New parents can often become easily distressed by even the most normal occurrences – like infant hiccups!
And while most people are perfectly aware that hiccups are normal and common, sometimes parents just need a little reassurance.
If you’ve noticed frequent hiccups with your baby and are wondering what to do about it, keep reading. Here are some things you need to know about why this happens, what it actually means and why you should relax about it.
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Why Do Infants Get Hiccups?
It is important to note that hiccups are almost never a sign of a severe underlying medical condition. However, just to be on the safe side and to make sure we have covered all aspects, we included a section about when and why to talk to your doctor about them.
An interesting thing about infant hiccups is that, although you are just seeing this, your newborn baby has done it before.
Remember those little jolts you felt when you were pregnant? Well, that was your baby hiccupping in the womb.
Most people imagine that it has something to do with getting air down your throat, right? But there is no air in the womb. So what is happening down there?
Hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm, the muscle that runs along the bottom of the rib cage and that moves up and down as we breathe. These spasms are triggered by many factors. How we react to them depends on each individual. Some people rarely hiccup, while others experience it quite often. So why do infants get hiccups? Because the muscle is still weak and under-developed. This means that is can also be easily triggered.
Therefore, while Baby is in the womb, if she starts “practicing” her newly acquired sucking skill, amniotic fluid gets in and triggers her hiccups. And when it comes to newborn hiccups, it’s usually air that causes it.
Infant Hiccups after Feeding
If this happens a lot just when Baby has finished eating, you are probably wondering whether anything is wrong with her digestive system, right? Rest assured. There are a lot of reasons for why your newborn hiccups after breastfeeding. Once again, Baby sucks in a lot of air. This can occur if you waited too long between feedings, Baby is cranky and fussy, and she is eating nervously. You can imagine a lot of air goes down with that milk too, making digestion a bit difficult.
Hiccup Triggers for Babies
If you are the type of parents who like to prevent instead of wonder how to treat, we have made a list with potential hiccup triggers.
- Belly distension
- Waiting too long between feedings and baby is not calm while doing this. Instead, she is gulping down the milk, along with a lot of air.
- Bouncing baby up and down immediately after feeding.
- Letting baby lie on her back immediately after feeding.
- A sudden change in temperature – the baby is cold and may be shivering. This motion is causing the hiccups.
Parents are mainly concerned about a hiccup episode disrupting Baby’s nap or feeding. Babies can often sleep through a hiccup session without any problems. However, they may not continue eating through a hiccup session. If you are a mommy who is having a bit of difficulty getting baby to latch on and eat, we understand how this can be stressful. But if there is any consolation, know that most babies get the hiccups after feeding. So keep calm and keep being the cool and amazing mommy you are.
How to Get Rid of Infant Hiccups?
Let’s get down to business and tell you how to get rid of infant hiccups. Specifically, here’s what you should do about them:
Have we surprised you here? We don’t think so. Because deep down inside you know that hiccups are normal. Try not to stress and pay attention to how sweet and adorable your little one is while she hiccups!
Try Changing Your Feeding Habits
This is especially useful if your newborn often hiccups after feeding.
- Try nursing Baby more often and with smaller amounts of milk. This way, she will be less hungry and less prone to gulp down.
- Try burping her in the middle of the feeding session. Rub her back gently and avoid slapping or patting hard.
- Nurse Baby in a more upright position so that her diaphragm can have a natural and unhindered movement.
- Make sure Baby has latched on correctly. The gurgling sounds that you hear Baby making while feeding are an indication of swallowing air along with milk.
Give Baby a Pacifier, a Rattle or a Chew-Toy
Try this if you think Baby is getting a bit anxious because of all the jolts from the hiccups. Sucking on something,
playing, and simply getting distracted while the hiccup session passes can help an anxious baby.
Alternative Remedies for Hiccups
If hiccups are frequent and you feel the need to do something about it, here are some alternative remedies that could work.
Some people swear by this, but always check with your pediatrician first. Gripe water is an over-the-counter remedy in the form of a liquid supplement. It is made with sodium bicarbonate, ginger, chamomile, cardamom, licorice, fennel, dill, lemon, peppermint and any other ingredient said to play any part in relieving pain caused by improper digestion. It is usually administered by parents to babies to soothe colic, teething pain, flatulence, and, of course, hiccups.
If you decide on trying gripe water, make sure to read the ingredients thoroughly. Although we mentioned which herbs are used to make gripe water, their recipes might vary. Also, avoid the ones with vegetable charcoal, as it may cause constipation, and make sure it is alcohol- and sucrose-free, and 100% natural without additives or replacements to the real ingredients.
Infant massage is great for so many reasons. To help with hiccups, lay Baby on her belly in a comfortable position and smoothly rub her back. This will help the muscles relax and the diaphragm get back to its natural position.
A Little Sugar on the Pacifier or on the Tip of Your Finger
This used to be an old wive’s tale, but doctors are recommending it now. Dip the pacifier or the tip of your finger in a little granulated sugar and let baby suck on that. As baby will make an effort to swallow the sugar, the diaphragm will be forced into its normal position.
Best avoid these practices, no matter how common they are among grown children or adults.
- Do not startle Baby. You will end up with a screeching, hiccupping baby.
- Do not press on Baby’s eyeballs. There is no such thing as controlled pressure when you are deliberately pressing on the eyes. Apart from causing discomfort, it is also useless once you understand how hiccupping works.
- Never, ever press on baby’s fontanel.
- Do not pull on baby’s tongue.
When Should You Talk to Your Doctor About It?
As promised, we did put down the only reason why you should contact your doctor about newborn hiccups. Should you notice that these hiccups are distressing, recurrent no matter what you do, and they tend to last suspiciously long, contact your doctor. It could be a case of gastro-esophageal reflux (GER). However, note that this rarely happens, and when it does it is not severe or intense, and it can be treated. So there is no reason to panic.
There you have it. Hiccups are no risk for Baby and they are a natural part of the process of growing up. Therefore, wait for them to pass and see just how cute you can find infant hiccups when you are calm and relaxed about it.
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