Why do newborns hiccup so often? Is it something you should be worried about? Learn more about baby hiccups here.
Have you heard of the old wives’ tale that a newborn hiccup means that baby is growing?
Although there is no medical evidence to back up the connection between hiccuping and growth, hiccups can affect adults, children, as well as babies. It might be cute to hear your tiny newborn’s “hics”, but is it normal for your baby to hiccup, and is there anything you can do about it to help her?
Is it normal for your newborn to hiccup so often? What to do when baby hiccups? Read on to learn more about it.
Cause of Baby Hiccups
Hiccups are actually involuntary spasms of the diaphragm (the muscle at the base of your lungs that helps with breathing) and the audible “hic” sound is due to a fast contraction of the vocal cords with each spasm.
While they may seem bothersome to you, newborn hiccups don’t usually cause your baby any distress. In fact, they’ve been doing it even before they were born, while they were in the womb.
Babies are used to hiccups that they can even sleep through them without being disturbed. Also, hiccups rarely interfere with or have any effect on a baby’s breathing.
According to Dr Jennifer Tiglao, a paediatrician from the Makati Medical Center, baby hiccups are normal and may have something to do with something triggering spasms in the baby’s diaphragm. When it is triggered, the nerves in our diaphragm vibrate and produce an involuntary spasm.
But what causes hiccups in newborns exactly? There are several possible reasons that your newborn baby has the hiccups, such as:
Babies usually swallow some air while nursing or drinking from their bottle, which can cause baby hiccups. If your little one is upset due to hunger or sleepiness, she might start to fuss and cry, thus swallowing more air.
Babies have tiny tummies and torsos, so if your baby is overfed, her full tummy might distend too fast or also push up into the diaphragm, causing baby hiccups to occur.
We doubt your baby will be tucking into any curries or tom yum soup any time soon — but if you are breastfeeding and consuming spicy food, it could be passed on to your baby through your breast milk and may cause her to hiccup.
How to Stop Newborn Baby Hiccups
Hiccups usually go away on their own after a few minutes, but you may have heard of and even tried a few ways to cure your own hiccups. However, always practise caution when looking for ways on how to cure baby hiccups as there are some remedies that may work for adults but are not suitable for your little one at all.
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Offer your baby some milk, either by nursing her or from a bottle — the swallowing action might help her diaphragm to get back in control.
Dr Tiglao agrees with this method of stopping newborn hiccups as well. She advises mothers to breastfeed until their baby forgets about them entirely.
Just remember to feed your little one when she is relaxed and do not wait too long between feeds so she won’t get too upset.
Let your baby suck on a pacifier which could also relax the diaphragm and soothe your little one as well.
Try holding your baby in an upright position and give her a gentle back rub to soothe her and stop the hiccups.
Burp your baby to help get the air out of her stomach
How to stop baby hiccups after feeding? If breastfeeding or sucking on a pacifier doesn’t work, you can take a break and burp your baby in between feedings. This will help release the air bubbles that may be causing the spasms in her diaphragm.
How do you burp a baby with hiccups? According to Dr Gellina Suderio-Maala, a paediatrician and mum, there is no hard and fast rule on burping a baby, but what usually works is when she is put in an upright position, with adequate support from you.
One position that you can do is when you are carrying your baby, her head is resting on your shoulder or chest, then lightly tap on the left side where her stomach is. So that the air bubbles that are in your baby’s tummy can move and be released.
The doctor also recommends waiting for a loud burp before putting the baby back in her crib.
Try tickling your baby’s toes, or making funny faces to distract your baby from the bouts of hiccups that she’s having. If all else fails, at least you’re also distracted from worrying about it, as it will usually just go away on its own.
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Here are some methods that are considered unsafe and should not be attempted when dealing with baby hiccups:
- Do not pinch your baby’s nose to make her hold her breath for a few seconds because this can hurt her and cause suffocation.
- Avoid giving your newborn some water to drink, as this is harmful to babies under 6 months old.
- Never cover your baby’s nose and mouth by making her breathe into a paper bag as she could suffocate.
- Refrain from giving your baby some peppermint, lemon, vinegar, peanut butter or pickle juice as this can give her digestive problems.
- Do not attempt to “scare the hiccups away” by startling or shocking your baby because this will probably upset her further
You will just need to be patient and soothe your baby’s hiccups as you both wait out this uncomfortable (but relatively harmless) episode of the hiccups.
How to Prevent Baby Hiccups
As mentioned, hiccups are involuntary spasms in our diaphragm that we usually have no control over. And while all babies will eventually go through this phase, there are things you can take note of to lessen these hiccup episodes.
First, make sure your baby is calm when you feed them. This means being attuned to hunger cues and not waiting until your baby is so hungry (hint: crying) that they’re upset and fussy before their feeding begins. After feeding or in between feedings, take a quick break and burp your baby while holding her in an upright position.
When she’s done feeding, hold her in the upright position for at least 20 minutes before putting her down in her crib. Just relax with your baby and avoid engaging in heavy activities such as dancing, bouncing up and down, or high-energy play.
Newborn Hiccup – Should You Be Worried
Hiccup episodes usually last for a few minutes, but if your newborn baby is still hiccuping for a few hours, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Although the doctor might rule it as something harmless such as a sore throat or something in the ear that is touching the eardrum, there is a possibility that hiccuping at prolonged stretches at a time could be due to several health issues including:
- Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
- A tumour or cyst in the throat
- Kidney problems
Take note of other changes to her behaviour or pattern, like, during feeding, sleeping habits or increased fussiness — this information will help your doctor to diagnose and treat the problem.
Remember, if your baby has been hiccupping nonstop for a few hours and this happens frequently, it is best to bring her to see a doctor to rule out any underlying problems.
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible to those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.