Hiccups In The Newborn Baby: Why Does It Occur And How To Avoid It?

Hiccups are quite common in most newborns and up to around six months of age. This “problem” worries many parents, especially if they are new, because they believe that it can harm the baby and make him feel uncomfortable. However, hiccups are not really much more bothersome for a baby than for an adult and usually without causing complications. However, if you prefer to be calm, we will tell you some tricks to remove your baby’s hiccups and we will teach you how to prevent it.

What is hiccup and why does it occur?

At a physiological level, hiccups are the involuntary and convulsive movement of the diaphragm. It occurs due to a distention of the stomach that, in turn, causes a sharp, sudden and spontaneous contraction of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the thorax from the abdomen. At the same time there is the spasmodic closure of the glottis, the upper opening of the larynx, which is what gives rise to the characteristic sound of hiccups.

The causes of hiccups in the newborn are not known with certainty. Most likely it originates due to the immaturity of the baby’s stomach and / or excessive ingestion of liquids or gases. In fact, in many cases hiccups appear after prolonged crying, spitting up or when the baby has eaten too quickly, which leads to swallowing more air. Less frequently, it can occur after excessive ingestion of milk or water.

Is hiccup dangerous for a newborn?

In most newborns, hiccups appear quite often and last much longer than in adults. On average, hiccups in a newborn can last between 10 and 15 minutes, although it can sometimes take longer to disappear. Obviously, it is normal for parents to be alarmed by this situation, although in reality it is a natural process that is not dangerous for the baby.

In fact, many babies have hiccups since they are in the womb and in these cases the hiccups are a good sign that the diaphragm is working well. At birth, hiccups become a kind of natural adaptive response of the digestive system to food. Therefore, as the baby learns to feed and his stomach develops, the frequency of hiccups is greatly reduced.

However, if the baby’s hiccups do not reduce its frequency by the sixth or seventh month of life, it is recommended to consult a specialist to rule out that it is being caused by an alteration of the digestive system or another physiological problem.

5 tricks to remove hiccups from a newborn

The main recommendation to remove the hiccups in a newborn is to be patient and wait for it to disappear naturally. Keep in mind that this is a completely normal process that does not harm the little one, although if you prefer to cut off the hiccups as soon as possible, these are some tricks you can apply:

1. Change it position.  If your baby has hiccups, a simple solution is to change his position to get the diaphragm back into place naturally. For example, if he is semi-lying down, you can raise him fully and support him on your shoulders as if you were going to remove gas after feeding.

2. Breastfeed. Breastfeeding your baby when he has hiccups can help stop it quickly by activating the suction mechanism. What happens is that the baby’s sucking and swallowing movements while feeding urge the diaphragm to return to its position causing the hiccups to stop.

3. Offer the pacifier. Offering a pacifier to your baby to stop hiccups can be as effective as breastfeeding. This is because the pacifier activates the same instinctive sucking and swallowing movements as breastfeeding, causing the diaphragm to return to its place naturally. Of course, do not forget, remove the pacifier after the hiccups to prevent swallowing air.

4. Give him water to drink. Giving your baby some cool water or breast milk with a spoon can help the diaphragm snap back into position and stop the hiccups. In this case, it is the swallowing movements that act by relaxing the diaphragm and causing it to stop contracting abruptly.

5. Give him a sneeze. This popular trick is also effective in removing baby hiccups. To do this, you can run a soft, clean cloth over his nose to get him to sneeze. The sudden movement of the sneeze will stop the involuntary movement of the diaphragm and make it return to its place.

How to prevent hiccups in a newborn?

The best way to deal with hiccups in a newborn is by preventing it and reducing the chances of it appearing. Taking into account that the accumulation of gases is one of the main causes of hiccups in babies, one way to prevent its appearance is precisely to ensure that they do not swallow too much air when feeding. In this sense, it is recommended to bet on the mother’s breast before the bottle because by adapting better to the baby’s mouth, it causes him to ingest less air.

In case the baby is bottle-fed, it is important to pay attention to the inclination of the nipple to avoid that there are empty spaces where air can enter. In the same way, the nipple must always be full of milk, otherwise the baby could ingest air from the bottle through the nipple.

Another alternative is not to wait until the baby is very hungry to feed him since when he does, he will feel more anxious, he will eat faster and he will take in more air. It is also recommended that after each feeding is completed, the baby is fully raised on the shoulder and is gently patted with the palm of the hand on the back to help expel gas.