What do Babies Dream about in the Womb?
Pregnancy and the science of human development have always fascinated people. The process of how a baby develops inside a mother’s womb and how they seemingly interact with the world around them are topics people wonder about. Many people also wonder if babies can hear the world around them, or if they sleep in the womb. If they do, do they dream, and what do they dream about?
It is presumed that babies are born without any knowledge of the outside world and that a baby’s learning process about the world only begins the moment they’re born. However, countless research through the years has uncovered that a baby’s learning process begins before they are born.
Babies can hear the world around them
The baby is exposed to a myriad of noise despite being inside the uterus. It’s not exactly quiet in there. Aside from the noise of the world around the mother, the baby also hears sounds that their mother’s body makes, such as her heartbeat and voice.
Research has uncovered that of all these sounds, the baby is most attached to their mother’s voice. The heart rate of a fetus slows down everytime they hear their mother’s voice, which is why babies recognize their mother’s voice as early as when they are born.
However, research suggests that babies don’t show a preference towards their father’s and siblings’ voices in the same way they do towards their mother’s. According to Developmental Psychologist Dr. Janet DiPietro, this might be because the mother’s voice is communicated in two ways: ambient sounds through the abdomen and internally through the vibration of her vocal chords. External voices are merely heard as ambient sounds.
Babies do sleep inside the womb
Babies spend most of their time asleep inside the womb, as early as seven months into the pregnancy. At 32 weeks old, fetuses spend 90-95% of their time inside the mother’s womb fast asleep.
The baby’s brain cycles between the quiet, resting state of non-REM sleep, and frenzied rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is a period of sleep where most humans experience dreams. Scientists believe that there is a chance that babies also dream while in a state of REM sleep inside the womb.
A team of German scientists studied how sheep fetuses, which are in some ways similar to human fetuses, enter a dream-like state weeks before REM movements are detected. However, performing the same experiment on live human fetuses is impossible, so similar assumptions cannot be confirmed for humans. The only confirmed fact about developing babies is that they enter a state of REM sleep, similar to the dreaming state of adults.
What do babies dream about in the womb?
It is assumed that most people dream about the things they know. Applying this logic to babies, it can be assumed that fetuses only dream about the things that they already know, like the sounds they hear while still inside the womb.
The world of dreams is ambiguous. To this day, scientists are still studying this field of the human experience. Dreaming may be common for most, but it is something unknown for babies. It would be interesting to pursue further studies about this phenomenon among unborn children.
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