My Baby Signs in Her Sleep. Is She Dreaming or Asking For Something?

Baby Dreaming

On Friday I promised I would tell you a story when I posted the AngelCare Baby Monitor giveaway. Less than a month ago someone emailed with a question and a story. Their baby was signing several signs during their sleep. The writer wanted to know if their baby had a need associated with some of the signs or if the signing was just random. According to the writer she has a video baby monitor that feeds video to her Iphone and she had seen her little girl Sophia sign milk and cookie. Not knowing how to answer I asked a couple of friends, one a pediatrician and the second a child development expert.

This is what I learned: According to pediatric dream expert Dr. David Foulkes we erroneously mistake our baby’s ability to perceive with an ability to dream. While adults spend about 25% of their sleeping in REM babies spend over half of their sleeping time in REM. If babies did dream during REM, then they would dream for the equivalent of a full eight-hour workday. That would be a lot of mileage to get out of the few images they’ve collected of their bedroom, toys and parents’ faces.

If dreaming is not happening, what is then baby doing in her sleep? Many experts believe babies REM has a completely different function. During REM babies build neural pathways which become integrated and later sets the foundation for language development (Similarly, juvenile birds learn songs during REM sleep.) According to Dr. Foulkes and his colleagues, full narrative and sequential dreaming does not begin until 7 or 8 years of age.

The good news is, your baby is most likely NOT expressing a need or want in their sleep. Furthermore, when you spot them signing it simply reinforces the theory that little ones are developing their linguistic and communication abilities!


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