How to Cure Your Baby’s Hiccups

  Photo by  Jenna Norman  on  Unsplash
Photo by Jenna Norman  on Unsplash

While cute, Newborn hiccups might be annoying for your little one. Read on to find out why it’s happening and what to do about it. Keep in mind newborn hiccups are more of an annoyance than a medical problem. They’re generally nothing to worry about.

Why do babies get hiccups?

  • Those round-the-clock feedings, marathon nursing sessions, and pacifiers ensure your baby is swallowing a significant amount of air. Taking in too much air during a feeding is the primary cause of most hiccups in newborns.
  • Another common reason babies get hiccups is a full tummy. Since they’re so little, it doesn’t take much to fill (even overfill) a newborn tummy.
  • Less common, but not entirely rare, some babies will hiccup with a change in temperature. You may notice this during winter or summer when baby goes from indoors to outdoors.

What can I do to prevent them?

  • During feedings, whether using bottles or nursing, take a break every ounce or so (or every 5 minutes if you’re breastfeeding) to burp your baby. Taking these short breaks allows baby to release some air before it gets built up enough to create hiccups.
  • Rub or pat your baby’s back after feeds. Do not use too much pressure or force. Sometimes gently rubbing baby’s back in a circular motion will produce a large burp that eliminates hiccups altogether.
  • Make sure you’re using the correct bottle nipple. Bottle nipples need to be changed as baby gets older. If you’re using a newborn nipple with your 6-month-old, he’s probably swallowing a lot more air than necessary. Most bottle brands have nipples that come in different stages for newborns, 3 months and up, 6 months and up, and 9s month and up. Make sure you’re replacing these often to keep up with your baby’s changing needs. At 9 months old your baby can start using a sippy cup in addition to his bottle.
  • Do not try to scare or hit the hiccups out of your baby. Do not grab your baby’s mouth or tongue. These outdated methods won’t work. In fact, they cause more harm than good.

How can I cure baby’s hiccups?

To help baby get more comfortable, there are several possible solutions.

  • If you’re using one, offer baby a pacifier. This technique usually works if Baby’s hiccups come from out of nowhere (not immediately after a feeding). The sucking sensation allows the diaphragm to relax, potentially ending hiccups.
  • Let it go. Left untreated, hiccups typically go away on their own. It’s fine to let hiccups run their course. However, if your baby’s hiccups don’t go away for hours on end, it’s time to discuss underlying medical concerns with your pediatrician.
  • Another alternative remedy you may consider is “gripe water” this holistic “medicine” is available at retailers like Walgreens, Target, and CVS. Give baby a few drops to alleviate hiccups. While there is no scientific data to support gripe water as a cure for hiccups, many parents swear by it–reporting that it helps with everything from colic to constipation. It’s really just a mix of herbs and water, typically containing ginger, chamomile, and/or fennel. Be sure to read the label before giving store-bought Gripe Water to your baby. You want to avoid anything with actual medication or alcohol during this newborn stage. Alternatively, you can also make your own gripe water by boiling four cups of water and putting 1 teaspoon each of ginger, fennel, and chamomile in the pot. Let it cool and give 2-3 drops to your baby at a time.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, simply letting the baby nurse for a minute or two can cure a bout of hiccups instantly.
  • If your baby is noticeably uncomfortable, you may want to keep him upright after feedings. Try not to lay him down for 15-30 minutes after a feed. If you don’t want to hold him upright that long, try babywearing. Do not put your child in a car seat or swing immediately after feeding as this can exacerbate hiccups and reflux problems.

What’s Normal?

Frequent hiccups are common for those under 12 months of age. As long as your baby is happy, eating, and gaining weight appropriately, hiccups do not cause any harm. Like excessive drool or rash-prone skin, frequent hiccups are just part of life with a baby.

Relaxing about these little things is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

When Should I Worry?

  • After 12 Months of Age– Usually, by baby’s first birthday excessive hiccups should be a thing of the past. If your toddler is experiencing chronic, frequent hiccups he may have a digestive issue that needs to be professionally examined by his doctor.
  • Disruption of Sleep– If your baby is unable to sleep, waking frequently, or disturbed by hiccups, you may want to have him examined for underlying medical conditions. Luckily, most babies sleep through hiccups without a fuss.
  • Disruption of Eating and/or Drinking– Likewise, if interference from hiccups is making your baby unable to eat or drink properly, it’s time for a discussion with your pediatrician. This is especially true if your baby is having difficulty gaining weight.
  • Painful Hiccuping– When your hiccups are causing obvious stress to your baby (screaming, crying, back arching, generally inconsolable), you may be dealing with more than hiccups.

If your baby is experiencing any or all of the symptoms above, it’s time to check in with your doctor.

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