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Do babies have nightmares? © Getty Images

Do babies have nightmares?

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Although they may occasionally give their parents nightmares, babies probably don't experience them themselves.

Asked by: Michelle Bailey, Derby


It’s impossible to know for sure, because babies can’t tell us! But given the cognitive abilities of babies, experts believe that they do not experience nightmares. Instead, a baby may wake up crying if they’re hungry or uncomfortable.

They can occasionally appear confused or fearful when aroused from deep sleep. Nightmares typically occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and are more common later on when the child has developed a richer understanding of the world.


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Alice is a Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths. She has contributed to several diverse research areas, including the longitudinal associations between sleep and psychopathology, behavioural genetics, sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome. In addition to her scientific contributions she also excels in the public engagement of science. She has published two popular science book (Nodding Off, Bloomsbury, 2018 and Sleepy Pebble, Nobrow, 2019). She regularly contributes articles to the media and has had her work published in outlets including the Guardian, GQ UK, Sud Ouest, Slate Fr, Independent.


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