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Do Babies Dream?

Babies spend about 50 percent of sleep time in active/REM sleep—the stage characterized by vivid dreams—compared with 25 percent for adults. So it's possible that infants have more, or longer, nighttime adventures than their parents do. Here, a dream debriefing:

What do babies dream about?

We can't know exact subject matter, but their dreams are most likely silent, says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., the associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Since infants don't have language, their dreams probably consist of imagery without any dialogue."

What about nightmares?

Beyond a healthy wariness of strangers, kids don't develop real fears until age 2 or 3. "Until then, it's very unlikely that a baby would have a scary dream," says Mindell.

What's a night terror?

Although these unexplained partial arousals between sleep stages may cause your child to shriek and thrash about, she is not having a bad dream. After a few minutes, your baby will settle back down (in fact, she probably never woke up at all). The best thing to do? Nothing. Trying to console her may only prolong the episode.