Have you ever listened to a crying baby and thought to yourself, “I wish I knew what was wrong?” If so… read on. This article is all about my LOVE for Priscilla Dunstan and the Dunstan Baby Language.
The Dunstan Baby Language takes the guessing game out of crying babies.
When I first heard about the Dunstan Baby Language I asked myself:
Why didn’t anyone tell me about this secret baby language?!
Why isn’t EVERYONE talking about it??
The Dunstan Baby Language is something that every newborn caretaker needs to know about… Whether you are a first-time mom or a veteran mom, I guarantee you will learn something valuable from Priscilla Dunstan.
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Finding The Secret Dunstan Baby Language
When my son was 3 or 4 weeks old, I was frantically Googling:
‘Why is my baby crying?’
‘What to do if your baby won’t stop crying?’
I kept coming across the same advice:
- Feed your baby
- Chage your baby
- Burp your baby
- Put your baby down for a nap
- OR, the dreaded: You have a colicky baby
This is the same advice that I had heard a million times, but nothing was working.
So, of course, I start to think my baby has colic.
While venting to a friend, I was referred to Priscilla Dunstan’s appearance on Oprah in 2012.
I watched the first 30 seconds of the video, and I instantly knew the Dunstan Baby Language was the answer to my problems. Keep reading for the full video.
My baby didn’t have colic, I just didn’t understand what his cries meant.
Priscilla Dunstan is a talented Australian woman. She is an Australian Opera singer by day and a scientist who was featured on Oprah in 2012, by night.
When Priscilla became a mother, she noticed that her son would make the same sounds over and over again.
She knew there were several distinct sounds that he made.
As she started spending more time around newborn babies, she noticed that all of the babies made similar sounds.
She investigated whether these sounds (or cries) had any meaning.
Were these sounds the baby’s way of trying to communicate with their caretakers?
Years later, she revealed her studies and what she calls the Dunstan Baby Language.
The Dunstan Baby Language is a universal language, or common language, that all babies speak.
There are five words–that are typically called “sounds,” “cries,” or “sound reflexes,” because they aren’t phonetic sounds–that all babies use. Babies do not consciously know that they are using these words.
These sound reflexes are like many of the other reflexes babies are born with: The Moro Reflex, Sucking Reflex, Skin Reflex, etc.
In the Oprah Winfrey segment, Priscilla explains the Dunstan Baby Language–a way for parents to understand the common sounds that infants make.
After watching and experiencing the life-changing effects of this simple baby language, I couldn’t believe that they actually let moms leave the hospital without knowing this information.
It was so incredibly helpful… I just wish I had found it sooner!
Priscilla Dunstan Oprah Winfrey Show Video
So here you have it, mamas!
A super-helpful newborn baby hack to communicate with your child on day one:
After you watch the video, invest some time in learning the exact sound of each of your baby’s words.
In the video, you hear a wide range of what the ‘words’ can sound like, and it might take a day or two to identify all of them with your child.
Don’t get discouraged!
Pro Tip: If a few days have gone by and you are still having trouble hearing the different sounds, Priscilla offers a whole class on the Dunstan Baby Language called the Dunstan Baby Language New Parents Course.
I have taken the course, and write about how helpful it was to me later in this article.
So keep reading!
What is the Dunstan Baby Language
Priscilla Dunstan is a mom, who realized that her son made consistent ‘sounds’ (which are referred to as words).
When she really paid attention, she noticed that all babies made similar sounds to her son.
She was intrigued that the babies were making similar sounds and wanted to see if there was a deeper connection.
Priscilla Dunstan did a huge research study over the course of many years and found out that these cries related to the common physical needs of all newborns.
In fact, over the course of her research, Priscilla has studied more than 1000 babies!
The basic needs of newborn babies aren’t a huge myster: they might be hungry, sleepy, gassy, or uncomfortable.
The problem is just figuring out which one it is 🙄.
The Dunstan Baby Language teaches you that your baby’s cry is different when they are hungry, sleepy, gassy, or uncomfortable. There are specific meanings behind the sounds that newborn babies make.
Your baby is actually using words to communicate with you!
Some people also refer to these as the Dunstan Baby cries. The reason is that these sounds happen right before and when babies cry.
Once you learn the 5 sounds that babies make, you will be able to tend to their needs quickly before they get too upset–think: uncontrollable crying
The Five Words In The Dunstan Baby Language System
The five words help to identify when your baby is:
While it might seem like these are obvious reasons that babies might get upset and cry I seriously underestimated how hard it is as a new mother to figure out which particular need a baby had.
With just the help of the 12-minute video segment from Oprah, I was able to more quickly identify why my baby was crying.
By understanding why my baby was crying and responding to his needs quicker, I was able to decrease the amount of crying.
…Thus also decreasing my stress as a new mother.
It is estimated that infant distress is the number 1 source of stress for primary caregivers of newborn babies. Here’s a tool that can help lower this stress, and allow you to spend more time bonding with your baby.
For me, getting to spend more time bonding with my newborn baby and less time frazzled by crying was a huge blessing.
The Dunstan Baby Language helped me realize my son was always fussy after
Does The Dunstan Baby Language Actually Work?
I was a little skeptical about if it would work for my son…
I watched the video, studied my baby’s cries, and after an entire day of being able to understand him I was so ecstatic I knew had to tell my husband about it.
(He looked at me like I was crazy, btw…)
But… A few hours in, he started making comments like, ‘oh, he is making the ‘eh’ sound, he must have gas.’
Then, he would burp the baby and the baby would calm down and relax!
Just like me, my husband was sold within the first few hours.
I did a little more research to see if others had had the same experience as us.
Using The Dunstan Baby Language To Get More Consecutive Hours Of Newborn Sleep
The Dunstan Baby Language was super helpful to me during the day (I’ll talk to you more about this and my son’s gas later), but it was also extremely helpful for getting more consecutive sleep at night:
If I heard him stirring, I could figure out what he needed by listening to the sounds that he was making–like a dream feed–before he woke up.
I could feed him in his swaddle while the baby sleeps, put him back in his bassinet, and let him continue sleeping.
As my son got a little older and was dealing with gas and reflux, I could listen and know that he was just squirming and trying to pass gas, instead of wondering if he was hungry or needed to be changed, which would have woken him up.
How Long Can You Use The Dunstan Baby Language?
The Dunstan Baby Language is a language that all newborn babies use. Once your baby or 6-12 old infants can start producing sounds (like babbles or mimicking) on their own, then they gradually stop using the Dunstan Baby Language.
Want More Information?
Priscilla Dunstan has launched a new course if you want to check it out, called The Dustan Baby Language New Parents Course.
AND, keep reading for my full review of the Dunstan Baby Language New Parents Course.
In her 8 years of research, Priscilla found that 90% of mothers found the system highly beneficial, and 100% reported the system to be highly valuable.
How The Dunstan Baby Language Helped My Baby
My son had a lot of gas pain as an infant, and it was difficult for us to know if it was upper gas (burp) or lower gas (fart or bowel movement) that was causing him pain.
The Dunstan Baby Language teaches that babies will make different sounds depending on which type of gas they are experiencing.
This was so helpful for me!
Instead of just guessing and burping him for 10 or 15 minutes (with no success), or leg movement assists and bicycle legs for hours, I could tell immediately which one to do.
This saved me time and helped immediately relieve the discomfort for my son–before he was hysterical from pain.
It Might Be Colic… But It Might Not
Like I said before, my son had a lot of gas pain.
As he was getting older, we realized that his gas pain was pretty severe and that he was spitting up excessively.
The Dunstan Baby Language gave us peace of mind knowing that it was definitely gas, but I also knew the severity was starting to be outside the realm of normal.
I took my son to the pediatrician and had a consult with the lactation consultant.
She watched me breastfeed my son, asked about my diet (I had given up major allergens as a first step–which did help), but she witnessed the spitting up, crying, and squirming that my son was doing firsthand.
Her suspicion was that he was suffering from reflux, and she brought in the pediatrician.
The pediatrician diagnosed the reflux. With the symptoms that I was describing, what the lactation consultant saw, and a bright red throat that was seen during the physical exam, the pediatrician knew we had the right diagnosis.
While we were there, she said, ‘this WOULD have been a classic case of colic,’ (when a baby cries excessively but we don’t know why) but went on to say how happy she was that we were able to get a diagnosis and start him on a medication to ease the symptoms.
After a few days on the medication, we had a much happier baby on our hands!
While the Dunstan Baby Language cannot be used to diagnose, treat, or cure an illness, it was just a tool that I had as a new mom that let me identify that my son was really gassy and it was really painful.
It also helped me raise a red flag in my head to advocate for my son at the pediatrician’s office.
I am so happy that I didn’t settle and assume my son had colic.
After all, that is what my friends, family, and the internet were all telling me!
Learning More About The Dunstan Baby Language
If you’re like me, you might be looking for additional tools and resources to help you learn and use the Dustan Baby Language.
When my son was an infant, I had to rely on the limited information that I could find on the internet.
Luckily, there is now a full course on the Dunstan Baby Language to guide you through the whole process.
If you’re interested in learning more about the course, read my full review below.
The Dunstan Baby Language New Parents Course: A Full Review
I connected with Priscilla a few months ago while writing this article.
My son is now a toddler, but I told Priscilla about how much her secret baby language helped my son.
She asked if I would try the course for free and give my feedback. I jumped at the opportunity, and I am really happy that this course is available to new mothers out there.
I reviewed this course not as a parent who desperately needs the information, but as a mom of a one-year-old who could have really benefited from having more information at the time. After all the 12-minute Oprah video was extremely helpful, so getting even more information would have given me more tools and confidence.
The course expands on the video in several important ways that I will elaborate on more:
- Extension of the video
- Practical solutions
- Modern approach
- Practice and quizzes
- Dunstan Baby Language Booklet
- Baby Notes
Overall, I recommend this course to new and veteran parents who are expecting.
There is so much information that could have benefited me, even more, when my son was an infant.
If you don’t want to commit to the course just yet, I think every parent should at least watch the video (watch the full video above!) before the arrival of their baby.
The Dunstan Baby Language New Parent Course also makes a great baby shower gift, so don’t forget to put it on your registry (see more below)!
Extension Of The Video
There is some overlap between the content in the video course and the content from the segment on Oprah, but the course goes more in-depth and provides more examples of each word and how to identify it.
I especially like how Priscilla explains how an adult would make each sound.
Since these aren’t phonetic sounds that we are used to using as adults, she explains how to position the tongue in relation to the roof of the mouth, lip shape, and more.
You can practice making the sound yourself to see what it looks and sounds like.
It really makes it easier to hear and understand your baby.
Priscilla gives practical solutions for soothing new babies ranging from different feeding positions, burping positions and techniques, and gas elimination positions and techniques.
There are a few positions and techniques in the course that I hadn’t heard of before.
I think several of those unique positions would have been beneficial to my son when he was a newborn, and I wish I had known about them sooner.
She also gives realistic approaches to each solution.
She accepts that not every baby is going to respond positively right away.
For example, your child might need gas relief massages for an hour or longer to pass it.
No, seriously, their tiny muscles of the intestines need some serious help to try and relax to be able to pass an air bubble or a bowel movement in the first few months.
Her message is simple: if the baby is continuing to make a gassy sound, continue trying to relieve it.
Don’t give up too soon thinking that something else might be the problem. Listen to your baby.
Pro Tip: If you have a super-gassy baby as I had, I swore by the Frida Baby Windii. These little straws are miracle workers for stubborn gas. If you are desperate and have tried everything else, these are definitely worth investigating!
The Dunstan Baby Language New Parent Course emphasizes modern philosophies: all babies are different and will have different needs.
There is no such thing as standard newborn care where all babies follow the same sleep patterns, feeding patterns, bowel movements, etc.
They show why you can’t put a newborn on a rigid schedule, and they give you the tools to create a more flexible one that works for the whole family.
Priscilla emphasizes letting your baby tell you (YES to talking newborns!) what they need.
If you listen to your baby you will see patterns and routines emerge that you can use to predict their schedule.
Hearing this was so refreshing.
A quick search on Google or Pinterest will give you 100 different newborn schedules to try.
As someone who tried at least a dozen of these schedules and failed, it would have been great for me to learn and use the information in this New Parent Course to create a routine based on *my* baby.
…Because my baby did not, and still does not, conform to any ‘typical’ baby behaviors…
Priscilla also teaches that there isn’t a right or wrong way when it comes to responding to your baby’s cues.
You don’t have to live by the “Eat, Play, Sleep” rule, or worry that nursing your baby to sleep is going to cause sleeping issues down the road.
You deal with your baby’s needs one at a time, and you bask in the glory of having a happier and less fussy baby–and ergo a happier and less stressed mommy.
Practice And Quizzes
After learning each of the 5 words, you are given a video clip to watch and try to separate that sound from the rest of the noises that babies typically make.
Then, Priscilla points out each time the baby says the word.
This is very helpful because it is relatively easy to identify each word when it is being said by itself, but it is tricky to identify the words with other distractions.
I have to admit, as someone who can practically recite the original video by heart, I assumed I knew everything there was to know about identifying baby words.
The course shows you exactly what sound to listen for, and other cues like the positioning of the baby’s tongue and the shape of the mouth to identify the sounds.
In the end, there are audio-only quizzes, where you are asked to identify which word a baby is saying.
The audio-only quizzes are actually MUCH harder because you can’t rely on the position of the tongue or the shape of the mouth to help you.
On my first audio-only quiz I scored an 8/10. I was unhappy.
I went back and paid more attention to the sound cues that Priscilla gave, especially for the word ‘eair.’
On my final audio-only quiz I scored 10/10 by using her techniques!
The Dunstan Baby Language Booklet
This is a 40-page resource that you can download and read at the beginning or the end of the course.
The booklet is very professional and gives tons of information about the history of the Dunstan Baby Language, the studies that have been done, and an overview of what the course provides.
It includes Priscilla’s story, and how she got to where she is today with the Secret Baby Language.
The booklet also goes in-depth which each of the 5 words, providing additional information for each on top of what is in the course.
Toward the end of the course, you are given a resource called the Baby Notes.
This is a chart that allows you to track your baby’s schedule based on the five words of the Dunstan Baby Language.
You can use these notes to look for patterns to help set a flexible schedule based on your baby’s individual needs.
The graphic is well organized, and I wouldn’t change the content at all–which is saying something for me because I almost always modify printables in some way.
Dunstan Baby Language For Dads
My husband loved being able to identify the big culprit for our son’s cries in those early weeks.
It gave him the confidence to address a situation independently, and in turn, I could *gasp* relax!
Dad Tip: Moms have a certain intuition when it comes to understanding the needs of a newborn. Dads can get frustrated because of this. They want to help but don’t know what the baby needs. The Dunstan Baby Language gives dads an understanding of what different baby noises and cries mean, allowing them to tend to their baby’s needs.
Any mom knows that you have a sixth sense for understanding your baby’s needs.
But, dads have a harder time. Most dads do not have the same kind of intuition, and they find it really frustrating to have no idea how to meet their baby’s needs.
Out of the dads surveyed in her research, Priscilla found that 66% of fathers reported less stress, were more involved in their baby’s care, and had more positive relationships with the mothers of the babies as a result of using the Dustan Baby Language method.
For this reason, the Dunstan Baby Language New Parents Course is beneficial for the whole family!
A Unique Baby Shower Gift For The First, Second, Or Third Child
You can gift the course to someone else!
The Dunstan Baby Language New Parents Course is also an awesome idea for a second or third child since parents often have most of the gear they need from the first child.
I really like this as a gift idea, because, as a new mom, spending money on a course like this would not be my top priority…
But as a veteran mom looking back, it would have been so helpful!!
So here you have it, mommas! A super-helpful newborn baby hack to communicate with your child on day one: