The Secret Language of Newborns
Did you know that newborns have a secret language that they use to communicate with their mothers? If you’re wondering whether you were absent the day they taught the language in Mom School, you’re not alone!
(Seriously, why isn’t there a real Mom School…)
By the time a baby is around 6 months old, a mom can usually figure out why he’s crying. “He’s hungry,” she’ll say with certainty, and sure enough, as soon as she pops a bottle into his mouth, the little baby hungrily downs it. The older a baby gets, the easier it is for a mom to distinguish his cries and determine what her baby is trying to tell her, whether it’s hunger, discomfort or fatigue.
Newborns, on the other hand, are a whole different story. 🙄
Every little newborn cry seems to sound the same and newborns are notorious for crying nonstop. Frantic moms try every possible solution from a feeding to a diaper change to a pacifier to rocking to patting burping… only to have the baby howl even louder.
Turns out, newborns have 5 basic cries, and once you can tell what they are, caring for your newborn gets a whole lot easier. Imagine knowing what your baby needs instead of playing a guessing game while she screams.
Priscilla Dunstan was born with a photographic memory and an extraordinary gift of hearing. When she was 4 years old, her mother played a recording of a Mozart concerto and Priscilla played it back on her violin note for note. Having heard it once. At. Four. Years. Old.
When she became a mother, Priscilla’s sensitive hearing led her to discover that her baby cried 5 distinct cries to communicate his needs. To be sure that this wasn’t unique to her baby, she tested this theory on over 1000 babies around the world of all different races and colors.
Alright, enough history. Let’s get to the part you really care about: what is this language and how can I learn it?!
They all sound quite similar at first, but after listening to them a few times, you will be able to differentiate them and understand what your baby is trying to tell you.
The 5 Universal Newborn Cries
Neh = I’m hungry. This is the sound of the sucking reflex. When a baby gets hungry, she automatically starts to suck and when she cries and makes the sucking reflex simultaneously, this is the sound that emerges. Here’s what it sounds like
Owh= I’m tired. This cry is based off the yawning reflex. If you would yawn and cry at the same time, here’s what the cry would sound like
Heh= I’m uncomfortable. You’re specifically listening for the “h” sound at the start of the cry. This is different than neh! This cry is a signal that your baby is either too hot or too cold or needs a diaper change or a shift in position. Here’s what it sounds like
Eairh= My stomach hurts. This cry signifies lower stomach discomfort, either in the form of gas or an oncoming bowel movement. Brace yourself before you listen to this one- this baby is not happy!
Eh = Burp me! This cry means that there’s an air bubble trapped in the upper part of the chest and your baby needs to burp. Here’s what it sounds like
That’s all you need to know. Learn these 5 sounds and you’ll never again wonder what it is that your baby needs. You can listen to these recordings to learn the different sounds or download Priscillas app, Dunstan Baby Language, here.