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how to get rid of newborn hiccups

3 minutes

17/12/2021

Hiccups are smile-inducing at the best of times, but they’re particularly adorable in newborns. When they keep coming back, however, you might find yourself wondering why they’re happening and whether they’re a normal part of your little one’s development. Here, we’ve put together a helpful guide to answer all your questions about newborn hiccups, from how to get rid of newborn hiccups to what causes hiccups in newborns in the first place.

  1. Why do newborn babies get hiccups?

  2. What causes hiccups in newborn babies?

  3. Should I be worried about my newborn baby’s hiccups?

  4. What should I do when my newborn baby has hiccups?

  5. What stops newborn hiccups?

Why do newborn babies get hiccups?

Newborn hiccups occur when your baby’s diaphragm – the muscle below the lungs that separates the chest from the abdomen and moves up and down as you breathe – unconsciously contracts or spasms. This contraction causes baby’s vocal cords to close briefly, making a tell-tale ‘hic’ sound.

What causes hiccups in newborn babies?

Most newborn babies have hiccups at one point or another, but it’s not always obvious why. Doctors think the way a baby feeds – whether breastfed or bottle fed – can play a part; for example, overfeeding, eating too quickly, or swallowing too much air while eating or drinking. All of these can cause baby’s diaphragm to spasm.

Overexcitement can also cause baby to hiccup, as can a sudden change in air temperature.

Should I be worried about my newborn baby’s hiccups?

Newborn hiccups can last for a few minutes or up to an hour, and in most cases are completely normal and cause no distress whatsoever to baby.

Persistent newborn hiccups, however, especially during or just after feeding, can be a sign of reflux. If this is the case with your little one, the hiccups will be accompanied by other symptoms including:

  • bringing up milk during or just after feeding

  • being sick during or just after feeding

  • crying or coughing during feeding

  • lack of weight gain (as unable to keep food down)

As detailed on the NHS website, reflux occurs because the muscles at the bottom of your little one’s food pipe have yet to completely develop. Reflux is very common and usually clears up on its own – but if you have any concerns at all, chat with your health visitor.

What should I do when my newborn baby has hiccups?

Wondering how to stop newborn hiccups once they’ve started? Usually, they’ll naturally run their course, but if your baby seems distressed or uncomfortable in any way, you could try the following:

  • taking a break from feeding to burp baby

  • changing the position in which you’re feeding

  • rubbing baby’s back or rocking them gently

Two things NOT to try are scaring your little one or making them sip water upside down. These are old wives’ tales for curing hiccups and have no basis in scientific fact.

What stops newborn hiccups?

If you’re wondering how to avoid newborn hiccups altogether, there are a few things you can try:

  • Feeding your baby before they get too hungry, so they’re less likely to gulp down the milk

  • Feeding baby frequently in small amounts, rather than infrequently and all at once

  • If you’re breastfeeding, making sure baby is properly latched, so they’re not swallowing excess air

  • If you’re bottle feeding, making sure there’s no air trapped in the teat before feeding baby

  • Keeping distractions and stimulus to a minimum while feeding – this way baby won’t get overexcited

  • Sitting baby upright for 30 minutes after each feed

As baby gets bigger, you can expect the amount they hiccup to become less frequent.

If you found this guide helpful, you might like to read some of the other features on our Parenting Hub?
For example…

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