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We were visiting with our younger daughter, son-in-law, and three-month old baby last weekend, and once again we found out that there are a lot of parenting things we never knew (despite having raised our own two daughters and having been fairly involved in the early years of our other three grand children).

For instance, did you know that a baby is ‘talking’ to you almost as soon as it’s born?


Yup. There are five types of crying (‘words’) that communicate five different messages, according to Australian mother and researcher Priscilla Dunstan. She has identified five universal sounds that babies all around the world ‘speak.’

When the crying sounds like Neh, with the emphasis on the n, that means the little tyke is hungry.

When it sounds like Owh, with the emphasis on the O, then the baby is telling you she’s sleepy or tired.

Heh, with the emphasis on the first H, the message is about discomfort.

Eairh, with the emphasis on the r, or the rh, then the kid has ‘lower gas.’

Eh, burp the baby.

You can see and hear more about these ‘crying words’ by going to this YouTube site, where Oprah extols what Dunstan has discovered and where you can get a short course in distinguishing the five types of cries.

So when my daughter told me about all of this, I, of course, wrote down all five cries/sounds and followed young Samantha around all weekend, listening to her cries and what she was saying.

For me, most of the cries sounded like Eh, the ‘burp me’ cry. But I know my hearing skills are questionable (I have trouble hearing what Ellen is saying to me when she is in the same room with her back to me).  Fortunately, my daughter told me that these five sounds really only work from 0-3 months, and I felt better.

I also learned there is such a thing as a “Mantra Cry” — something about the difference between a cry for help and one that is not calling for you to rescue.  This is a kind of ‘fussy’ cry, not one that demands any real action by its caretakers. Other things I learned had to do with putting the baby on its back in a crib, lots of new info about how much sleep the baby needs, why some babies don’t poop all the time, and info about the ‘right’ car seats. Also, apparently no matter what your question is about your baby, you can get endless answers/advice from the Internets, often directly opposing answers and advice.

How could we have raised our kids without all this information?

I think we were probably just lucky.

As for Samantha, it seems as if her parents are doing pretty well at understanding her and taking care of her needs.