While tiny baby hiccups might be adorable and quite common, sometimes parents become concerned that the baby is hiccupping for too long or too often. Hiccups, when paired with other symptoms, can be a sign of a more serious issue.
Hiccups are typically caused by an irritation, spasm, or cramp of the muscle at the bottom of the lungs, called the diaphragm. This causes the vocal cords to shut, causing the hiccup sound. Hiccups are common in newborns and some babies experience them even before they are born.
It is unclear why babies are more likely to get hiccups, but it might be caused by gas, eating too quickly, overfeeding or gulping too much air. Sometimes it might be caused by gastroesophageal reflux which is acid backing up into the esophagus and irritating the diaphragm as it passes through. This will come with other symptoms such as crying more, spitting up more and sometimes arching their back. If you are concerned this might be reflux make sure to talk with your pediatrician.
Tips to help stop baby hiccups
1. Change feeding positions
If hiccups seem to be connected to feeding times, a change in feeding positions may help prevent hiccups. Sit your baby slightly more upright during feeding to prevent them from swallowing too much air or gas.
2. Frequently burp your baby
Taking a short burp break during feeding may also help reduce gas and air buildup in a baby’s stomach. Try burping your baby every few ounces during feeding.
3. Rub your baby’s back
Gently rubbing your baby’s back while feeding may help air and gas pass through more easily. Rubbing their back can also help them burp, which may also help relieve hiccups.
4. Wait it out
Most babies’ hiccups will resolve in a few minutes, so if the methods above are not working to get rid of hiccups, just give it time and keep the baby upright for 20-30 minutes after feeding.
Baby hiccups FAQ’s
Here are a few commonly asked questions about how to stop hiccups in babies and other concerns about baby hiccups.
Is it OK to lay babies down with hiccups?
Yes, you can lay down a baby with hiccups. As long as they are not having difficulty breathing or displaying other symptoms of distress, the hiccups should pass in a few minutes no matter what position they are in.
What is the best position for baby hiccups?
The best position for a baby with hiccups is sitting upright. This can help reduce gas or air from entering the stomach during feeding.
Why do babies get hiccups?
It is unknown why babies are more predisposed to hiccups. It could be related to a reflex to prevent the baby from swallowing too much air during feeding. But as a parent, it is important to know that hiccups are almost always normal and typically not a concern.
What causes hiccups in babies?
Newborn hiccups are likely caused by too much air or gas swallowed during feeding. Eating too quickly, eating while lying down or eating too much can all trigger hiccups in babies.
Does gripe water work with babies?
There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of gripe water, particularly for stopping hiccups. Additionally, infants should not be given any liquids other than breastmilk or formula before six months as it can interfere with getting enough calories. Since hiccups are not dangerous to babies, it is best to avoid treating them with gripe water or any other at-home treatments.
Pediatric services at urgent care
Being the parent of a newborn, especially if this is your first child, can involve a lot of questions or concerns. Many new parents don’t always know if a baby’s symptoms are a reason to worry.
Our caring providers at our urgent care centers are here to help. Whether you have questions about how to get rid of newborn hiccups, a sudden fever, feeding concerns or worries about other common illnesses, we are here for you. Several centers specialize in pediatric care as well.
The urgent care centers through our healthcare provider partners are here to help the whole family with a wide range of non-emergency health services. Just walk in, save your spot online or schedule a virtual visit at your local urgent care center.