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The Baby Fake Cough: Causes and Tips

baby fake cough: causes and tips

Dealing with a baby fake cough can be concerning. However, often it is just a way for your baby to communicate with you.

Babies are wonderous little beings that will grow and develop rapidly. As parents, we want to ensure that they are always safe and healthy. So, when you hear your youngster cough, naturally, you will examine them for any problems. However, the baby fake cough syndrome is quite common and is part of their developmental process.

But how do babies learn this behavior, why do they do it, and how to tell a real cough from a baby fake cough? This informative guide will shed some light on this cute but sometimes worrisome action.

When Do Babies Learn to Fake Cough?

Parents will revel in all the new things their little ones will do as they grow. Each developmental stage will bring with it a whole new experience for them. So, when do babies learn to fake cough?

This action will typically begin around the six-month mark for your youngster. Although your baby may be fake coughing earlier or later than six months, it generally begins when your child is old enough to distinguish that any sound they make will generate a response from you.

The fake cough game has begun if you have ever gone to your baby after hearing them cough, only to see them smiling or laughing at you.

Download the Kinedu app and have a chat with our experts to better understand your baby’s behavior!

Why do Babies Fake Cough?

There can be several reasons why babies fake cough. Some of the motivations include:

  • Learning how to make sounds;
  • Getting attention from you;
  • Playing a game with you;
  • Learning from others.

Learning How to Make Sounds

Babies take in the world around them during developmental stages and love to mimic what they hear and see. Fake coughing is just one of the many ways your little one teaches themselves how to make sounds and explore their capabilities.

Getting Attention from You

Your baby may have noticed that any time someone coughs or sneezes, it brings a reaction from others. They may also recognize that it brings you to their side when they make these noises, giving them additional attention.

Playing a Game with You

Additionally, if you have responded to your youngster by fake coughing back once you realize they are not sick, this is just another form of communication with them. Babies fake coughing will quickly learn that these sounds will get the attention of a parent or caregiver, making it a fun game for many infants.

Learning from Others

Babies who spend time with other children their age may also pick up this fake coughing habit from others. If your little one attends daycare or infant classes where other babies fake cough, this behavior can soon be part of your daily routine also.


Thankfully, this action will be less prevalent as your little one gets older.

How to Differentiate a Real Cough from a Baby Fake Cough

Anytime your baby coughs, it can raise some concerns for parents and caregivers. Attending to a little one who is sick as soon as possible helps them recover and feel better quickly. But how can you distinguish between a natural cough and a baby’s fake cough?

If your infant is sick, they will typically have other symptoms alongside the coughing. Therefore, these additional elements will indicate an actual illness rather than a baby fake coughing.

Some tell-tale signs that your infant is getting sick can include: 

  • A runny nose or nasal congestion;
  • Having teary, runny, and red eyes;
  • Appearing tired, drowsy, or lethargic;
  • Exhibiting a temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • Sleeping disruptions;
  • Being fussy, unsettled, irritable, or upset for no apparent reason;
  • Abnormally runny diapers or digestion issues;
  • Feeding problems;
  • Continuous coughing even after you tend to them;
  • Pale skin color;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Vomiting after coughing.

Your baby may not exhibit all of these symptoms or only show one. However, if you have any concerns about a real illness, you should seek care from your local health care provider as soon as possible.

When is it Time for Babies to Stop Faking Cough?

The baby fake cough does not last forever, thankfully. Generally, the fake coughing will subside once your little one grows and begins to talk and communicate better with you. So you can expect this behavior to diminish closer to 12 months of age.

Your little one will quickly learn as they grow that there are other methods to get your attention besides fake coughing. However, it can be tiring if your baby fake coughs as a game well into their first or second year of life.

If your baby is still exhibiting this behavior as they approach toddlerhood, you can help discourage them from fake coughing by asking them to use their words if they are in the talking stage. Other ways to dissuade your baby’s fake coughing include asking them to show you what they want instead of coughing.

As your infant grows and matures, they will learn that fake coughing is not the best way to get what they want.

The Takeaway

The baby fake cough is no cause for concern. This developmental stage of your baby’s life will pass and is quite normal. However, it is vital that when your little one is coughing, you determine it is not because they are sick or choking on an item.

Do you have any other concerns or questions about your baby’s behavior? Would you like to keep informed about each of your little one’s developmental stages?

By downloading the Kinedu app, you can talk with experts, find classes, and learn more about each phase in your baby’s life. 

In addition, Dr. Julia Harper’s kinedu | masterclass contains a wealth of information for parents and caregivers that make learning about your baby’s development fun and enjoyable. This way, you will be ready for every stage of your little one’s life!

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