Hiccups are strong contractions or spasms of the diaphragm caused by irritation or stimulation of the muscle. Everyone, young and old, gets the hiccups--even babies still in the womb get them.
Hiccups are usually nothing to worry about. “It's a nuisance to parents, but not so much to the baby,” paediatrician Dr. Lynnette Mazur, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center in the US told BabyCenter. “Unless the hiccups interfere with daily activities like sleeping or eating, there's no need to see a healthcare provider.”
Here’s the thing, though: there’s no scientifically proven way to cure hiccups. So startling your baby, pulling her tongue or following any more folk remedies (including the Pinoy belief of putting a string that’s damp with saliva on her forehead) won’t really do much of anything. “they'll go away soon,” says Mazur.
All you can do is prevent it from happening. And, infant hiccups are usually caused by feeding so a few tweaks could do the trick.
1. Don’t overfeed. “Overfeeding is a common cause of hiccups. If the stomach distends too fast or becomes too full, this can trigger the diaphragm muscle to go into spasms,” pediatrician Dr. William Sears told Parenting. For breastfeeding moms, try slowing down feedings by stopping to burp your baby when you switch from one breast to another. If you bottle-feed your baby, pause halfway through the bottle to burp her.
2. Make sure your baby isn’t swallowing too much air. Swallowing too much air during feeding can also cause your baby to get the hiccups. Dr. Sears recommends breastfeeding moms to review their latch-on techniques. “Be sure your baby's lips open wide and form a tight seal around your areola, not just the nipple,” he says. A sign that your baby may swallowing too much air or feeding too fast is if you hear a lot of gulping noises.
Bottle-fed babies can get too much air too if their bottles aren’t positioned properly. Your baby's bottle should be tilted at a 45-degree angle so the air rises to the bottom of the bottle, says Dr. Sears.
3. Don’t feed her lying down. To prevent air from settling in your baby’s stomach, Dr. Sears suggests having your baby sit on your lap during feedings at a 30- to 45- degree angle. Afterwards, keep her sitting upright for at least twenty minutes. This will cause any air to rise to the top of her stomach and will make it easy for her to burp.
In some cases, a baby’s hiccups is caused by gastroesophageal reflux (GER), a temporary condition where a baby regurgitates what’s in her stomach, causing pain and hiccups. “Other clues that your baby could be suffering from reflux are painful night-waking, general ‘colicky’ behavior, abdominal pain after feeding and spitting up,” says Dr. Sears. If you suspect this or are concerned with your baby’s hiccups, talk to her doctor.