Scientists in Japan have identified a number of different sounds that babies make if they are hungry, sad or in pain.
One day they think they will be able to produce hand-held baby monitors which can tell parents what their baby is crying about.
The researchers have recorded the sounds of babies crying along with their emotional state, which they say will lead to a simple formula to work out what a baby wants.
The scientists say they have already successfully worked out the difference between cries of pain and other types of cry.
Er. I think most mothers could probably tell if their own baby was in pain. Couldn't they? Newborns do have different types of crying and mums become attuned to them fairly quickly.
Still, why rely on instinct honed over millions of years of evolution, when you can get a gadget to do your job for you?
Prof Tomomasa Nagashima, from Muroran Institute of Technology, in Hokkaido, told the Telegraph: "Baby monitors of the future could translate infant cries, so that parents will know for certain whether their child is sleepy, hungry, needing a change, or in pain."
He added: "As any new parent knows, babies have a very loud method of revealing their emotional state - crying.
"Unfortunately, the parenting handbook does not offer guidance on how to determine what the crying means."
However, Prof Nagashima says the research so far has been limited. "Various researchers have tried to classify infant emotions based on an analysis of the crying pattern but with little success so far," he told the Telegraph.
"Our team used a sound pattern recognition approach that uses a statistical analysis of the frequency of cries ... to classify different types of crying.
"We were then able to correlate the different recorded audio ... with a baby's emotional state as confirmed by the child's parents."
So, the parents in the study already knew what was the matter with their babies. Without a gadget to tell them. I wonder how?
Do you really need a baby monitor to tell you what's wrong with your infant?
Source: Daily Telegraph