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How to Speak Baby

After a nurse told her not to worry about her baby's constant colicky crying, Priscilla Dunstan, now 32, decided that there must be a better answer. As a professional musician in Australia with a "photographic" memory for sound, she began to keep notes on her newborn son's wails, and, sure enough, detected a pattern -- five specific sounds that he would make when he was hungry, tired, needed to burp, was uncomfortable, or had gas.

"These words are created when sound is added to a baby's natural reflexes," explains Dunstan, whose research on over 1000 babies has led her to believe that these words are universal among infants during the first three months of life. "This system is about helping the mother to believe in her own intuition," she says.

Before you get started, keep in mind that it's easiest to recognize the words if you listen during what Dunstan calls the "pre-cry" stage, before your baby is hysterical. When you hear more than one word, act on the word you hear most. If you're having trouble, shift your baby's position (sit her up on your lap, for example) and try to listen for the distinctive part of each word (such as the 'n' in "neh"). Still not sure what he's saying? Just care for your baby as you normally would and try again next time.

[SLUG {The five words every mom needs to know:}]
How to Speak Baby[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {"I'm hungry!"}]
The word: Neh
Where it comes from: The noise made when a baby pushes his tongue to the roof of his mouth because he wants to eat, "neh," is an infant's sucking reflex with sound added to it.

[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {"I need to burp!"}]
The word: Eh
Where it comes from: When a big bubble of air is caught in your baby's chest, the sound you hear is "eh," as your baby tries to get the burp out.

[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {"I'm tired!"}]
The word: Owh
Where it comes from: An audible yawn, you can spot the word because your baby's mouth forms an oval shape as he says it.

How to Speak Baby[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {"I'm uncomfortable!"}]
The word: Heh
Where it comes from: Your baby's response to a skin reflex (the same one that governs sweating) signals irritation -- a wet diaper or an itchy bodysuit.

[PURPLE_TEXT_BOLD {"I have gas!"}]
The word: Eaire
Where it comes from: If a burp doesn't make it out, it moves through your baby's digestive system -- "eaire" is the sound you get as the muscles of the intestine and stomach tighten to force the air bubble out.

Video Exclusive!
[TOUT_ARROW_LINK {,19840,1564131,00.html} {Priscilla reveals the hidden secrets of your baby's cry}]
[TOUT_ARROW_LINK {,19840,1567069,00.html} {How to listen for the burping cue}]
[TOUT_ARROW_LINK {,19840,1569704,00.html} {Finding the word inside the cry}]

To purchase the Dunstan Baby Language DVD go to [XREF_CLASS {} {} {_blank}].