A contraction of the diaphragm and the quick closing of your vocal cords cause hiccups. The rapid closing of the vocal cords is what creates the sound of hiccups.
Since hiccups tend to bother adults many people assume they bother babies as well. However, babies are usually not affected by them. Many babies can sleep through a bout of hiccups without being disturbed. Hiccups very rarely interfere with or have any effect on your baby’s breathing.
Hiccups are caused by the diaphragm muscle being either irritated or stimulated. This happens most often from feeding. Other times, hiccups just happen.
There is not always an obvious cause to hiccups in infants. One researcher proposes that hiccups in infants may also serve as an aid to burping.
Hiccups are common in infants and they typically don’t bother the baby. Short-term hiccups in newborns or adults will usually go away on their own. However, there are some at-home treatments that may help ease your baby’s hiccups.
Taking a break from a feeding to burp your baby may help get rid of the hiccups. Burping can get rid of excess gas that may be causing the hiccups. This will also help because it will move your baby into an upright position. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests burping your bottle-fed baby after every 2 to 3 ounces.
- Rub or gently pat your baby’s back when they have hiccups. Do not slap or hit this area roughly or with too much force.
Infant hiccups don’t always start from a feeding. When your baby starts to hiccup on their own, try allowing them to suck on a pacifier. This will help relax the diaphragm and may help stop the bout of hiccups.
More often than not, your baby’s hiccups will stop on their own. If they aren’t bothering your baby, then you can just let them run their course.
If you don’t interfere and your baby’s hiccups do not stop on their own, let your baby’s doctor know. While rare, it is possible that hiccups are a sign of a more serious medical issue.
If your baby seems to be in discomfort because of their hiccups, then you may want to try feeding your baby gripe water. Gripe water is a combination of herbs and water that is believed by some to help with colic and other intestinal discomforts.
The types of herbs can vary. These may include ginger, fennel, chamomile, and cinnamon. Though gripe water has not been shown to help with hiccups in babies, it is a fairly low-risk product.
Before you give your baby anything new, it’s always recommended that you discuss it with your baby’s doctor.
- Check the ingredients list before giving store-bought gripe water to your baby.
Hiccups are considered normal for an infant who is younger than 12 months old. They can also occur while the baby is still in the womb.
However, if your baby gets hiccups a lot, particularly if your baby is also upset or agitated when hiccupping, it is a good idea to talk to your baby’s doctor. This could be a sign of other medical issues.
If your baby’s hiccups are disturbing their sleep, talk to your doctor. Also, talk to your doctor if bouts of hiccups continue to happen often after your child’s first birthday.
It is important to note that doctors advise that you not try many of the stereotypical cures for hiccups when your baby gets them. Things like startling your baby or pulling their tongues should be avoided. These do not usually work for infants, and may do more harm than good.
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There are a few ways to help prevent some hiccup episodes. However, it is difficult to prevent your baby’s hiccups completely as the causes are not always clear. Some ways to try to prevent hiccups are:
- Make sure your baby is calm when you feed them. This means not waiting until your baby is so hungry that they are upset and crying before their feeding begins.
- After a feeding, avoid heavy activity with your baby, such as bouncing up and down or high-energy play.
- Keep your baby in an upright position for 20 to 30 minutes after each meal.
The exact cause of all hiccups in infants is not always evident. However, as long as your baby is not vomiting with their hiccups, does not seem bothered by them, and is under the age of 1 year old, this can be a normal part of development.
The hiccups should go away by the time your baby reaches their first birthday. However, if they continue after that time or, if you baby seems upset by them or cranky, talk to your doctor. They will be able to rule out any other possible causes.