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Free App Helps Parents Figure Out Why the Hell Baby Is Crying

Photograph by Twenty20

When babies cry, there could be a multitude of reasons why they're upset. Is she overtired? Is it gas? Maybe he's a method actor who's seriously playing you (no joke, fake crying is real). Sometimes it's hard for new parents to figure out what their children really need. Ugh, if only you could translate "baby cry"!

Thanks to a mom of four and professor at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, that idea isn't such a stretch. Dr. Ariana Anderson has figured out how to predict three major reasons why the baby is crying: hunger, in pain or fussy. The algorithm also correctly flags more than 90 percent of pain cries.

"When I became a parent, I had just finished my Ph.D., and I thought I was very, very smart, and then I had a baby and I felt like an idiot because I couldn't understand what my baby needed. It was very, very stressful and overwhelming for me," Anderson told CBS.

The free ChatterBaby app was initially designed to help deaf parents figure out if their baby was crying (versus, say, babbling or laughing) and why their little one was upset. But it didn't take long for researchers to understand that it could be useful for all new parents who are hoping for a little gut check.

All you have to do is record the baby's cry for five seconds on the app, then an algorithm will compare your baby's sounds to the sounds in the database and tell you the likelihood of why your baby's crying. (You can also personalize the algorithm for your baby if you decide you want to send in audio or video clips.)

Photograph by ChatterBaby

This database was created based on 2,000 audio samples of infant cries, including sounds from baby ear piercings and vaccinations to help determine if that high-energy cry is because the baby is in pain. For the hungry and fussy states, a panel of veteran moms listening to the cries had to unanimously agree on the label.

Right now, only those three reasons are predicted because they have consistent acoustic patterns for babies of all ages. But researchers are hoping that other states, such as colic, gassy, dirty diaper, tired, scared and bored, will be added after they get enough reliable data.

Now, if someone could invent an app that would immediately get Baby to sleep, too, that would be great, thanks.

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