Decoding Your Babys Cries option 1

Many of the early days with your newborn are spent shushing, rocking, and swaddling in order to calm your sweet baby’s cries. There are so many unknowns when it comes to caring for a baby. Are they hungry? Are they tired? Do they have gas? Well, what if all the mystery in figuring out what a baby needs is unveiled to you in a simple concept known as Dunstan Baby Language. Let’s explore 5 common needs of a baby and how to decode those needs by listening to your baby’s cry.

Dunstan Baby Language (DBL) involves listening to the initial sounds a baby makes when they cry and deciphering what it means. DBL is an Australian company based in Sydney, but is known worldwide for the miraculous ways it has helped mothers, fathers, and caretakers understand their baby.

It’s important to acknowledge that babies do in fact express their needs through sound. Sure it’s not words like we adults are used to, but there are 5 distinct sounds or patterns that each baby makes to communicate. These sounds are easiest to recognize at the “pre-cry” stage. Once a baby is in a full-blown cry, the sounds become muffled and indiscernible.

5 Universal Needs of Babies

  • Food
  • Sleep
  • Help with burping
  • Help with releasing gas
  • Need to be comfortable

Dunstan Baby Language Sounds


The indication for hunger. This specific sound is created by the sucking reflex. You will hear a very distinctive “n” sound before each cry. Some other cues that are often seen in combination with the “neh” sound is rooting, head movement, and sucking on hands.


The indication that a baby is sleepy or tired. It is closely connected with the yawn reflex and general opening of the mouth. This reflex usually comes immediately before other symptoms of tiredness, arching back, rubbing the eyes, etc. Look at the baby’s mouth when you hear this sound, more likely than not it will be accompanied by an oval-shaped mouth (resembling a yawn).


The indication for needing to be burped. The “eh, eh, eh” sound before a cry occurs because the baby is trying to expel gas bubbles on his or her own, but cannot successfully do so without help. Catching this sound early is so beneficial as it can also reduce spit-ups, because you are not feeding on top of trapped air bubbles.


Is a harsh sound indicative of gas pain or lower abdominal discomfort. It is a fairly easy noise to discern due to it’s “urgency” noted in the baby. Your baby will often look uncomfortable, perhaps making unpleasant facial expressions and adjusting his or her legs more than usual. The best way to recognize gas pain is the classic grunt that is accompanied by the “eairh” sound.


The indication for being uncomfortable. Whether it’s a dirty diaper, too hot, or too cold, the baby produces this sound to communicate some kind of general discomfort. The sound you will hear is a “breathy” sound, repeated over and over, similar to panting. It can be difficult at first because it sounds similar to the “eh” cry, but with practice you’ll learn in no time.

The best way to master the skills of learning DBL, is to practice. Listen to as many baby cries as you can. For a visual and audio lesson in DBL, check out the Dunstan Baby Language Lesson 1 and Dunstan Baby Language Lesson 2.

If you’re interesting in reading more about DBL, check out the book Calm The Crying by the founder of Dunston Baby Language, Priscilla Dunston.

Once you have your beautiful baby in your arms, you will know exactly what they need every time you hear your sweet baby cry. Now, how’s that for mom-of-the-year award?!

For more information on pregnancy and parenting, head over to our EXPECT and NURTURE category!

Source: Dunstan Baby

Photo Credits: Dreams To DoJessica N.; Dani


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