Baby Whispering: How to understand different baby cries [video]

Understanding different baby cries

We all know how frustrating and heartbreaking it is to listen to our baby cry and not understand what they need. But Australian mum Priscilla Dunstan has bridged the communication gap to decipher a newborn’s cries.

Priscilla created Dunstan Baby Language – based on a belief that the cries babies make are an important and necessary form of communication. Priscilla identified five specific sounds within a baby’s cries, all of which represent a different need. If we are willing to listen, it is actually possible for parents to learn the five different cries and act accordingly.

What is your baby trying to say?

“Neh” – “I’m hungry”

The ‘neh’ sound comes from a baby’s sucking reflex. As bub’s tongue is pushed to the roof, the ‘neh’ sound comes out.

“Owh” – “I’m tired” 

The ‘owh’ sound comes from a baby’s yawning reflex and often comes out when bub is sleepy. It can also sometimes come out as an “Ahh” sound.

“Heh” – “I’m uncomfortable”

Similar to the ”neh’ sound, this sound signals that bub isn’t comfortable. They might be cold, itchy, wet or simply in need of a different position to lie in. Some babies will repeat the sound – “heh, heh, heh” when they feel discomfort.

“Eair” – “I’m gassy” 

Gas is a common problem in infants and “eair” is their signal that it’s time to break wind. So break out these bottom burp tricks and relive their lower gas. The gassy baby cry is often accompanied by a newborn pulling their knees up or pushing down and out with their legs.

“Eh” – “Burp me” 

As well as needing to fart, babies can let you know that they need a burp. It’s all in the “eh”.

Need an auditory interpretation? Priscilla explains the different sounds (much more eloquently than our attempt) in the fascinating video below:

So there we are – newborn cries decoded. Sure, it may be a little tricky to learn to recognise these different baby cries but you will, with practice and patience. And, compared to comprehending teenager slang, decoding your baby’s cries is a walk in the park!

Once you’ve mastered your baby’s cries, have a look at these tips to help little ones learn to love tummy time. 

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