Baby hiccups might be adorable, but they can often be a source of worry for new parents. It’s important to know that these infant hiccups are usually harmless and are typically not a sign of bigger health issues. Like in adults, hiccups are an involuntary, sudden contraction of the diaphragm.
When babies swallow air during feeding, it can cause quick contractions of the diaphragm muscle which snaps the opening of the vocal cords shut, making the hiccup sound. Some babies aren’t disturbed by hiccups and can even sleep through them. However, they can often be a nuisance that interrupts feeding or nap time.
How do you get rid of a baby’s hiccups?
Most hiccups are caused by overfeeding, reflux, or belly distention, so most of the solutions are related to slightly changing how you feed your little one.
If your baby has a case of the hiccups right before feeding, nursing can help calm the diaphragm. Sucking has a soothing effect on your baby, helping her breathe more calmly and relaxing the diaphragm.
Reduce Air Intake
If you hear your baby gulping or swallowing a lot of air while nursing, she will likely get the hiccups.
If you are breastfeeding and you think your baby might be taking in too much air, make sure she is latching well. Have her lips sealed around the whole areola, not just the nipple to prevent her from swallowing too much air.
Bottle feeding can also cause your baby to take in air while feeding. If the nipple hole isn’t large enough on the bottle, she might suck quicker and harder, swallowing more air in the process. Similarly, if the hole is too big, she might be drinking the milk too quickly, filling up her stomach which places pressure on the diaphragm.
Take a Break During Feeding
Whether you breastfeed or use a bottle, taking a break during the feeding can help your baby get rid of her hiccups. If you use a bottle, take a break after 2 or 3 ounces. If you breastfeed, take a break when you switch breasts.
During the break, sit your baby upright and burp her or rub her back to help her get rid of the extra gas. The upright position can ease the pressure on the diaphragm by letting the air rise to the top of the stomach.
Feed Less More Often
Feeding your baby less milk more frequently will prevent your baby from overfeeding. When your baby takes in too much milk, too quickly, her belly becomes distended and triggers the diaphragm into the sudden contractions. By slowing down the feeding, you prevent her from getting too full which prevents pressure on the diaphragm.
Offer a Pacifier
Sometimes your baby’s hiccups start on their own. If that’s the case, try offering her a pacifier. The soothing effect of sucking on the pacifier relaxes the diaphragm while helping your baby control her breathing.
Try Gripe Water
If your baby continues to hiccup for more than ten minutes, try giving her some gripe water. Gripe water is a natural combination of herbs like ginger, fennel, chamomile, or cinnamon which help ease stomach discomfort caused by excess gas or air in the stomach.
If you are looking for a natural gripe water, try Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water. The natural herbal supplement works quickly using ginger and fennel to help expel the extra gas that puts pressure on the diaphragm.
Hiccups and Reflux
Very rarely, hiccups could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux, better known as GER. This brings some of the acids and undigested food back into the esophagus, causing hiccups and discomfort. If you are concerned that your baby’s hiccups are a sign of GER or that they are happening too frequently, mention your concerns to your pediatrician.