What Is Dunstan Baby Language?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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According to the Dunstan Baby Language system, babies around the globe share a primal universal language that can be reduced to five highly meaningful sounds. Parents who are trained to recognize the distinctive features between one of these sounds and the others will understand what it is the infant is trying to ask for many months before they begin to form words in the first learned language. Priscilla Dunstan, a mezzo-soprano opera singer, has determined that these vocalizations are natural reflexes to various states of discomfort. Parents who respond to them can save their babies from frustration that eventually leads to a hysterical state.

The Dunstan Baby Language utterances are born of a connection between the infant’s desires or needs and the physical body. A hungry baby knows that hunger is satisfied through the act of sucking. Even if there is not a breast or bottle offered, the baby will move its tongue against the roof of its mouth, vocalizing "neh, neh, neh." A parent who has been trained to recognize this particular sound knows the child is essentially asking to be fed.

Parents might note that, after the child is fed, the vocalization changes to "eh." This is the sound that is naturally produced when a bubble of gas has begun to rise from the baby’s stomach and the child attempting to belch. This sound is essentially a request to be burped.


The next sound the Dunstan Baby Language system reports is "eairh." A gas bubble that has moved down from the stomach into the intestines is the point of origin of this sound. The percussive grunt is often accompanied by the knees being drawn in toward the belly. Some babies also use this vocalization to indicate a bowel movement.

Babies who are ready to be changed, are sweating, or are otherwise uncomfortable might notify a nearby adult with the vocalization, "heh." Once the diaper has been changed or the baby made more comfortable in other ways, the vocalization might change to "owh," which indicates a readiness for sleep. While the Dunstan Baby Language system has not been scientifically tested, many parents around the globe have begun applying its lessons in order to understand the needs of their infants.

Once babies enter the language acquisition stage and turn their attention to intentional sound units made by caretakers and other family members, they begin to create a number of intentional sounds that they link together as babbling. These infants are practicing the sounds that their particular first language includes and learning to ignore sounds that their mouths can make that aren’t included among that language’s morphemes. The deeper the child grows into the language acquisition phase, which typically begins around three months, the more they are likely to attempt to use learned, intentionally manufactured sounds to communicate their needs rather than the reflexive, natural utterances that previously signaled their needs.


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