Why Do Babies Pout in Their Sleep

If you’re reading this, chances are, you are wondering why babies pout in their sleep. Or why they even pout at all?

Perhaps you’ve seen your baby do it or just any regular baby around you.

If that sounds like you, then rest assured, because I’m here to clarify the whole idea surrounding why babies pout in their sleep.

So, I advise you read to the end because I’m about to tell you something most parents don’t know!

Something that’ll take you one step ahead of the average parent out there.

But before that, I’d like to take a minute to explain what pouting means.

What Does Pouting Means?

A study led by the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) revealed that a greater amount of neurological activity is associated with the lips of babies (around 2 months old) than with any other part of their body.

This translates that babies will mostly communicate through their lips, naturally.  

That said, the word “pout” is gotten from the middle English “pouten”, which is related to the Swedish puta meaning “to be inflated”.

But so far, this meaning has evolved into various definitions.

According to Wikipedia, pouting is a facial expression and a contraction of the muscle in the lips either voluntarily or as a result of a snout reflex.

But the Cambridge Dictionary says pouting means to push the lower lip forward to show you are annoyed or to push both lips forward in a sexually attractive way.

The free dictionary says it means to exhibit displeasure or disappointment, or it means to project or protrude one’s lip. Pouting, is the profusion of the lips, especially as an expression.

Considering all those definitions, it is clear that pouting is a form of expression through which infants communicate their intentions or feelings.

The issue of pouting while sleeping has raised a couple of questions over time. But for the sake of this article, we will only look at a few that people normally ask:

  • Do you think it is normal for babies to pout while sleeping?
  • Is the baby having a nightmare?
  • Are they trying to communicate when they pout?

However, it is also within my notice that a lot of parents confuse pouting with puckering. So, to save you that stress let me quickly spell out the difference before moving on.

What Does Puckering Means?

Puckering means tightly gathering or contrasting your lips into wrinkles or small folds.

Now the major difference between puckering and pouting is that puckering has to do with pushing the lips inwardly while pouting is pushing the lips out.

Having stated the difference between puckering and pouting, let’s deal with the above questions.

Is it normal for babies to pout while sleeping?

Yes, it’s normal for babies to pout while sleeping and I’ll tell you why!

Babies can’t communicate like regular adults as they can’t speak, so their face is their first way of communicating. They tend to communicate through facial expressions.

I had a very short interview with Miss Sophia and here is what she said:

“I watch my baby sister, June, while she slept and I noticed she was pouting. I became a bit curious about it because I thought she was having a hard time sleeping. So, I changed her position and left her there.

The next day, I noticed the same thing but this time around I closely observed her before she went to bed and before she slept off, she had a pouted expression on her face.

So, I concluded that part of the reasons why babies pout in their sleep is as a result of the facial expression they had before falling asleep.”

I realized a lot of parents are wondering why do babies pout in their sleep and just like I hinted in that study from Washington University, it is because babies are normally considered lip experts and it is said that the lips are crucial to them as a means of communication.

This translates that a lot of lip activity will be going on with babies and pouting is usually one of those activities.

But here is a fun thing about pouting. Babies do not sleep the way we (adults, and teenagers) sleep. This is because they have zero worries.

Their sleeping pattern alternates between non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement (REM).

Their sleep is what pediatrics calls Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM).

In the REM, babies tend to move their eyes around quickly under closed eyelids. REM is mostly common in newborn babies.

Light rays coming in from the window and movement in their cribs cause them to change position and mostly change the expression on their face.

Most times, the change of expression on their face causes them to pout as they try to convey displeasure or restlessness.

This is another common reason why they pout while sleeping

Mrs. Irene also said:

Babies are really attractive creatures and wonderful but they have their different types of trouble. Sporadically, when they attempt to express their displeasure, anger, or frustration with the situation, they pout to communicate.”

Is the baby having a nightmare?

I had a brief online session with Mrs. Fabian (a mother of 3) about pouting and she said:

“I get really disturbed when my baby pouts while sleeping but she actually looks cute pouting. Most times when she has that expression on her face, I feel she is having a nightmare, and the thought of her having a nightmare is a bit scary.”

So, the question now is: Do babies really have nightmares?

No, they don’t.

This is because, at this phase, their brain is still underdeveloped.

Although, there is no specific age when a child is supposed to start having nightmares.

“My 6-month-old baby pouts a lot while sleeping and he wakes up at night crying. Is he having a nightmare?” A young mother asked.

According to Ahmed: “Between the ages of 4 and 6 months, the start of teething is a common reason for night waking. So, a baby pouting while sleeping might just be teething and has nothing to do with nightmares.”

Nightmares are sometimes mistaken for NIGHT TERRORS but there is a difference.

A night terror is also known as sleep terror.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a night terror is the feeling of great fear experienced on suddenly waking at night.

A night terror is not exactly a dream but it’s more like a sudden reaction of fear that happens during the transition from one sleep phase to another.

This normally happens about two to three hours after the baby falls asleep.

Further research shows that the most common age in which night terrors occur is a matter of ongoing debate.

Most often, these episodes emerge when a child is between 4 and 12 years of age and resolve spontaneously by adolescence or puberty.

However, many researchers noticed that babies may twitch in their sleep, changing the positioning of their bodies.

When they normally go through this type of sleep, their bodies tend to make involuntary movements, which could cause them to pout.

In simple terms, pouting is not associated with nightmares.

So, when next your baby pouts while sleeping, don’t get so worked up that he or she might be having a nightmare. It could be for other reasons mentioned above.

Are they trying to communicate when they pout?

“I feel this is actually a God-given talent to them since they can’t communicate with speech.” Mr. Mike, a scholar, said after closely observing babies.

Yes, most babies communicate through pouting.

They use it to tell you when they are not comfortable with certain things.

It is good practice, to watch your baby closely while they sleep. Occasionally, the position in which they sleep isn’t comfortable for them, and their facial expression changes as they try to pass a message to you.

When babies pout while sleeping they’re trying to communicate. More often than not, they are trying to express discomfort in their sleep or trying to change their sleeping positions.

As a parent, you need to get familiar with your baby so you could easily know the meaning of each facial expression on your baby’s face.


Pouting while sleeping isn’t something that should get you worried. Instead, you should see it as a call for attention. To study your child’s behaviors even further – sometimes children act quite differently from other kids.

It also has nothing to do with nightmares and it’s very normal for them to pout while sleeping because most times they maintain the face they had before falling asleep.

However constant pouting is a way babies have fun sometimes – you know how mischievous babies can get at times. Lol

On the flip side, constant pouting could be a way they’re trying to communicate discomfort of any sort.

This shouldn’t be of much burden to you because you can easily switch the baby’s position, which will enable the baby to sleep much better.

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