I had heard about the Dunstan Baby Language as “the woman who speaks baby talk on Oprah” several years ago. It sounded like a brilliant idea, but without my own crying baby, there wasn’t much opportunity — or drive — to test it.
I flirted with the idea of buying the DVDs a few times when I was pregnant with my third baby only to talk myself out of such a gimmicky purchase.
Then, during a particularly stressful 3am shrieking fit (his, not mine), I one-click ordered it. Yes, in the middle of the night. I was so desperate to understand what my five-week old crying baby was trying to tell me and how I could fix it that I would have speed-dialed Priscilla Dunstan herself and invited her over if I knew how. Such desperation also caused me to reread all the parenting books that I assumed I had graduated. I had freshly dogeared copies of all my old favorites in nearly every room of the house. Insanity, I tell you.
So, then what?
Within two days, a package of two DVDs arrived at my house. I was so relieved to see them. Priscilla Dunstan, the baby lady, advises you to watch the first DVD and practice before moving on to the second one. Luckily, each of the two lessons is less than 20 minutes because c’mon folks, I need answers NOW. I watched the first video lesson immediately and waited another day to watch the second.
Just like I already knew, she outlined five different baby “words” and their meaning. To make it easier to hear the words, several different babies made each of the sounds. I honed in on the key differences just like she suggested. She also offered helpful parenting tips to calm fussy babies for each of the different scenarios.
I summarized my new learnings for Alec and the big brothers too, both to further internalize the sounds and to get more allies in solving Sawyer’s issues.
Does it work?
Yes and no. I recognized most of the sounds and was able to give more immediate relief to my baby. That part was excellent. Holden and Milo joined me in audio detective work while Sawyer screamed in the minivan during school pickup. We upped our empathy and really paid attention rather than just cranking the Death Cab for Cutie and loudly shushing as we had been doing.
But (and there’s always a but).
My baby made a few cries that sounded nothing at all like her language. And after about six or eight weeks, he stopped sounding like any of the DVD babies.
The bottom line.
Pick up a copy when you’re still pregnant. Study it with your partner and put a cheat-sheet of the baby cries up on your fridge. I think it’s a great tool to have from Day One so watch, listen, learn, and use it immediately because your baby will move beyond these sounds by about two months old.
I highly recommend for a mom’s group to buy and study together for an afternoon or to train your big kids about their new baby sibling.
But if you’re at the six week peak of fussiness, this will not solve your problem. Just tough it out.
Buy Dunstan Baby Language on amazon. Or borrow my copy. I’m not using it anymore!