Remember that old Simpsons episode where Homer’s brother invented a baby language interpreter? It could take in Maggie’s babytalk and spit out plain English? Yeah, that seemed just plain ridiculous, didn’t it?
Well it’s not.
I happened across an episode of Oprah one afternoon that changed my life (pause for heckling). A guest on the show was Pricilla Dunstan, a former singer with a photographic memory for sound. Dunstan claimed to have found 5 universal words that make up a “language” that all infants speak.
The 5 words are:
I’m hungry - An infant uses the sound reflex “Neh” to communicate their hunger. The sound is produced when the sucking reflex is triggered, and the tongue is pushed up on the roof of the mouth.
I’m sleepy - An infant uses the sound reflex “Owh” to communicate that they are tired. The sound is produced much like an audible yawn.
I’m experiencing discomfort - An infant uses the sound reflex “Heh” to communicate stress, discomfort, or perhaps that they need a fresh diaper. The sound is produced by a response to a skin reflex, such as feeling sweat or itchiness in the bum.
I have lower gas - An infant uses the sound reflex “Eairh” to communicate they have flatulence or an upset stomach. The sound is produced when trapped air from a belch that is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestine tighten to force the air bubble out. Often, this sound will indicate that a bowel movement is in progress, and the infant will bend its knees, bringing the legs toward the torso. This leg movement assists in the ongoing process.
I need to burp - An infant uses the sound reflex “Eh” to communicate that they need to be burped. The sound is produced when a large bubble of trapped air is caught in the chest, and the reflex is trying to release this out of the mouth.
These 5 words, once you tune yourself to your infant and his/her pronunciation of the words, the way you interact with your child will change. It’s no longer a guessing game trying to figure out what the child needs. A brief moment taken to listen to them will tell you nearly always just what the problem is. Then you take steps to solve the problem. This makes the job so much easier.
I used this technique while taking care of Thessaly. I’ve been able to tell what another parent’s child needed, just in passing. I was able to tell that Torbin was hungry within the first few hours of his life.
New parents, this is an amazing couple of DVDs. It’s easily the best tool that you could have in your childcare arsenal.