I am asked so many times about a baby’s hiccups. What are they? What causes hiccups in newborns?
So, let me explain; a baby gets the hiccups when the diaphragm spasms due to air being in the stomach. It is normal for babies to get them occasionally, although often frustrating, they are not a cause for concern.
However if your baby gets hiccups frequently the it could be a symptom of colic or reflux.
The colicky baby
A baby is likely to get hiccups if they have swallowed too much air. This can be during feeding or even when they have been crying. Since one of the big causes of colic is due to air intake hiccups are often associated with colic.
The best way to prevent hiccups in your colicky baby is to manage the intake of air by ensuring that your baby has a good latch to either the breast or the bottle. Also try and be attuned to your baby’s feeding cues so that they do not cry to demand their feed. I realise that this is difficult, however when a baby cries they take in a lot of air just before feeding and this is likely to result in hiccups and uncomfortable tummies.
The reflux baby
A baby who has reflux is also likely to get hiccups more frequently due to having more air in their stomachs and the spasms of the oesophagus being irritated by the acid. It is one of the first symptoms to look for when diagnosing a baby with silent reflux.
To prevent them in a baby with reflux, keep your baby upright for at least 30 minutes after each feed. This will help gravity do it’s job and keep the stomach contents down in the tummy rather than coming back up the oesophagus.
How to help your baby when hiccups strike
When your baby gets hiccups after feeding, try and wind them by keeping their oesophagus nice and straight so that the extra air can make it’s escape quicker and easier. A good winding technique is laying your baby over your knee, so that the pressure is on their tummy. This will keep them nice and straight and the pressure of your knee on the tummy can help move the trapped wind. If your baby has a dummy then offer it to your baby, as the sucking action can help relieve the them too. For more information on how a baby benefits from sucking then read more here.