Baby Hiccups

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Babies are the absolute cutest.

Their round little cheeks and their dimpled hands, and their little tiny elbows.

Their hiccups are also adorable. That is until they become painful and those cute hiccups dissolve into wails of pain.

When the stomach stretches more than usual, it pushes against your diaphragm which then causes a spasm which we call hiccups. Babies stomachs are more sensitive and can react to sudden changes in temperature, a lot of food, or even breathing funny by bursting out into hiccups.

Baby hiccups happen when the diaphragm contracts and the air previously trapped is forced out creating the little (adorable) hiccups sound.

While hiccups can be very annoying, the medical community still has not come up with a plausible reason as to why we do it. We do know, however, that hiccups happen when baby’s stomach expands- when he or she eats too quickly, over-eats, or swallows air.

Contrary to popular belief, hiccups don’t usually hurt baby as much as they hurt adults. We all have stories about when we couldn’t stop hiccuping and painfully had to wait it out.

Babies on the other hand, are less uncomfortable when they hiccup.

However, hiccups can get in the way of feeding, eating, sleeping, and relaxing. There are some tips to prevent your baby from getting the hiccups, and for helping baby once he or she has them!

While hiccups are not 100% preventable, there are strategies with how to deal with them.

Feeding baby in regular small amounts guarantees a more calm and relaxed feeding. As a result, the baby won’t consume large amounts of milk or formula at a time- distending the stomach, and baby will remain calm and not swallow as much air.

Ensuring the baby’s mouth is latched onto the whole nipple or repositioning the bottle so there is no air between the mouth and the rubber nipple also ensures that your baby won’t be swallowing unnecessary air.

If all else fails there are ways to help your baby cope and (hopefully!) get rid of the pesky hiccups.

If your baby is being breastfed, it is always recommended to burp him or her between breasts. This ensures the trapped air is released and helps feeding be more of a calm and pleasurable experience for you and baby. Using a pacifier also helps with hiccups. Sucking on a pacifier helps relax the diaphragm and ease the hiccuping. Rubbing baby’s back is also a sure way to to help them relax and stop the spasming.

It is important to note that several well-known remedies are absolutely not grounded in truth and can be dangerous for the baby. Do not make the baby jump, pull their tongue, or make them sip water upside down.

However, as with everything, if hiccups are too frequent or seem to distress the baby immensely it is important to see the doctor as soon as possible. If your baby cries more often during feeding, arches his or her back excessively during feedings, and/or spits up more than is usual, your baby may have GER. Gastroesophageal reflux is a painful condition where your stomach content rises to your esophagus. If you suspect your baby has GER, speak to the doctor- it will bring more calmness into your life and is easy to treat.

Shoshi W.
Shoshi is an undergraduate student at Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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