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Understanding Active Sleep in Babies: Everything to Know

When it comes to your baby’s sleep, you may have heard of ‘active sleep’. But what does this mean? In this post, we’ll explore what active sleep is, why it’s important for your baby, and how can be a useful resource for any questions or concerns you may have about your baby’s sleep patterns.

What is Active Sleep?

Active sleep, also known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, is one of the two main types of sleep. It’s named for the rapid eye movements that occur during this phase, and it’s during this stage that most dreaming occurs. In babies, active sleep is also characterized by irregular breathing, occasional body movements, and facial grimacing.

Why is Active Sleep Important for Babies?

Active sleep plays a crucial role in a baby’s brain development. It is thought that the brain processes information and experiences from the day during this phase, which is crucial for learning and memory.

Active Sleep in Newborns

Newborns spend about 50% of their sleep time in active sleep. This can result in frequent awakenings, but it’s a normal part of their development.

Active Sleep as Your Baby Grows

As your baby gets older, the proportion of active sleep decreases while the amount of quiet sleep increases. By the age of two, only about 25% of a child’s sleep is active sleep.

What are the Benefits of Active Sleep?

Active sleep plays a vital role in a baby’s brain development and growth. It’s during this sleep stage that the brain processes and consolidates memories and experiences, aiding learning and cognitive development.

Recognizing and Responding to Active Sleep

How to Tell if a Baby is in Active Sleep?

A baby in active sleep may exhibit several signs, including rapid eye movements under closed eyelids, irregular breathing, body twitches, and occasional grunts or cries.

Should You Pick Up a Baby During Active Sleep?

Typically, it’s best not to disturb your baby during active sleep. If they appear to be resting, even if it’s active sleep, allow them to continue sleeping uninterrupted for their brain development and overall health.

Do Babies Cry During Active Sleep?

Yes, babies can sometimes cry, whimper, or grunt during active sleep due to the high brain activity in this stage. As long as they settle back down, there’s no need to intervene.

Active Sleep Concerns

Why Does My Baby Grunt and Squirm While Sleeping?

Grunting and squirming during sleep often occur during active sleep due to your baby’s immature nervous system. This behavior is normal, and most babies outgrow it with time.

Why is My Baby So Restless at Night?

Babies may be restless at night due to several reasons such as hunger, needing a diaper change, or being in the active sleep stage. It’s important to note that active sleep is a normal and crucial part of their sleep cycle.

How Long Do Sleepless Nights Last with Newborns?

Every baby is different. While some newborns may begin sleeping longer stretches at night by 3 months old, others might take longer. Remember, active sleep is an important and normal part of their sleep development.

Active Sleep and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

There is ongoing research regarding the correlation between active sleep and SIDS. However, following safe sleep practices like placing your baby on their back to sleep and providing a safe sleeping environment can reduce the risk.

How Can Help

Understanding your baby’s sleep cycles, including active sleep, can often be a complex task for new parents. This is where comes into play. This trusted platform is dedicated to helping parents navigate the many stages and aspects of baby sleep.

From providing clear, research-backed explanations on topics like active sleep, to offering practical tips on managing various baby sleep-related concerns, is an invaluable resource. The site aims to help parents promote healthy sleep habits for their babies, ensuring their overall development and well-being.


Active sleep is a critical part of your baby’s sleep cycle, playing a key role in their brain development. As a parent, understanding these sleep stages can help you better support your baby’s growth and development. For more insights on baby sleep patterns and helpful tips, check out