When I was lying on the sofa during my last pregnancy’s first trimester (you know, when you feel sick all the time, and have no more energy than it takes to lie around watching TV), I paid especially close attention to the Oprah show that aired one afternoon. When the announcement of upcoming guests and topics was made just as the show was starting, a chord was stuck in me, and I knew I would be giving my utmost attention to this program!
One of Oprah’s guests that day was an Australian mom named Priscilla Dunstan who shared with the audience her discovery of distinct infant cries and their meanings. I was glued to the TV because I knew that once again very soon, we would be parents to brand new infants. Ms. Dunstan in her method called Dunstan Baby Language describes the 5 different and distinguishable cry sounds that babies in their first few months of age make when they are expressing different wants and needs.
As Priscilla began to talk, I reached for already opened envelope that was on a side table nearby, picked up a less-than-sharp blue crayon, flipped over the envelope and started to jot down some notes. I had lived through the early months with two previous sets of twins, and one of the difficult and frustrating aspects was trying to translate my babies’ cries. I’d so often wished that the babies could TELL me what was wrong during fussy times that, no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t always resolve.
According to Priscilla, babies’ cries are reflexes that are detectable in 0-3 month old babies. What’s important is that you have to catch these sound signals early on, because if not responded to with the requested need readily addressed, the baby will stop using them as they get older.
So here are the 5 distinguishable sounds that infants use to express what they need:
- “EH” means “I need to burp”
- “NEH” means “I’m hungry” (and might be accompanied by rooting for the breast and sucking on his lil hand)
- “OWH” means “I’m sleepy” (with this cry usually comes the little wiggly chin)
- “HEH” means “Discomfort” (“I need for diaper change, I don’t like the feel of these jammies, I scratched myself”)
- “EAIR” means “Abdominal Gas” (I got this one a lot, and it usually turned up in the late afternoon and lasted through midnight, as colic would kick in!)
For exhausted new parents, these tips can save lots of time and ease frustration. I truly believe these sound translations are accurate because I put it to the test once Sean and Benjamin arrived, and I was amazed when I compared the sounds to what I’d learned … My husband and I really could apply a cry sound to a baby need (most of the time)!
You’ll be surprised how distinguishable these are, and how you’ll readily you’ll begin to pick up on these sounds. And again, as all mothers know, any and all tips that can ease the challenges of having newborns, (especially in multiples) are very welcomed!!