Having a newborn baby is an experience unlike any other, and every little thing can worry a new parent. It’s something that changes your life for the better and you would do anything for them. But seeing them being in discomfort due to an episode of the hiccups can be alarming.
Hiccups are normal and can happen to anyone. Babies are especially prone to them. For adults, it’s not a big issue and we mostly ignore it, but for your baby, it could be startling. Especially if this is happening to your first child and you don’t know what to do. But baby hiccups are completely normal and a parent shouldn’t be alarmed with it.
What causes hiccups in babies
Most parents are concerned when they first see their newborns having hiccups. Primarily, hiccups in babies are due to the contraction of their diaphragm, caused by a reflex action that happens due to excess air in the stomach. A few additional reasons why your baby might be getting hiccups are:
Eating too quickly.
If air is swallowed during feeding.
GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or acid reflux.
Most of these causes for the hiccups are typical and will likely occur at some point. Generally, babies will cry when they first experience hiccups because it is unfamiliar and they are likely scared and unsure of how else to react. Only in the case that the hiccups cause pain or distress in your baby should there be a reason for worry. Otherwise, you should wait out most of the hiccups and let it run its course.
What is happening during hiccups
During breathing, if the air gets stuck in between your closed vocal cords it will lead to hiccups. Many parents will mistake the hiccups for their baby being unable to breathe and needing more air, which is false. The classic “hic” sound is caused when the diaphragm spasms and the vocal cords shut.
How long do hiccups last
The duration of the hiccups could vary amongst babies. On average the hiccups last for 6-7 minutes. But it doesn’t mean that your baby can’t have hiccups for a longer duration. Although, if your baby seems to get too distressed from the hiccups and they occur frequently then you should visit a doctor as it could be a symptom of some underlying health issue. One of the reasons for frequent and continuous hiccups could be GERD. You shouldn't worry too much as it is easily treatable.
Ways to stop or prevent hiccups in babies
Hiccups are completely normal and you can let them run its course, but if the hiccups last for a longer duration then you can try the below methods to stop the hiccups.
Burp your baby
If your baby starts getting hiccups during feeding then you need to take a break and burp your baby as this will reduce the amount of air in their stomach. This should stop a majority of hiccups. It is also a good habit to burp your baby after every feed. Also, you could try changing your position during feeding. Having the baby in an upright position during the burp helps in the reduction of hiccups.
Note: You need to gently rub or pat your babies back. Avoid the use of excessive force during patting.
Let the hiccup run its course
Most of the time the best thing to do is to do nothing and let the hiccup run its course. If it lasts for a longer duration or is causing distress in your baby, then action should be taken. Otherwise, it's best to let your baby hiccup.
Use a pacifier
Pacifiers can be of great help when it comes to stopping your baby’s hiccups as it helps in relaxing the diaphragm which helps prevent further hiccups in your baby. You should use a pacifier if your baby started to experience hiccups while not feeding.
Change feeding habits
You should avoid overfeeding your baby as it may lead to hiccups. You should also avoid feeding them too quickly. If your baby has frequent hiccups then you could try to reduce the amount you feed them and increase the intervals instead. Small feed amounts could help tremendously in preventing hiccups in your baby. You should also make sure that the baby is calm before feeding him and avoid any heavy activity immediately after feeding them.
Change feeding bottles
Many times the bottles are the reason for your baby’s hiccups. Some bottle designs could lead to more air entering your baby’s stomach while feeding. You could try changing the feeding bottle to a different brand.
When you should go to a Doctor
If the hiccups your baby has are making them too uncomfortable or they are too frequent then it is time to visit your doctor. Also many times hiccups lead to your baby vomiting which shouldn’t be ignored and you should get your baby checked up. Many times GERD or acid reflux are the causes for hiccups. GERD causes heartburn in babies. Not all babies require treatment for it but in severe cases, you will need to get it treated.
Hiccups are something that your baby starts having even before his birth. Your baby having hiccups is completely normal and you shouldn’t worry too much about it, all babies get hiccups. You should only worry when the hiccups are too frequent and seem to make your baby uncomfortable or cause distress. You can follow the above-mentioned ways to stop hiccups in your baby. If those fail to help in stopping them, then you should visit a doctor as it could be another health issue in your baby.
Most of the time it will not be clear on what is causing the hiccups in the baby, but following proper feeding practices will most of the time prevent hiccups in your baby. Also, hiccups don’t cause any harm to your babies. A burp will most of the time ease the hiccups that your baby might be having. As your baby gets older the hiccups will become less frequent and a lesser reason for your worries.