How to Calm Your Baby’s Hiccups

January 31, 2019
A baby’s hiccups are a more annoying symptom for the parents than it is for the little one. In spite of this, it is good to know some measures both to prevent and to treat them.

When a baby has hiccups, it can be a bit worrisome for parents, especially when they happen recurrently. However, contrary to what many think, that delicate “hip” “hip” isn’t anything serious, nor is it annoying for your little one.

Most newborns eventually experience it, but it is harmless and does not require specific treatment. In fact, just as it occurs suddenly, the symptom usually disappears by itself in a short time.

For some parents, it’s exasperating that this bothers their child again and again. Although it’s true that it isn’t serious, they almost always look for a solution so that it will not persist.

Luckily, various tips have been shared over the years for calming them in a matter of minutes.

What are Hiccups?

Hiccups, also known as syngultus, are a symptom that is produced when the diaphragm repetitively, involuntarily and brusquely contracts. The diaphragm separates the lungs from the abdomen and plays a major role in breathing.

hiccups in babies

When we hiccup, instead of inhaling air, we exhale it. In addition, our vocal cords are also closed and, hence, the characteristic sound, “hip,” happens.

Usually, the hiccups disappear quickly. They’re not dangerous, and the baby regains its normal breathing.

Why do Babies get Hiccups?

It has not yet been determined precisely what causes babies to get hiccups. However, several theories have been proposed for some years. The most accepted ones suggest that a newborn’s nervous and digestive systems is immature.

You might be interested in reading: Are Children Really The Reflection of Their Parents?

Immaturity of the Nervous System

The nervous system is the one that controls all of the body’s muscles. When an irritation of the phrenic nerve and vagus nerve occurs, it triggers involuntary movements in the diaphragm.

How does this affect the baby?

Everything indicates that this system being immature affects the occurrence of hiccups in a baby. In this sense, premature babies, whose organs are more immature, get hiccups more than a normal baby. In addition, the symptom recurs more often before they are six months old.

Immaturity of the Digestive System

baby eating without hiccups

Babies have an “immature” digestive system and are more susceptible to having symptoms and discomfort as a result of this. Since digestive disorders often overstimulate the diaphragm, other reasons to explain hiccups include:

  • The stomach being stretched by air entering it when your baby is sucking milk.
  • A baby’s difficulties with latching onto the nipple, which causes air to enter.
  • Using pacifiers with an inappropriate shape for the baby’s physiology.
  • Bottle nipples with very large or very small holes.
  • Inappropriate body posture when the baby is eating.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux.
  • Anxiety or emotional stress.
  • Changes in gastric and body temperature.
  • Laying your baby down “early” without making sure s/he has burped at least once.
  • Introducing inappropriate foods into the baby’s diet.

How Do You Calm a Baby’s Hiccups?

Hiccups usually only last for a few minutes in babies. Therefore, it’s not usually necessary make a great effort to try to fight them.

However, considering that it distresses some parents, it is helpful to know some techniques to make them go away faster.

treating hiccups in babies

Now, these tricks are not a “miraculous” formula to get rid of hiccups instantly. In fact, they do not work in all cases. However, they are worth a try.

Below, we will show you the most common:

  • The way breastfeeding works has a lot to do with the appearance of hiccups in newborns. Because of that, it’s important for the mother to feed the baby when s/he is calm and before he is very hungry. That way, your baby will eat more slowly and will not swallow so much air.
  • If the baby gets hiccups when s/he eats, the first step will be to change position and try to get him/her to burp and relax.The best thing is to wait until the hiccups go away before returning to breastfeeding.
  • When the baby eats too fast, it’s best to stop and restart after a few minutes. The goal is to keep your baby from swallowing air while eating.
  • Once s/he is finished eating, it’s advisable to hold your baby in a vertical position to help get rid of extra air.
  • Considering that changes in temperature can also cause hiccups, it’s important to keep your baby warm and to change to a less drafty environment.

Also read: How is Breast Milk Produced?

Hiccups are a natural phenomenon that does not cause your baby pain. You should only consult your pediatrician when they are accompanied by intense crying or if they last for many hours.

  • Magdalena, C., Luigi, A., & Jorge, G.-H. (2010). Hipo o Singulto: Fisiopatología y enfrentamiento del paciente Hiccups or Syngultus: Pathophysiology and aproach to the patient. Revista Memoriza.Com.
  • Mowar, A. B., Yadav, N., Gupta, S., Nigam, P., & Kumar, N. (2014). Hiccups. Journal, Indian Academy of Clinical Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444327311.ch27
  • Full-Young C, Ching-Liang L. Hiccup: Mystery, Nature and Treatment. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2012; 18: 123-30.
  • Brouillette, R. T., Thach, B. T., Abu-Osba, Y. K., & Wilson, S. L. (1980). Hiccups in infants: Characteristics and effects on ventilation. The Journal of Pediatrics. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3476(80)80806-7