A crying baby is like a ticking time bomb for new parents. It pains them to think their baby may be hurting, even if he's probably just hungry. They immediately want to soothe and comfort, but the fact they can't sometimes tell why he's crying, well, that's when panic sets it.
Trying to figure out what your baby's cries mean would be manna from heaven, but there's no way of telling, right?
Enter this old clip we've uncovered from The Oprah Winfrey Show. It featured former mezzo-soprano turned parenting expert Priscilla Dunstan who boldly made the suggestion that it is possible to comprehend your baby's crying. In the video below, she claimed that she has a photographic memory for sound, allowing her to detect moods, and it became an indispensable tool when she became a mom.
According to Dunstan, all babies make five types of sounds before they cry. It's a vocal reflex, she says, much like your newborn reflexes, so it applies to babies aged 0 to 3 months (newborn reflexes usually disappear at three to four months). Each pre-cry sound corresponds to a particular need.
Here are the five kinds of infant vocal reflexes, as Dunstand explained it to Andrea Smith of Grey-Bruce Kids magazine. Now we advise you to take this with a grain of salt because, as we all know, not all babies are alike.
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"Neh" It has a distinct 'n' sound that happens when the baby's tongue touches the roof of his mouth. It means your baby is hungry, and he needs to feed. It's produced as part of the baby's sucking reflex, so he could also be turning from side to side, trying to find a nipple, licking his lips, or sucking on his fist.
"Owh" It comes with a bit of panting sound and is associated with the yawn reflex (and sounds like a yawn, too). It means your is infant is probably overstimulated and tired, and he wants to sleep. Your baby could also be rubbing his eyes, pulling his ears, or arching their backs as he makes this sound.
"Eh" It's a pre-cry that means your baby is telling you he needs to let out some air. It's produced as the baby's chest tightens in an attempt to release trapped air. Your baby could also be squirming when they make this sound as he tries to release the air in his chest.
"Heh" It has a distinct 'h' sound at the beginning, and it means your baby is uncomfortable. It's linked to a reflex related with the sense of touch. When you hear this, a baby may need a diaper change or is too warm or cold. If you try to feed him, he will most probably refuse.
"Eair" It has a distinct 'a' sound, and it tells you that baby needs to release gas. When you hear the sound, it feels distressed and urgent. The baby could also be grimacing; his body could become rigid and pull their legs towards their stomach.
While Dunstan has written three parenting books, her claims are disputed by other experts in the same field because it has not gone through rigorous testing or academic scrutiny. Its theory relies only on consumer surveys and small-group observations results.
Reading about it can be confusing, but if you hear some examples of these five pre-crying sounds at the video above (or head to the Dunstan Baby Languagewebsite), it kind of makes sense especially the sound for gas.
It would take a lot of observation and monitoring on your part to be able to decipher the sounds correctly. And just thinking about how close they all sound alike makes us wonder if it’s simply easier and faster just to do a quick check of the common reasons why the baby is crying.
Each baby is unique so rely on your baby's cues as you get used to them. Not all of moms have a photographic memory for sound, too, so we could be better off attending to our baby crying the old school way.