The purest feeling in the world is to become a mother. The tag ‘mother’ brings so many responsibilities. You’ve to take care of your baby just like a seed, starting from its germination until it grows old. You have to look after everything delicately. Let’s find out does babies have bad dreams and why do babies cry in their sleep.
After a tiring day, you compromise your sleep again to make sure your little one has a sound sleep. The reason that drives you and keeps you awake is the bonding with your baby which is filled with affection.
As a mother, you might have endless insecurities and questions in your mind. You must have asked yourself the zillionth time why babies cry in their sleep. You must know that it has something to do with the nightmare.
The questions that might have crossed your mind too are how to calm a crying baby, how do I stop my baby from having nightmares? and what do you have to do if your baby wakes up crying eyes closed?
Let’s find out why babies have bad dreams.
Being a postnatal mother, you play a pivotal role in the upbringing of your little one. Starting from their feeding to sleep, you take care of every small thing.
Can Babies Have Nightmares?
Yes, it’s quite evident if you find your baby experiencing a nightmare. Nightmares are not common in infants. It starts at an age of 1.5 years. Gradually, it starts to become more common in older children when your baby randomly cries while sleeping.
What Are Bad Dreams In Children?
Bad dreams, also known as nightmares are fearsome dreams that wake your little one up. These usually happen in the 4th stage of our sleep (known as REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep). In this stage, the brain becomes more active, the body becomes relaxed and eyes start to roll over slowly. The REM stage comes up after 90 minutes of falling asleep.
Few characteristics of REM (Random Eye Movement) sleep-
- Eyes start to roll over sidewise
- Jerking of legs and arms
In children, bad dreams seem so real, and mixed emotions start to hover in their minds when they experience a nightmare.
Normal Sleeping Pattern
Firstly, let’s keep an eye on some infant sleep patterns. Generally, a newborn sleeps around 16-18 hours a day including all the naps. It fluctuates around 14-16 hours till the age of one. For toddlers and preschoolers, it varies around 10-14 hours.
It drops down to 11 hours and less for school-aged children. 8-10 hours is the average sleep time for teenagers. It stays around 8 hours for the younger adults and adults.
Statistical data states that around 50% of children aged up to 6 years have nightmares.
Do Newborns Have Nightmares Or Dreams?
First things first, nightmare and night terror both are different things. There is a thin line between them.
Nightmares are very common for preschoolers because the idea of fear starts to develop in them and their realm of imagination starts to expand as well.
Whereas night terror occurs at the lowest stage of sleep. Night terror may involve screaming, intense fear as well as sleepwalking. It is not common in infants. It only lasts around 10-15 minutes.
Dreams can be defined in terms of both- good and bad. Babies have good dreams as well. Have you seen your little one smiling, laughing, sucking, and twitching while they are asleep? This is the time when they dream.
What Causes Nightmares And Night Terrors?
The stage that your baby is in is the developing stage. Your baby experiences a lot of stimulation every day. Most of the simulations are new for them to process.
CNS or Central Nervous System is the arena that helps to receive the stimuli and respond accordingly. A little one’s CNS is still not developed. Sometimes overestimation can also occur that can also trigger your baby to experience a nightmare.
Why Do Babies Cry In Their Sleep?
Anything we do before that we have to dig deeper into why it’s happening at all. We have to know all the possible causes behind it. Usually, most babies experience this. You need to worry a lot about their nightmare.
Most of the time it’s not a matter of concern at all.
In this portion, we will deal with why do babies cry in their sleep?
The exact cause is still behind the curtain. But, there are some probable causes. We will throw light on some very common reasons behind their night terrors.
1. Sleep Deprivation
It’s the primary reason. Your baby may cry to communicate something. If your baby sleeps less than the required amount then sometimes it’s quite obvious that they have not slept well.
The idea and feeling of getting afraid and stressed start developing slowly. If your baby is stressed about something, then they may start to cry suddenly during their sleep.
3. Fever Or Illness
Fever is quite common at any age. It brings discomfort and gives rise to pain. So, experiencing sleep disturbance is quite common if your baby experiences fever. Other than fever, any other illness can also contribute to pain that may lead to nightmares.
4. Breathing Issues Related To Sleep
Try to scrutinize your baby’s sleeping pattern. Keep an eye and make sure their nose and airway don’t choke while they are asleep. Breathing issues can also give rise to nightmares.
5. Feeling Hungry
Hunger can also be one of the causes. When your little one gets used to sucking then they may start to dream about the warmth of breastfeeding.
If you notice them sucking while they are asleep then they try to communicate that they are hungry.
6. Any History Of Sleepwalking In Your Family
Your little one is more susceptible to experience it if you have a family history of sleepwalking. It also increases the risk of experiencing a nightmare.
7. Taking Several Medications
If your little one has been prescribed to take medications, then that may also be a cause behind their nightmare. They may develop fear in their mind regarding I’m taking medication.
8. Changes In Sleep Surroundings
Rapid changes in the surroundings may interrupt their sleep. Your baby perceives several stimuli, they try to decode them. At an early age, it becomes difficult for them to translate everything.
When surroundings change suddenly, their brain takes time to process the changes surrounding them. Quite a few times, it may disturb them too.
Indications Of Night Terrors And Nightmares-
A big confusion lies in how to figure out whether your little one has a nightmare or not. Below are clues that may indicate your little one has a nightmare-
- Uncontrollable crying
- Trying to push away
- Jerking of legs and arms
- Breathing heavily
- Rapid heartbeat
What Amount Of Crying Is Normal For A Little One?
2-3 hours of crying during the initial three months after birth are considered normal.
How To Calm A Crying Baby?
Don’t panic if you see your little one start crying out of the blue while they are asleep. It’s very important to know the tricks to calm your baby.
- You Have To Stay Calm As Well
The very first thing you’ve to keep in mind is to calm yourself. Don’t get panicked. Stay calm and try to figure out what you can do at that point in time.
- Don’t Try To Wake Up Your Child Forcefully
You should never forcefully try to wake your little ones up from their sleep. Grab them comfortably and pat them on their back slowly.
- Assure Them Of Your Presence
When you grab them, they can feel your warmth. Your presence can make them feel secure. Keep in mind that your touch is the safest and most common touch for them. Make them feel protected.
- Gently Restrain In Case Your Baby Try To Hurt Himself
Sometimes, unknowingly, your baby may try to hurt themselves. Softly grab their hands and legs and stop them from jerking.
What Do Newborns Have Bad Dreams About?
Their dreams are full of imagination. Their Central Nervous System (CNS) is still developing and tries to decode so many situations at a time.
When overstimulation tries to engulf their thoughts slowly, then they may experience nightmares. Usually, they think about breastfeeding, their mama’s warmth, and all other activities that they usually experience.
How Do I Stop My Baby From Having Nightmares?
The responsibility that comes with the tag ‘mother’ is huge, isn’t it? You have to shape your days and modify your routine which goes hand in hand with your baby’s routine too.
So, here comes the management part. You have to be very particular in the management part. You also have to keep in mind a few tips and tricks to stop your baby from having nightmares. Though it’s very difficult to eliminate the reasons behind their nightmare. All you can do is reduce the chance or occurrence of it.
Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at some to-do:
1. Make Sure Their Routine Is Not Disrupted And They Get Adequate Sleep
Irrespective of age, adequate and sound sleep is important. Our brain needs rest. Sleeping helps our brain to cease most of its function for a time being.
2. Keep The Bedtime Environment Calm And Peaceful
Here, the environment plays a very critical part. The surroundings and the lighting play a part in their sleep too. Calm and peaceful surroundings make your little sleep faster.
3. Keep The Light Dim During Their Bedtime
As stated earlier, lighting plays a part too. Dim light and a peaceful environment stimulate an individual to get asleep shortly.
4. Touch Is Important- Assure Them You’re There And Stay With Them Until They Fall Asleep
As a mother, you are the safest lap for your baby. You are also the immediate person to take care of your little one. When you discover your baby in an uneasy condition while sleeping, try to hold them closer. Touch is important- Assure them you’re there and stay with them until they fall asleep
5. If Your Child Has Grown Up A Bit, Ask Them If They Are Afraid Of Anything
You may talk to your child if they have grown up a little. Sometimes, fear may lead to nightmares. Ask open-ended questions to your child and let them talk openly about their problems and conflicts.
6. Build Their Self-Confidence
If you speak up in front of your child, they will also open up themselves. This will not only increase a mother-child intimacy but also they will see a friend in you. It will build their confidence. If they feel low about anything and that is the cause behind their nightmare, you may get to know about that also.
7. Use Positive Reinforcement To Boost Up Their Confidence
It’s a very important part of management. Always appreciate your child by saying you’re doing good. Let them realize that you believe in them and you trust them.
When Should You Consult A Paediatrician?
Generally, things change and your little one starts to recover with time. But in some cases, it becomes mandatory to consult a physician. There are a few instances when you should seek help from them.
- When the nightmares become distressing then it becomes a matter of concern
- When fear starts to interfere with other activities
- Fear starts to bring traumatic experience
- Fear and anxiety grows more with the flow of time
- If your baby cries out of pain
- Drastic changes in sleeping pattern
- Several episodes of nightmare in a row