Newborn Hiccups – Causes & Possible Ways to Prevent

Hiccups can be a frustrating thing. After all, there are no real cures. The only thing that is perhaps more frustrating than having them ourselves is to help a child rid themselves of their hiccups. Fortunately, it can be done.

As any parent knows, babies make all sorts of adorable little sounds. From soft and subtle coos to tiny yawns, and even belches, these are all the sounds of normal development. When it comes to things like hiccups, however, you often have to wonder if it’s normal, and if it is, how to get rid of them.

The good news in this is that in most cases, hiccups do not indicate a problem. In fact, hiccups in a baby are caused by the very same thing that causes them in children as well as adults. A hiccup is only a spasm in the baby’s diaphragm—the muscle running across the bottom of their rib cage—that moves up and down as we breathe. The cause of hiccups isn’t known—and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for them—but they are triggered by a number of things. The sound that a hiccup creates is actually air that passes when the vocal cords are snapped by the diaphragm spasm.

Causes of Baby Hiccups:

Newborn babies often get the hiccups when they are overfed or eat too quickly. They can also be cause when the baby gets a lot of air in their stomach. This is why newborns often get hiccups during or after feedings. Hiccups in infants and newborns can also be caused by sudden changes in the temperature in the stomach. For example, if you give your baby some cold milk, then a few minutes later give them hot cereal, chances are good that they will get the hiccups.

Another cause of hiccups in newborns that is not related to feeding is something called gastroesophageal reflux, or GER, which might sound serious, but most often it is not. GER is caused when partially digested food and acidic juices flow from the stomach back into the esophagus, which causes burning and discomfort. This can lead to hiccups.

Just because a child has hiccups does not mean they have GER, but it is a consideration. Regardless, it is easily treated.

Some parents become alarmed when their baby begins to hiccup several times a day. Again, this is not something to become alarmed at. For most children, hiccups will last up to 10 minutes, but rarely longer. Regardless, if a baby seems happy and otherwise unperturbed, don’t worry. The hiccups will go away on their own.

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How to Help Get Rid of Baby Hiccups:

Admittedly, even if hiccups aren’t troublesome or dangerous, they can be annoying. If you want to give your child some relief from hiccups, here are a few ways to help cure them.

Burp. That’s right. Just burp them. This is especially true if they are hiccupping after a large feeding. In these cases, their belly is usually distended, which can cause hiccups. In these cases, it’s a good idea to just try to get them to burp. If burping them does not solve the problem, try smaller, more frequent feedings, as well as more frequent burping.

Trying different ways of burping your baby can also help. Here are a few suggestions for burping.

  • Upright: This is the method most parents use to burp their babies. Hold your baby to your chest with his head leaning on its side on your shoulder. Hold your arm under his bottom and use your other hand to support his lower back and gently pat his back.
  • On your lap: This method is especially useful if you have a large pillow that you can support you baby on while you support your child. Put the pillow across your lap, with one end resting on one thigh while the other is resting on the other thigh. Now place your child on the pillow, face down, with his head turned sideways allowing him to breathe. This position utilizes his body weight to put pressure on his stomach, which forces the gas out. You can also help by rubbing his back gently while he relaxes.
  • Seated: If you are seated, you can keep your baby upright (leaning slightly forward). Support his chest, along with his head and neck, with your hand, gently patting his back. Make sure you are not applying too much pressure to his neck.

What Not to Do for Baby Hiccups:

  • Never scare a baby to combat hiccups.
  • Don’t put a wet wash cloth on their forehead.
  • Never attempt to get a baby to hold their breath. This is just plain dangerous.

Unless there is an extenuating circumstance involved, hiccups will go away on their own. If for whatever reason you are still concerned, contact a doctor.

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