self into dreams.”

As for nightmares, little ones won’t experience those until toddler or preschool ages when imaginations really kick into high gear.

If infants aren’t able to dream about themselves or come up with intricate plotlines involving donuts, what’s the point of all that time spent in REM sleep then? Well, that time actually matters a great deal. REM sleep, also known as active sleep, is crucial when it comes to learning and development. As Live Science points out, “neuroscientists believe REM sleep serves a completely different role in newborns and infants: It allows their brains to build pathways, become integrated and, later, helps them develop language.”

And, according to, during REM “blood flow to the brain nearly doubles” and “the body increases its manufacture of certain nerve proteins, the building blocks of the brain.”

So even if your baby isn’t dreaming exactly like you, they’re still doing quite a bit during dreamtime.

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Natalie Barnett, PhD serves as VP of Clinical Research at Nanit. Natalie initiated sleep research collaborations at Nanit and in her current role, Natalie oversees collaborations with researchers at hospitals and universities around the world who use the Nanit camera to better understand pediatric sleep and leads the internal sleep and development research programs at Nanit. Natalie holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of New England in Australia and a Postgraduate Certificate in Pediatric Sleep Science from the University of Western Australia. Natalie was an Assistant Professor in the Neurogenetics Unit at NYU School of Medicine prior to joining Nanit. Natalie is also the voice of Nanit's science-backed, personalized sleep tips delivered to users throughout their baby's first few years.

Kristy Ojala is Nanit’s Digital Content Director. She spends way too much time looking at maps and weather forecasts and pictures of Devon Rex cats and no-cook dinners. A former sleep champion, she strives to share trustworthy somnabulism tips with other parents—praying for that one fine day when no tiny humans wake her up while it’s still dark out. Her kids highly recommend 3 books, approximately 600 stuffies, Chopin’s “Nocturnes,” and the Nanit Sound + Light for bedtime success.

Mackenzie Sangster is on the Brand and Community team at Nanit. She supports content development and editing for Nanit’s Parent Confidently blog as well as other marketing initiatives. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her friends, cooking, being active, and using the Pro + Flex Duo to keep an eye on her fur-baby, Poppy!

Holly Hays is a contributor and writer for Nanit, channeling her years as a mama and former magazine editor to create fun, useful content for fellow busy, trying-to-do-their-best parents and caregivers. Holly has written for a wide range of brands and media outlets (Ergobaby, HGTV, Manhattan Toy Company, OXO), loves to cook and read mystery novels, and leans heavily on her two daughters to keep her up to date on all the latest slang.