In those early, often overwhelming days of parenting, we often think I wish they could just tell me what they need as the baby is crying again. But, in their own way, they are: Babies actually cry in different ways to express different needs. Chances are good you'll be able to learn what each cry means, but in the meantime, though, a new app developed by UCLA researchers promises to help decode baby cries.

ChatterBaby was created at the UCLA Code for the Mission with the intention of alerting deaf or hearing-impaired parents to their infant's vocalizations. The app also characterizes the cries or babble into different "states," such as hungry, fussy, in pain, happy or neutral—all by using acoustic features and an original algorithm.


"Research has consistently shown the vocalizations made by a baby can promote bonding, decrease parental stress levels, and allow communication of baby needs such as pain or hunger," the researchers say. "Far from a random biophysical phenomenon, the cries of infants show remarkable predictability."

For example, the algorithm knows that babies in pain cry more energetically and with fewer breaks versus babies who are fussing. Using this kind of data, they say they are correctly able to label pain cries 90% of the time. They also believe that rate will improve as more parents "donate" audio of their babies' vocalizations to the study, which is currently awaiting academic review.

This is a game-changer for parents with hearing impairments by giving them more confidence in meeting their baby's needs. But the researchers say they've also learned how helpful it can be to all parents, especially as they work to add more data that can predict cries from colic, gas, fear, exhaustion, boredom and even dirty diapers. (In the meantime, a simple check can help with the last one.)

We already know that the sound of a crying baby has a unique effect on mamas' brains, which are tuned to respond urgently and sensitively. Still, it certainly doesn't hurt to have a technological side-kick—especially if that means being able to help baby more efficiently.

The app is currently available for free through Google Play and the Apple App Store.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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