Do Babies Fake Cry?

Babies can be evil little creatures: they can even fake cry

Bridget Coila

We’ve covered the fact that babies can be evil little creatures, and here’s one more reason: they can fake cry when they want something. Or at least that’s what one researcher suggests.

According to researcher Hiroko Hakayama—who filmed babies in their homes for an hour each day, twice a month for six months—some babies do, in fact, “fake” cry to get attention. Over the course of the videos, the vast majority of the babies' cries were real. Hakayama determined that by looking at what happened just before and just after the crying episode. When the baby “displayed negative affect almost always just before starting to cry and soon after crying terminated,” Hakayama concluded that it was a real cry. But when the baby followed up crying immediately with a positive signal, like laughing or smiling, Hakayama concluded that they were faking the cry to get attention. 

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Christian Jarrett at Research Digest explains:

People might have a negative impression of "fake crying" said Nakayama, but they shouldn't do. It attracts the attention of the care-giver, and "such individual interaction contributes greatly not only to an infant's social development but also to their emotional development. Infants who are capable of fake crying might communicate successfully with their caregivers in this way on a daily basis. Fake crying could add much to their relationships."

Hakayama’s study only looked at two babies, and only one of them seemed to exhibit what looked like fake crying, so it’s hard to say whether your little one is pulling your leg or not. But it’s certainly possible.

Get the latest stories in your inbox every weekday.