During the weekend I met my niece for the first time. It’s astonishing how a being so small can take up so much time and energy and resources. I suppose it comes with being totally dependent on others and requiring intervention for your wellbeing every three hours or so.

How do you tell what the infant needs: to be fed, burped, changed, moved or put to bed? Before babies between one and three months old begin to cry, they might make one of five sounds, called the pre-cry. These five sounds are:

Ne – I’m hungry.
Ow – I’m tired.
He – I’m uncomfortable.
Eh – I need to burp.
Eair – I need to expel air, liquid or some low viscosity material from my nether regions.

Apparently these pre-cries are universal. Maybe there are others and further study might reveal them. Babies might be able to climb further up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs than previously thought. We might learn other pre-cries, such as:

Oa – Is this milk halal?
Nuh – I doubt that this nappy is 200-count Egyptian cotton.
Nuo – I don’t care what you say: I want to run!
Weae – I think you’ll find the answer to seven across is “olfactory”. Speaking of which – whoa, what did I eat?!

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