It’s safe to say that we are all familiar with hiccups. We have all experienced them at certain points and their frequency usually decreases as we grow older. But unlike us, babies are usually prone to hiccups. This is a condition that even fetus experience and it usually begins as early as 6-7 weeks after conception. The frequency of hiccups usually varies. It can last for a few minutes and extend to up to an hour.
Hiccups are generally harmless but might lead to discomfort. These are normal reflexes which a parent shouldn’t be worried about. But for first-time moms, this can cause worries. But do not panic, I was once just like you. From my experience, I have learned that there are many causes of hiccups but it is possible to manage this condition.
What Causes Baby Hiccups?
This reflex condition usually occurs when the muscle that’s found below the diaphragm contracts. There are various factors that may trigger the contraction of diaphragm muscles and they include:
When you overfeed your baby, they risk ending up with a distended stomach or suffer from bloating. The unexpected abdominal cavity expansion will cause the diaphragm to extend leading to spasms that cause hiccups. This is true because some of the moments that I have noticed severe hiccuping in my baby was right after breastfeeding.
This is a state where the stomach contents are moved back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux normally happens in infants because the lower side of their sphincter is underdeveloped. The upward food movement causes an acidic irritation which triggers and alters nerve cell functions leading to hiccups.
In case your baby is asthmatic, it’s easy for their bronchial tubes to get inflamed. This leads to restricted air flow towards the lungs. As a result, the baby will start wheezing because of inadequate air supply. The spasmodic effect on the diaphragm is what causes hiccups.
Your baby could be allergic to certain types of proteins. Most babies who experience hiccups are normally allergic to protein compounds in formula milk and sometimes breast milk. This causes Eosinophilic Esophagitis, an allergic reaction that results in the rapid fluttering of the diaphragm and induces hiccups.
A Drop in Temperature
Babies are normally sensitive to temperature changes. A slight drop causes their muscles to contract which affects the shape of the diaphragm leading to hiccups.
If you are a new mom, do not panic if your baby suddenly breaks into hiccups. Analyze the situation and try to find the possible causes.
How to Alleviate Hiccups in Babies
Personally, when my baby starts hiccuping, I usually observe them for a few minutes before searching for a remedy. This is because the hiccuping sometimes lasts for a few minutes only. However, if the hiccuping doesn’t stop, some of the best remedies that offer timely solutions include:
Burping helps to remove the air content in the baby’s stomach. Research shows that it’s always good to burp the baby after feeding to push out the excess air in the stomach which causes muscle spasms in the diaphragm. I always make sure that I burb my baby after feeding because this helps to relax their muscles.
Using a Pacifier
A pacifier helps to relax the diaphragm muscles. One general thing that I have noticed with pacifiers is that they tend to soothe and calm the whole body.
This is a mixture of water and herbs. Traditionally, gripe water is used to treat colic. Herbs such as cinnamon, chamomile, fennel, and ginger help to soothe the body and alleviate stomach problems which are responsible for hiccups.
Rubbing the Baby’s Back
Back rubs help the baby to relax and breath comfortably. If your baby starts hiccuping, rub their back and rock them back and forth to stop the spasms which induce hiccuping.
In order to prevent hiccuping, make sure that you feed your baby small food quantities over an extended period of time. Do not over stuff them in a single sitting or in one breastfeeding session. This helps to prevent bloating or gastroesophageal irritation. If your baby is still an infant, always hold them at a 35-45-degree angle when breastfeeding and support their back. This helps gravity (and not air) to pull down the food. If they are old enough, always feed them in a sitting position. Always observe how they feed and if you notice that they are slurping while breastfeeding, adjust the nipple to reduce the air gap.
What to Avoid
There are certain hiccup remedies that are suitable for adults and not children. For instance, do not give your child sour confectioneries because the powdered acid is harmful. Don’t scare or startle your baby because they may easily experience colic trauma. Besides those, avoid pulling the baby’s tongue out or placing a finger inside their mouth. If you notice that the hiccuping is serious and its interfering with the baby’s feeding and sleeping patterns, then consult with a doctor.