Do Babies Have Nightmares?
The idea of whether babies have nightmare is under debate. Many doctors and researchers believe that children don’t have nightmares until ages three to five. However, there are just as many other researchers who believe that nightmares begin as early as birth. So, whats the verdict? There isn’t one exactly and you simply have to make up your own mind what you believe.
The idea that babies have nightmares really makes sense since they have memories. The brain uses nightmares to learn from traumatic experiences and integrate them into the brain. Babies have many traumatic experiences during their first days of life that the brain must come to terms with and uses nightmares to do so. For example, the entire birthing process is stressful to a newborn. The squeezing from contractions, the pushing, fitting through a tight birth canal, medical extractions, vaccinations, circumcision, bright lights, cold surfaces, and more are just some of the newborns first experiences. Their brains are developed enough to remember these moments and in turn have nightmares.
When a baby wakes up crying you might believe it is due to hunger, gas, pain, or something else. That something else is very likely a nightmare. Research shows babies dream en utero and if this is the case it seems very likely that nightmares can occur soon after birth and throughout toddlerhood. If your baby seems overly clingy after waking up from a nap or during the night then perhaps he just had a nightmare and needs you to hold him close.
Parents worry about nightmares and don’t want to believe anything scary could happen to their babies. But the truth is that nightmares are actually cathartic and healing despite causing tears.
Doctors in the past have told parents that baby boys don’t feel pain from circumcision or injections, but their response to these events shows that they do feel pain. In order to make your baby’s first days of life as least traumatic as possible make sure your baby boy receives anesthesia before circumcision and that traumatic events are avoided at all costs. This includes leaving your baby alone to cry, dropping him, or otherwise causing pain, and the like.
You may be like some doctors and believe they don’t have nightmares early on. However, the research shows overwhelmingly that babies do dream and have nightmares.