Even from the second half of pregnancy, mothers have already felt their babes having hiccups. They are normally described as a sudden jerky movement that tends to recur. In newborn infants on the other hand, hiccups are mostly associated with the changing of breathing pattern and slowing of the heart rate. A recent study claims the hiccups send out waves of brain signals that help babies regulate their breathing. But how do we get rid of these hiccups?
Having hiccups is considered normal for babies under 12 months. It usually becomes more frequent during the 4th month and goes away on its own between 12 and 18 months of age.
Unlike most grownups or slightly older children, we cannot ask babies to hold their breath or swallow a spoonful of sugar or ask someone to scare them to help them get rid of their hiccups. In this article will discuss some of the reasons why hiccups occur, what are some ways to stop or prevent them and identify when it is time to seek for a professional medical help.
How to cure hiccups
What are hiccups, anyway?
Somehow researchers and medical practitioners do not really have an explanation on why hiccups happen. One theory is that it acts as a way for babies to learn how breathe properly. Hiccups are a way for the baby’s developing brain connect to the diaphragm so that they can learn how to voluntarily breath through the diaphragm’s activity.
Even though it is a mystery why hiccups happen, experts have a perfect explanation on how it occurs. Hiccups happen when the muscle below your baby’s lungs or the diaphragm contracts and the vocal cords quickly shuts.
The air that is forced out through the closed vocal cords is the culprit in making the hiccup sound. And since a baby’s stomach and torso are super small it does not have much space for too much food.
How do babies get hiccups?
Normally hiccups occur in babies when they are overfed, eat too quickly and swallow too much air. Hiccups are sometimes linked to when food and drink is swallowed at the same time. It also linked with babies feeling strong emotions such as excitement or stress. It can be a sign that your baby might be a bit overwhelmed by the environment.
There are some cases in which food and acid comes back up (reflex), since babies does not have fully developed digestive system yet, their tummy cannot contain that much milk which causes posseting. That is why it is important to let babies “burp” after feeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advices that bottle-fed babies should be burped every 2- 3 ounces of milk consumption.
Burping can be done over-the shoulder or on-the-lap which you can do either sitting or standing. Babies can actually feel relieved after burping. Always bring a washcloth or a bib in case the baby spits up. It also helps to stimulate the baby. Remember though, that not all babies get to burp out loud and there is nothing to worry about because it is normal.
How do you stop babies from getting hiccups?
Hiccups are generally harmless and typically go away on their own. It is understandable for parents to want their babies relieved from these uncomfortable spasms. There have been a lot of relief from hiccups has been named in the past that is effective until now while some were just proven to be ineffective.
When breastfeeding, mothers should burp their babies and switch from one breast to the other. Make sure that he baby’s lips are fully enclosed around the areola and not just the nipples to prevent swallowing of air.
Parents who bottle-feed should try repositioning the bottle to make the air flow near the bottom of the bottle as much as possible. Switching up a routine is also a good idea if your baby gets hiccups more frequently.
Stop midway every feeding session and take time to burp your baby. Slowing down the feeding process can help avoid overfilled stomach that can trigger diaphragm spasm.
It might help to give the child smaller amount of milk at a slower interval. Track your feeding session and avoid making your baby feel super hungry and upset.
Babies tend to drink their milk faster when they are hungry which in turn increases the chance of swallowing air and filling the tummy too quickly. It is also important to take note that sometimes the bottle design traps more air than usual.
Having a high-quality feeding bottle should be taken into consideration. Make sure that a proper nipple size is installed. If you are using a smaller size nipple that what is appropriate for the baby’s age, they will end up swallowing more air than what is necessary.
Most brands label their nipple bottles in different newborn stages 0 month, 3 months, 6 moths and 9 months. Make sure that the bottle nipples are regularly changed depending on how much milk the baby needs. At 9-months, you child can now forego feeding bottles and graduate to a sippy cup.
One way to get rid of hiccups is that using a dominant hand pat your baby, working your way up and try to rub their backs in circular and relaxing motion. This motion can help the baby feel relaxed and pacified, preventing the spasm to further occur. It also helps if you keep your baby in an upright position for 20 to 30 minutes after each meal.
Limiting on active play such as bouncing up and down and any form of high energy game after mealtime also reduces the chance of getting a hiccup. On the other hand, if the hiccup is not caused by feeding it is suggested to give your baby a pacifier when not eating. The sucking movement helps relax the diaphragm enough to make the hiccups stop.
There are some parents who swore by giving gripe water helps hiccups stop right away. Gripe water is an herbal remedy that is believed to relieve colic symptoms in babies. A gripe water solution mostly consists of fennel, ginger, chamomile, licorice, cinnamon and lemon balm. Babies can drink this gripe water immediately after feeding to avoid having gas pain.
Gripe water can also be mixed with baby formula and breastmilk. You can always make this one at home to ensure that it does not contain any alcohol or chemical that may warm your baby. Another common gas relief product is gas drops. Gas drops are made from simethicone which is designed to relieve gas pressure and pain.
When do you seek medical attention?
While hiccups are said to be normal and should not cause alarm, there are times that hiccups may be a symptom of some serious medical condition. Excess in hiccups that last up to more than 12 months, interrupted sleep cause by hiccups, and agitation while hiccupping is some of the few signs that you need to watch out for and have your baby checked by a doctor. In some cases, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) may occur.
GER can have the following symptoms especially if the hiccups has been going on for almost two year already. Here are a few signs to watch out for in your babies.
- Vomiting: excessive spit up
- Irritability during feeding: baby feels fussy and irritated
- Lack of sleep: unable to sleep, disturbed sleep
- Refusal to eat and difficulty eating or swallowing: results to difficulty in gaining weight
To properly diagnose your child, it is best to talk to your child’s doctor and pediatrician before making any sudden changes. Trusted doctors and other medical conditioners may also suggest a change of lifestyle might help treat your child’s GERD or acid reflux. Talk to a pediatrician if the hiccups disturb your baby’s proper sleep continue to happen after your child turns one.
Baby Hiccups on infant reflux is said to be a normal occurrence in a child’s life. These are usually caused by lying flat all the time, having a full liquid diet and excessive amount of air swallowed. It occurs when a diaphragm contract and the vocal cords promptly close. While in babies’ it normally occurs if the baby is over fed, swallowed too much air while feeding or feed on their milk rather to quickly.
According to Lynette Mazur, a professor for pediatrics at the University Of Texas Health Science Center, that as long as the hiccups does not interfere with baby’s activities then there is no need to get worried.
Regular burping sessions, taking feeding breaks, pacifier and gripe water helps reduce hiccups from happening. Parents need not to worry about hiccups because it normally stops within 5-10 minutes. If it lasts more than that consult a doctor right away. Frequent hiccups are common for kids under 12 months of age.
As long as the baby is eating, gaining weight and is happy, hiccups does not cause any harm. Much like how excessive drool and rash prone skin, hiccups are part of a baby’s life. After all, hiccups is a reflex that has been there even before the child was born. As your baby grows older these hiccups will also gradually decrease over time.