A baby hiccups when her vocal cords rapidly close simultaneously with the contraction of her diaphragm. This quick closing of the vocal cords also causes the distinctive sound of a hiccup as we know it.
Based on the experience all adults have of hiccuping themselves, they believe that hiccups also cause discomfort to babies. However, this may not be true.
Usually, hiccups do not affect babies. In fact, babies can normally sleep through a bout of hiccups without being disturbed by it in the least bit.
Getting rid of hiccups in a baby
Despite being told that babies are not rattled by hiccups, many parents still feel the need to relieve their babies of it when it does occur.
Here are some ways that may be of help.
• Make baby burp
When feeding baby, take the time to make her burp. Burping helps to release excess gas that can be the cause of hiccups.
If your baby is breastfeeding, burp her in the middle of her feed. If she’s not breastfeeding, burp her after every 50 to 80 grams of food, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests.
Tip: When hiccups occur, do not slap or hit baby’s back. Gently pat her back instead.
• Use a pacifier
Infant hiccups start for various reasons, not only from feeding. Thus, when hiccups start suddenly for no reason, try using a pacifier.
Let baby suck on the pacifier as it can help her diaphragm relax and in that way, ease the hiccups.
• Let the hiccups stop on its own
Generally, hiccups will stop on their own. Thus, if they do not make baby uncomfortable, let them stop naturally.
If the hiccups do not stop, take baby to a doctor. In some rare cases, hiccups may be a sign of a medical concern.
• Give the baby water to drink
If the hiccups seem to bother your baby, you can try giving her some gripe water.
Made from herbs (ginger, fennel, chamomile, and cinnamon) gripe water is thought to ease colic and other intestinal problems. However, do get your doctor’s advice first to ensure there is no risk in giving baby gripe water.
Tip: Always read the label carefully first before giving baby anything to drink.
Can hiccups be prevented?
Since the cause of hiccups is mostly unclear, it’s difficult to completely prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Nevertheless, these tips may help:
• When feeding, keep baby as calm as possible. To be sure about this, feed baby before she gets too hungry. If you wait too long, she will get fidgety and fussy.
• After feeding, avoid activities like bouncing baby up and down. Any activity that requires a high level of energy should also be avoided.
• After each feeding, hold baby in an upright position for at least 20 minutes.
This article first appeared on Hello Doktor. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.