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, in reality, hiccups are not 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 get rid of hiccups in your baby and we will teach you how to prevent it.
What is hiccups and why does it occur?
Physiologically, hiccups are the convulsive and involuntary movement of the diaphragm. It occurs due to a distension of the stomach which, in turn, causes a sharp, sudden and spontaneous contraction of the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen. At the same time, there is a spasmodic closure of the glottis, the upper opening of the larynx, which is what gives rise to the characteristic sound of hiccups.
The causes that cause hiccups in the newborn are not known with certainty. It is most likely caused by the immaturity of the baby’s stomach and/or excessive intake of fluids or gases. In fact, in many cases hiccups appear after prolonged crying, regurgitation or when the baby has eaten too quickly, which leads to swallowing more air. Less commonly, it can occur after excessive ingestion of milk or water.
Is hiccups dangerous for a newborn?
In most newborns, hiccups occur 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 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 feeding. Therefore, as the baby learns to feed itself and its stomach develops, the frequency of episodes of hiccups is greatly reduced.
However, if the baby’s hiccups do not reduce their 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 get rid of hiccups in a newborn
The main recommendation to get rid of hiccups in a newborn is to be patient and wait for them to disappear naturally. Keep in mind that it is a completely normal process that does not harm the little one, although if you prefer to stop the hiccups as soon as possible, these are some tricks that you can apply:
- Change it position. If the baby is hiccuping, a simple solution is to reposition the baby to get the diaphragm to fall back into place naturally. For example, if he is semi-lying down, you can lift him up completely and support him on his shoulders as if you were going to relieve him of gas after feeding.
- Give him the breast. Breastfeeding your baby when he hiccups can help stop the hiccups quickly by activating the suction mechanism. What happens is that the sucking and swallowing movements of the baby while feeding urge the diaphragm to return to its position causing the hiccups to stop.
- Offer him the pacifier. Offering your baby a pacifier to stop hiccups can be just as effective as breastfeeding. This is because the pacifier activates the same instinctive sucking and swallowing movements as breastfeeding, causing the diaphragm to fall back into place naturally. Of course, do not forget to remove the pacifier after the hiccups to prevent swallowing air.
- Give him water to drink. Giving the baby some cool water or breast milk from a spoon can help the diaphragm return to its position and the hiccups stop. In this case, it is the swallowing movements that act by relaxing the diaphragm and causing it to stop contracting abruptly.
- Give him a sneeze. This popular trick is also effective in stopping baby from hiccuping. To achieve this, you can pass 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 will make it return to its place.
How to prevent hiccups in a newborn?
The best way to deal with hiccups in a newborn is to prevent them and reduce the chances of them occurring. Taking into account that the accumulation of gases is one of the main causes of hiccups in babies, one way to prevent their 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 makes him ingest less air.
In the event that the baby is bottle-fed, it is important to pay attention to the inclination of the teat to avoid leaving empty spaces through which air can enter. In the same way, the teat must always be full of milk, otherwise the baby could ingest air from the bottle through the teat.
Another alternative is not to wait until the baby is very hungry to feed him, because when he does, he will feel more anxious, eat faster and take in more air. Likewise, it is recommended that after each feeding, the baby is placed fully raised on the shoulder and gently patted with the palm of the hand on the back to help him expel gas.
In addition, it is advisable not to change the child’s clothes in places with drafts, since temperature variations can cause distension of the stomach and the consequent appearance of hiccups.