Have you heard of the old wives’ tale that hiccups mean you are growing?
Although there is no medical evidence to back up the connection between hiccupping 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 bub to hiccup and is there anything you can do about it to help her?
What causes newborns to hiccup?
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 chords with each spasm.
There are several different reasons that your newborn baby has the hiccups, such as:
Babies usually swallow some air while nursing or drinking from bottle, which can cause hiccups.
If your little one is upset due to hunger or sleepiness, she might start to fuss and cry, thus swallow more air.
Babies have tiny tummies and torsos, so if your bub is overfed, her full tummy might distend too fast or also push up into the diaphragm, causing hiccups to occur.
We doubt your bub will be tucking in to any curries or tom yum soup any time soon — but if you are breastfeeding and consumed any spicy food, it could be passed to your baby through your breast milk and may cause her to hiccup.
How to stop your baby’s 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, there are some remedies that may work for adults but are not suitable for your little one at all.
- 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
- Let your bub suck on a pacifier which could also achieve the same positive results
- Hold your newborn and rock her in your arms to soothe her
- Give her a gentle back rub to try and stop the hiccups
- Burp your baby to help get air out of her stomach
- Feed your little one when she is relaxed and don’t wait too long between feeds so she won’t get too upset
- 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 can be harmful for babies under six months old
- Do not cover your baby’s nose and mouth by making her breathe into a paper bag as she could suffocate
- Refrain from giving your bub 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 hic-ing little one as you both wait out this uncomfortable (but relatively harmless) episode of the hiccups.
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:
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.
Did your newborn have hiccups? Have you heard of any strange methods or old wives tales to stop hiccups? Tell us by leaving a comment below!