How to Get Rid Of Baby Hiccups

What to Do When Hiccups Take Over Your Baby

Think back to the last time you had hiccups. That annoying sensation can be painful. It seems to shake your entire body without stopping, despite your attempts at holding your breath while drinking water from the wrong side of the cup. So when your baby begins to hiccup, it's natural to want to stop them, even if they are cute. In most cases, baby hiccups are harmless and don't affect your little one at all, but knowing a few techniques to try to stop them may help you feel better.

What Causes Baby Hiccups?

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Hiccups at any age occur because of a contraction in the diaphragm, which causes the vocal cords to close quickly, but why does it happen in babies? Swallowing lots of air while eating is a common cause. Another potential cause is overfeeding your little one. When the stomach distends too quickly, it can spark the spasms since the diaphragm is physically close to the stomach.

Some babies have frequent hiccups because of gastroesophageal reflux. It's a common condition in babies that causes the contents of your baby's stomach to come back up. Spitting up, colic-type behavior and abdominal pain are other symptoms. If you think your baby's hiccups may be caused by reflux, check with your pediatrician.

Hiccups Through the Ages

Hiccups can happen at any age. Your baby can even experience the diaphragm spasms in the womb. The phenomenon is considered common and normal in babies under 12 months, most often because of excessive air intake while eating.

Toddlers are also likely to get the occasional bout of hiccups. They may swallow air while eating if they're excited or eat too quickly. They also may swallow air during active play.

How to Stop Hiccups

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Whatever the cause of hiccups, it's a parent's natural instinct to want to make them stop. However, hiccups are generally painless and don't bother babies; in fact, some babies sleep right through them. However, if it makes you feel better to try to stop your baby's hiccups, try these methods:

  • Change your feeding position.
  • Take a break from feeding until the hiccups stop.
  • Burp your baby to clear out the gas in your baby's tummy. The upright position also can help hiccups stop.
  • Try a pacifier if your baby gets hiccups when not eating. The sucking action can help relax the diaphragm enough to make  hiccups stop.

If the hiccups don't bother your baby, you can simply wait for them to stop without any intervention. They may seem bothersome, but your little one likely doesn't mind.

How to Prevent Hiccups

Instead of waiting for hiccups to happen, do what you can to prevent them. Try these hiccup prevention tips:

  • Start feeding sessions before your little one gets overly hungry and upset. Feeding your baby while calm can prevent the spasms in the diaphragm. A ravenous baby is likely to eat quickly, which increases the chance of also swallowing air or filling up the tummy too quickly.
  • Check your baby's latch when breastfeeding. If your baby takes in just the nipple or doesn't seal her lips around the areola, she may swallow extra air, which can lead to hiccups.
  • When bottle feeding, hold your baby in an upright position with the bottle tilted at an angle to prevent your little one from swallowing air.
  • Stop halfway through each feeding to burp your baby. Slowing the feeding process can stop the overfilled tummy that triggers diaphragm spasms.
  • Keep your baby in an upright position without bouncing or other active play for about 30 minutes after a feeding session.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Hiccups in babies under 12 months are usually normal and not cause for alarm. Some hiccup situations can indicate that something else is happening. Check with your child's doctor if you notice the following issues:

  • Excessive hiccuping
  • Hiccups that interrupt your little one's sleep
  • Agitation while hiccuping
  • Excessive hiccuping lasting past 12 months
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