C’mon, baby hiccups are pretty cute, right? Hmm…debatable. Unfortunately for parents, it’s not as easy to instruct little ones to drink a glass of water upside down or hold their breath (two so-called hiccuping ‘cures’). Fortunately, though, there are several tricks to prevent hiccups from striking in the first place, and even ways to stop baby hiccuping when an episode does hit.
What causes baby to hiccup?
Hiccups are an enigmatic biological phenomenon – no one’s entirely sure how or why they occur. As we know ourselves, hiccups often strike without warning and can become rather bothersome. Scientists at Queen’s University in Kingston propose they act as a burping function to help babies ingest more milk. Whatever the root cause, experts do know that hiccups are symptomatic of an inflamed diaphragm. This can occur when a baby eats or drinks too fast (much like us), or gets upset. Ever noticed your little one hiccuping after a prolonged bout of crying? When this happens, his diaphragm begins to spasm and vocal chords snap tightly shut, triggering that ‘hic’ sound. Dangerous? No. Annoying? Oh yes.
How can I prevent baby from hiccuping?
One sure-fire way to prevent hiccups from occurring is burping baby more often during feeding. This eliminates the risk of excess air becoming trapped in his tiny belly, thereby reducing any irritation of the diaphragm. While this may extend your little one’s feeding time, it’s a promising way to minimise the frequency of hiccupping episodes. Hurrah!
Overfeeding your babe is another potential hiccup-causing culprit. If your overfeed baby, the fullness can bloat his tummy and stimulate spasms in the diaphragm. Your best bet is to feed him little and often throughout the day. A useful way to avoid an overly voracious baby – one who may be tempted to inhale his food and consequently face the wrath of uncontrollable hiccupping – is to gauge his hunger cues. Watch out for him licking or smacking his lips, or sucking his hands, fingers and tongue.
Always keep baby sat upright after feeding
Another helpful weapon in your arsenal is keeping baby sat upright for 20-30 minutes after feeding. Not only will this encourage his food to settle, but it will prevent bubbles from forming in his stomach. Avoid any type of high-level activity or bouncing movement after mealtimes, too. This is a recipe for hiccup hell!
How can I stop baby hiccuping?
If it’s too late and a hiccuping episode has already struck (and noticeably bothering your poor babe), a good ol’distraction will usually help. Make him laugh or do something silly so he forgets all about them. Remember, just as easily as hiccups come, they fade away in no time.
When should I contact my doctor?
If, however, you’ve tried every trick in the book and baby’s hiccups continue for over 20 minutes or up to 48 hours, it’s wise to consult your doctor. There’s a small chance it could be gastroesophageal reflux or GERD – a condition that causes babies to regurgitate the contents of their stomach into the oesophagus, leading to pain and hiccuping. Don’t worry though, this is a common and temporary issue that can be easily medicated.
Take home message
The bottom line is that despite making you want to tear your hair out at times (yep, we’ve all been there), baby hiccups are no real cause for concern. And if you’re mindful of everything we’ve outlined above, you can even reduce their occurrence altogether. Phew, you’re probably thinking?!