Dunstan Baby Language: Understand Your Baby’s Cries

Dunstan Baby Australia

Sonja Preston is a passionate and inspiring Teacher, Trainer, Parenting Consultant, Life Coach, Family Support Worker, Mum and Grandma. Like many new parents, she wished that she had understood the meaning of her babies’ cries when they were little. On discovering Dunstan Baby Language, she was inspired to become a certified trainer and has since taught the method to many families across Australia. Dunstan Baby Language (DBL) is the first and only recognised program teaching the five pre-cry sounds or ‘words’ that newborns make to indicate their need for food, sleep, burping, etc. Here Sonja talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind Dunstan Baby Australia, her biggest breakthrough, and her hopes and dreams for the future.

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?

I remember being a young mum, with three babies in quick succession. So many times I wished I knew what my newborn’s cries meant. I would cycle through the list – were they hungry, tired, uncomfortable? It was sometimes so hard to know and it caused much angst, and, lost time guessing the wrong thing!

When I heard about the Dunstan Baby Language on Oprah, I was astounded. I imagined how life changing it would’ve been for me as a young mum, and how much calmer families could be if they could understand the meaning of their baby’s cries. It inspired me to become a certified trainer in the method and since 2010 I’ve successfully taught numerous families in Australia, achieving a 100% success rate in their capacity to understand infants’ needs and knowing how to respond.

The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?

My background as a teacher, particularly with younger students, sparked my desire to help first-time parents understand child development, early literacy, and interactive play. Transitioning to a Parenting Consultant role within the Department of Education allowed me to educate parents directly in their homes, which I found more fulfilling than classroom teaching. This training was enhanced by incorporating the Dunstan Baby Language, allowing me to impart additional skills to parents. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness the change in mothers, fathers, and babies after implementing the program.

Becoming an International Trainer for the “Parents as Teachers” program was a significant milestone, enabling me to train professionals to support parents effectively, through understanding the stages of child development.

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?

Diversifying the way I deliver the courses… Originally it was taught to a family in their home. Now I also present classes for a group of parents in a meeting place, and I present online, live. Whilst I love the face-to-face sessions, many of my clients say they love the online classes because they don’t have to get organised with a baby to go out. All classes are interactive. We learn about the 5 sounds, listen to them, practise making the sounds, and then learn about the solutions, e.g. different ways to burp a baby.

And my unique way of delivering the course makes a big difference to the parents’ understanding using visuals, descriptions, audio of the babies’ cries and using props. I also offer parents online support for a month after the course, to confer with me should any questions arise – which gives the parents peace of mind. Most parents are able to hear and recognise the 5 sounds which their infant makes, within a week – and they also say that when they are out and about, they recognise the sounds in other newborns too! Once you know the 5 key sounds/cries, parents often say, “How did I not notice how different these sounds are before?” (They initially seemed to all sound the same).

Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?

Family is everything to me, so I have built my business to be mobile. I can deliver the training, and support parents and educators, from anywhere. I’m incredibly grateful this provides me with the flexibility to spend time supporting my children and grandchildren interstate, and work on the business around the morning crazies and bedtime stories! 

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