Awhile ago Priscilla Dunstan appeared on the Oprah show. Dunstan says that her memory for sound is photographic and that she can differentiate resonance, textures, and colors in a voice.
She used her abilities to see patterns in her newborn son's cries. Then she researched more than 1,000 other baby's cries and realized that there were 5 distinct cries that babies have no matter where in the world they live.
She says that their cries are similar because they are based on the baby's reflexes. And since reflexes are not dependent on race, location, or gender, the five sounds are the same everywhere in the world.
These 5 cries only are present when a baby is between zero and three months old and are most pronounced right before they start crying. Although they sound similar, if you carefully listen you should be able to tell them apart.
1. "I have to burp" = "Eh"
If you hear your baby make a short cry and repeat "eh,eh,eh,eh" over and over then your newborn has to burp. Gently hold your baby to your chest, with his or her head over your shoulder, and pat them gently on their back.
2. "I am hungy" = "Neh"
The "neh" sound finds its basis in the sucking reflex. When babies combine a cry with this reflex they make the "neh" sound. If you hear this sound you should give your baby a bottle.
3. "I feel uncomfortable" = "Heh"
When a baby feels discomfort he or she makes a "heh" cry. When you hear this cry put your baby in a different position - or, then again, you may have to change their diaper.
4. "I'm tired" = "Owh"
The yawning reflex is the basis for the "owh" cry. The first "owh" may be a long, pronounced cry. Your baby may also rub their eyes and yawn. Often the more tired the baby is the more difficult it can be for them to fall asleep. When you hear "owh" try to help your baby to go to sleep.
5. "I have lower gas pain" = "Eair"
When a baby experiences lower gas pain he or she will often make the "eair" crying sound as they pull their legs up toward their chest. When you hear this sound and see this movement your baby may like to have you massage their tummy with a slow, gentle circular movement. You could also rub their back as you either lay them across your legs or hold them in the crux of your arm while supporting their head. As a matter of fact, you should also make sure that you securely hold your baby's head.
You'll most likely hear these sounds right before your baby starts to cry hysterically. If you hear more than one sound then you should react to the one that is most dominant.
If you don't understand the sounds they are making try comforting your newborn as best you can - and listen for the sounds again the next time.
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