Jan 062012

I don’t normally watch Oprah, but now that I am a Dad and a lot of my friends are Dads, I am discovering that we share Dad Stories and Dad Info and some of the most interesting stuff comes from Oprah. 

My buddy Rich (remember the publisher of creativepopupcards.com, that site on paper crafts and making pop up cards) whose daughter was born just a couple of weeks ago told me about this one.  Apparently there maybe such a thing as preverbal communication from babies that are more or less universal, and an Australian mezzo-soprano named Priscilla Dunstan claims to have discovered it.  She came on Oprah and here’s a Youtube clip of that segment.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about the “Dunstan Baby Language” system:

According to Dunstan, the five universal words (or sound reflexes) used by infants are:


I’m hungry – An infant uses the sound reflex "Neh" to communicate its 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 it needs 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 is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestines 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 have gas – An infant uses the sound reflex "Eh" to communicate that it needs 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.

Now her claims here have not been backed up by any rigorous scientific studies, but I will admit that I do recall Nathan making most of these sounds, and he still makes that “Eairh” sound when he has to poo, so there may be something to this claim. 


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