23 answers

"Fake" Cough??

This is probably the dumbest question ever, but I don't know who else to ask!! Can a 5 month old "fake" a cough for attention?? My 5 month old daughter has started making these tiny little coughs and they sound so fake to me, almost like she's trying to see how quiet she can do it... Or to see how quick I come running to check on her. I know she isn't sick, this is something very different from her sick coughs. And I'm not one of those parents that freak out over every little thing so it's not like I actually DO run to her, but the idea of a 5 month old faking something just seems so far fetched to me!! Has anyone else had this problem? I feel like she is becoming such a little operator!!

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Thanks so much for all the info!! My daughter DOES have pretty severe reflux but this has just started and it's all the time, not just when she is laying down!! I took the advice of one poster and coughed back at her and she laughed like it was the funniest thing ever!! I guess it's just her way of letting me know she is here!!

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My daughter had a "fake" cough too at that age. She was just learning to make noises and mimick people. Also I know other babies who have done the same thing. Its kinda cute.

My daughter did the same thing and still does occasionally (she is now 11 months). I think it is something they learn and are fasinated by or maybe they are just reacting to extra saliva (like if they are teething). I really wouldn't worry about it...but it doesn't sound like you are.

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My daughter did that, too.

I wouldn't consider this being a "problem." Or that she is being a "little operator." Five months old have no concept of manipulation or how to do that. She is exploring her vocal capacities. Babies love to mimic and if you make the same sound to her, she'll probably do it back to you. They constantly are exploring and developing at 5 mths old, so she's going to be coming up with new things to do and new noises to make. My son likes to grunt and he gets a kick out of me grunting back at him.

My daughter had a "fake" cough too at that age. She was just learning to make noises and mimick people. Also I know other babies who have done the same thing. Its kinda cute.

I am a photographer. It is possible that your little one is making fake coughs. I have seen it plenty of times. Sometimes when you do it with them, it makes them smile. They think it is funny.

OH YEAH! You just made me flash back to when my 6 & 4 yr olds were babies. Both of my two did this. It is so funny how even babies respond to "trickery" and trying to get that attention. ENJOY it. You are in for a lot more fun "games" like dropping a toy 100 times so that you can pick it up for her, etc. Have fun with it. She is trying to get your attention and be funny. Play it up and you will see how much more of a "ham" she will become.
No need to worry unless you start hearing some conjestion in her chest or something.

once they realize they can make a noise, any noise, it usually will continue until they find another sound they like to make better. my son is 11 months and he still likes to "fake" cough. he's been doing it for months. i dont think it's for attention, it's just something new.

Sounds to me like she is experimenting - with what sounds she can make and how mommy will respond to them. It is a phase that she will get through. It's actually sometimes funny and I would giggle to myself when my son would do it. Just make sure she really isn't sick, but I do think she's just discovering herself and her world :)

Yes, they can fake a cough. :) Both of my children did this. My daughter is 10 months old and still does it. They know it gets your attention. Babies are smarter than they get credit for. That's why a baby cries because they know it will get your attention too. Your little actress is perfectly normal.

could it be that she is clearing her throat with all the pollen and allergy stuff going on right now? i know that my 2 year old and 6 month old are having sinus issues right now and it seems like my 6 month old coughs more than usual. i just thought it was because he doesn't know how to get rid of the drainage.

just a thought.

My daughter did the same thing and still does occasionally (she is now 11 months). I think it is something they learn and are fasinated by or maybe they are just reacting to extra saliva (like if they are teething). I really wouldn't worry about it...but it doesn't sound like you are.

She could be trying to get your attention, it worked for her once it will work for her again. However, another possibility is that she could have reflux. When the acid comes up into their esophagus they cough a bit. If it gets really bad the coughing gets worse and can lead to vomiting. One way to start to figure this out is, if she is doing it only when she is laying flat. If this is the case then see the doctor and lift the head of her bed. Hopefully, she is just looking for some attention and enjoying her new found vocal cords because reflux is still bothering my 3 year old.

I don't believe in babies being manipulative at such a young age. If she needs something, she'll cry. I think she's just learning how to use her diaphragm and voice. If she isn't squealing at the top of her lungs yet, she will be soon.

My 6 month old son does the same thing!!! At first I thought it was just attention seeking, but now I'm not so sure. Could it be because they are teething and have excess saliva that makes them cough?

Yes A., all babies are "operators" lol, and she can be faking it. That doesn't mean she is, but they love to test out new sounds at that age. If you tell her no, does she stop?

Just watch her and make sure there isn't anything in the house that is actually irritating her. God bless!


Yes they can do that. She has probably learned how to do that. My 2yo when she was under a year would do that. She mimicked us when one of us coughed and she continued to try out 'new' things. It was just a new thing that she had learned. I wouldn't worry about it.

Sounds like your litle one has learned a new trick. As long as there is no drainage, no fever and the cough doesn't sound wet Then that's probably all it is. Since she is 5 mos old she should have a dr appt coming up soon. I would mention it there just in case but really wouldn't worry.

She could just be copying something she heard but not doing it for the attention.Babies make all sorts of sounds and she could just be trying the sound out.Like another poster said, if she wanted your attention,she'd just cry.If you know she's not sick then just let her do it.

The kind of cough that you are describing is the very kind that my daughter started at about 2 1/2 (she is now 18). It almost seemed as if she were doing it as a subconcious 'habit'. A trip to the doctor and further exploration revealed that she had asthma. One of the symptoms is a slight cough that young children do as a way to take in more air. I can tell you after the many times that we've spent in the ER, there were many times that we would see other very young babies with the diagnosis. Why so many children have developed asthma in the last 20 years is a mystery, but I would suggest that you have her checked out. Asthma is many times tied to allergies and this is the time when your daughter is being exposed to new foods and environments that could begin to trigger allergy problems which in turn sets off asthma symptoms. I would also specifically ask the pediatrician about the possibility of asthma. Since you are a first time mom, he/she may not 'listen' to you or your baby's symptoms as well as they should. Moms know when something is amiss....trust your judgement. All the best.

Have you noticed any other strange things, excessive spit up that seems to be painful for example? My 3 month old has acid reflux and the fake sounding cough is a side affect of the acid reflux.

I have a 7-month old who is my third child. She started making noises that seemed a bit like coughing (although hers seems like a cross between a cough and a laugh, and I interpret it as a bit of excitement and a "hey look at me" noise), and it was definitely to get my attention. I also witnessed her doing it to other people when they had stopped talking to her and started talking to someone else. Babies are very social, and they do start finding other ways to get attention besides crying, probably starting around 5-6 months. I would not call it "faking" a cough though, as they really don't understand what coughing is so they couldn't purposely "fake" a cough. They're just not able to be manipulative like that, but I would say a cough sound could definitely be a way of saying "hey" to get your attention. Your baby just wants to be with you, not control you.

HI! I am a speech therapist and a mother of 2 under 3. Both of my children did this! Once they get around this age they start experimenting with sounds. They are really picking up on sounds around them and they try to imitate and just "play" with vocalizations. I loved seeing my second one start to do this. Just do it back! She will probably love it and try to imitate!
Hope this helps, C.

I've seen it with my nephew and again with my daughter. I don't know why they do it, but they do. I drove me crazy with my nephew and wasn't sure if something was wrong. I was prepared for my daughter to do it. I doubt it's anything but if she persists or you are worried, I'd call her doctor. I think it's a phase.

My 5 month old does the same thing!! haha! She will sometimes have a very dramatic cough, then look at me. I usually start laughing and make a deal of it, (which I probably shouldn't do). After she sees my reaction, she'll do it again! 5 months old and already a drama queen!!

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