How to Get Rid of Baby Hiccups ….or is it Hiccough?

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March 10, 2023
4 min read

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In this article we will discuss Hiccoughs …‘hiccups’ if you’re using the Macquarie dictionary!

What they are, what triggers them, what they are telling us, what NOT to do and what to do if your baby gets hiccups – including a few of the nitty gritty hiccup questions I often get.

What are hiccups?

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm muscle, which is responsible for breathing. When the diaphragm contracts involuntarily, it causes a sudden intake of breath, which is then followed by the closure of the vocal cords, resulting in the “hic” sound.

What can trigger hiccups?

In my experience swallowing air and insufficient winding are the main trigger for hiccups –  babies can swallow air when they feed or when they cry, which can also put pressure on the diaphragm and cause hiccups.

Other articles will point to overfeeding, excitement, a sudden change in ambient temperature but when in doubt assume it’s trapped wind.

What are hiccups telling us?

Hiccups are a very very strong sign that your baby is telling you that they’ve got trapped wind.

Babies will hiccup, newborn’s hiccups, all infants hiccup it’s absolutely normal – just like we do (every now and then) …and a lot of mums will tell you their baby hiccuped a lot in the womb most of the time they don’t bother babies …so don’t be distressed by them.

BUT if your baby:

✅ Hiccups A LOT

✅ Grunts a lot

✅ Farts a lot 

✅ And feeds frequently

These are very very strong signs that they need to be burped more and perhaps you need a more active winding method to help them release the excess air.

baby crying

How to prevent baby hiccups?

Always double check your baby has a good latch on the breast or bottle but other than that there’s no other way at all unfortunately to prevent hiccups. 

Babies are obligate nose breathers so sometimes air just gets in, hiccups in babies happen it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong it just means you have to help them get the air up.

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What NOT to do when your baby gets hiccups:

If you’re searching the internet on this topic, you may find a variety of recommendations for “a few tricks” or home remedies to get rid of hiccups.

As a Paediatrician I’d advise you avoid many of the stereotypical cures for hiccups when your baby gets them. 

Don’t startle your baby. 

Don’t pull their tongue.

Don’t make them sip water or milk while upside down.

These methods are not suitable for infants and may do more harm than good – while hiccups don’t tend to Bother babies most of these things absolutely will!

If your baby seems content, there’s no reason to intervene. It’s just a really good sign you need to burp more the next feed cycle.

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FAQS on Hiccups

➡️ What if my baby starts hiccuping as soon as I lie them down to burp them?

ANS: If your baby starts Hiccuping as soon as you start to burp them it’s just an indication you need to do a really thorough burping that round, they shouldn’t interrupt the winding method. Holding your baby upright for a period close to you should help them to relax. 

➡️ Do Hiccups expel trapped air, do they count as a burp?

ANS: Unfortunately while it feels like there is a lot of air coming up it doesn’t count as a burp – again, it just means you have to burp more. Babies tend

➡️If a Newborn hiccups a lot will they continue this as an infant or bigger baby?

ANS: Bigger Baby’s hiccups tend to be less frequent as they grow – this is because they are stronger, can sit up and can start to dispel some of that trapped air themselves 

➡️ What are considered Chronic hiccups?

ANS: Chronic hiccups in babies are hiccups that occur frequently or persistently for a prolonged period of time, typically lasting for more than 48 hours. While hiccups are common in babies and usually resolve on their own within a few minutes to hours, chronic hiccups can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires evaluation and treatment by a paediatrician.

Some possible causes of chronic hiccups in babies include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), neurological disorders, respiratory infections, or an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. In rare cases, chronic hiccups can also be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as a brain tumor or metabolic disorder.

If your baby has chronic hiccups or if the hiccups are accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever, vomiting, or poor feeding, you should consult your pediatrician. Your doctor can evaluate your baby’s symptoms, perform a physical exam, and order tests if necessary to determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

➡️ Are breastfed babies, expressed breast milk, formula fed/bottle fed babies more likely to hiccup than the other? 

ANS: The method of feeding doesn’t seem to have an impact it’s how well they are attached to to the nipple or teat and how well they are burped after the feed that matters – and as above no matter how good the latch is, sometimes air just gets in.

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