Baby Fake Cough: Why Does It Happen?


Parents panic at every possible sign of an illness. When it comes to babies, though, not all the “symptoms” are severe. For example, do you know children are prone to acne-like cysts during the first few weeks of birth? They happen because of the hormones they got from their moms while they’re still in the tummy.


Babies can also grunt when they’re nursing. It occurs when there’s a fast letdown – something that moms can prevent quickly.

The Reasons​

One of the things babies do that often raises alarms among parents is a fake cough. Why do babies do that? There are a couple of reasons:

1. Attention

Virtually everybody believes babies are angels. Well, they do have the ability to “cry wolf” at least in a cute way. A good example is a baby fake cough.

A fake cough sounds very much like hacking with no phlegm, so it’s more than enough to increase a parent’s concern. But it’s also normal, especially among children as early as six months old. How does this happen?

Simple: Attention.

It’s wrong to say babies learn to communicate only later. As soon as they’re born, they’re already doing that. However, they are not just saying their needs in words. As they grow up, they can pick some cues from their environment and observe people’s reactions. They can then use these to grab your attention.

Babies fake their way to coughing so you will notice them. It could be because they love to feel your touch again. They may want you to pick them up from their crib or to play with them. Sometimes it means nothing at all. They just like you to come near them and enjoy their mischievousness.

2. Saliva


Before babies reach two months old, their salivary glands will begin to get active. It means they will be producing saliva. And because they don’t have the ability to control their production, they may start to drool or even play with it, making bubbles. In particular cases, they create this fake cough as a way of figuring out on what to do with it.

3. Sound Play

Babies can already hear even before they are born. In fact, by the time moms are in their twenty-fifth to the twenty-sixth week of gestation, their unborn can already react to the noises and sounds. That’s why experts suggest playing music or talking to them around this time.

​When they’re born, perhaps you’ll find babies looking at certain directions. They usually cannot see properly until their third month, but they can already “follow” sounds. Now they’ve grown bigger and are more capable of observing their environment, it’s time to experiment other sounds including a fake cough.

Is It Time to Stop?

​Babies can outgrow a lot of things, and that includes fake coughing. But if they continue to do that even when they’re almost two years old, it’s time to take action. This is because the children may do that not only in private but also in public. They may fake a cough not only to you but also to others for their needs.

​As a parent, you need to let your child understand that now he or she is forming his or her language, there are more effective ways of expressing his or her needs. It’s also a suitable time to impose discipline. Tell the child gently but firmly why fake coughing is a bad habit now he or she is older.

​On the other hand, other members of the household may laugh and react to fake coughing. In turn, it encourages the child to continue the habit. To avoid this problem, you should also inform the others not to tolerate it.

​A Fake Cough – Not!

​Fake coughs are cute – until they are not. The problem is, many parents will get used to this habit they can no longer tell the difference between a real and a fake cough.

​How do you know it’s a real cough? There are many signs:

​1. The baby has a higher-than-normal temperature

​According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should have a body temperature from 97 to 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower or higher than that may mean there’s an underlying condition. If it is 100.4 degrees, the baby may already have a fever.

​2. The child is in distress

​It means the baby is not only coughing but also suffering from a running nose. He or she may be crying profusely, which doesn’t stop even if he or she is already fed or cleaned.

​3. There are signs of respiratory illness.

​The baby may be having difficulty breathing. It may look like he or she is gasping for air. The child’s heart rate may also be irregular or fast. Your baby may also be turning blue or pale.

​4. You notice changes in patterns.

​If your child is having problems sleeping, pooping, or eating along with fake coughing, you may have to investigate further.


​In all these cases, you need to bring the baby to the doctor as soon as possible. Although babies receive colostrum and other nutrients, their immune system is still weak or immature. Not only is it easy for them to get sick, but they don’t have the capacity to fight the cause. Thus, complications including death can happen.

​A cough can be good or bad, depending on the situation. Either way, enjoy a fake cough but don’t forget to observe his or her demeanor, changes in patterns, and other possible symptoms of illness.

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