If you’re the parent of a 5-10 month old baby, have you noticed that your baby is coughing, but they don’t seem to be sick? Does the cough clear your child’s congestion or their throat which is what pediatricians like to call an “effective cough”? I bet you want to know why your baby only coughs when you’re around. I have always said parenting starts at a very young age and this is one of the first signs that your child is learning to “manipulate” you a bit…truth!
This back and forth with you and our baby is called an “attention cough” and occurs when your baby realizes that when they cough you turn your head to look at them. Now, you are probably only turning your head to make sure they are ok, but your baby just sees your face turn to them and that you make good eye contact which is reward enough for a cough! Very clever!
An attention cough is one of the earliest ways that your baby gains your attention. Later on it may be high-pitched squeals, followed by them throwing a toy your way. All of these are just a means of early “nonverbal” attention seeking behavior. Just wait, I promise it will continue and it may not always be quite so cute (think teenage years).
So, if your child gets a little cough, it doesn’t seem like they are sick and you find yourself turning your head, the diagnosis may be “attentional cough”. Save yourself a trip to the doctor and a co-pay as well. The best thing to do is just smile.