Newborn hiccups are common, but they can be distressing for new parents who may worry that their baby is uncomfortable or unwell. In this blog post, we will explore what causes these hiccups and offer solutions recommended by the NHS to help alleviate them. As a compassionate guide to new parents, we understand your concerns and hope to provide helpful insights on how you can make your little one feel better.
What are Newborn Hiccups?
Newborn hiccups are a common occurrence in babies and happen when their diaphragm muscles involuntarily contract and the vocal cords quickly shut. In response, the vocal cords close quickly, making the ‘hiccup’ sound. They can be caused by excess air in the baby’s tummy, which can occur during feeding or from swallowing air while crying. Hiccups may also be a sign of acid reflux, which happens when stomach acid flows back into the food pipe causing discomfort. Newborn hiccups can be a sign of acid reflux, which causes discomfort when stomach acid flows back into the food pipe.
Burping your baby after feeds and keeping them upright for 20-30 minutes after feeding can help prevent hiccups caused by excess air. Rubbing your baby’s back or gently patting their back to calm them down may also help stop hiccups. Hiccups can also happen when you’re weaning your baby, especially if he’s eating too quickly, or swallowing air whilst chewing. The NHS suggests that if your newborn experiences frequent hiccups along with other symptoms like vomiting or difficulty breathing, it is important to seek medical advice from your GP.
Causes of Newborn Hiccups
Newborn hiccups can be a common occurrence and are usually nothing to worry about. The following factors may contribute to this condition:
- Immature digestive system: Babies have an immature digestive system that is still developing, which makes them more prone to hiccups
- Overfeeding or swallowing air during feeding: Feeding your baby too much or too quickly can cause excess air intake, leading to hiccups
- Sudden changes in temperature or environmental factors: Abrupt changes in temperature, such as moving from warm indoors to cold outdoors, can also trigger newborn hiccups
How to get rid of my newborn baby’s hiccups?
There are several ways to stop newborn hiccups. Here are some of the common techniques that parents and healthcare providers use to alleviate hiccups in newborns:
- Burping: Gently patting and rubbing your baby’s back after feeding can help them burp and release the air that may have trapped in their stomach. Hold your baby upright and burp them regularly during bottle feeding, gently rubbing their back. Burping can prevent hiccups by reducing the amount of air bubbles moving upwards from the stomach
- Slow down your baby’s feeds and feed your baby smaller amounts more frequently: Giving your baby smaller feeds more frequently can help prevent them from swallowing air, which can trigger hiccups
- Changing feeding positions: Newborns that are bottle-fed may experience hiccups due to the pressure that can build up in the bottle’s nipple. You can avoid this by changing the feeding position and ensuring the nipple is always filled with milk.If you’re breastfeeding it might be worth experimenting with different breastfeeding positions
- Pacifier: Using a pacifier can help calm down your baby and prevent hiccups. It encourages sucking, which triggers the release of saliva that can help neutralize stomach acid
- Rocking: Many parents find that rocking their baby can help stop hiccups. Simple rhythmic movements like swaying or bouncing can calm your baby and reduce the intensity of hiccups
- Colic-relieving medications: Medications like simethicone drops can help break down air bubbles in the stomach, reducing the likelihood of hiccups
Remember that it is common for babies to have hiccups and they usually go away on their own without any treatment. However, if your baby experiences frequent or prolonged bouts of hiccups along with signs of reflux such as spitting up excessively, consult a healthcare professional or seek medical advice promptly. Hiccups can also happen when you’re weaning your baby, especially weaning too quickly, or swallowing air whilst chewing.
NHS Recommended Solutions for Newborn Hiccups
Feeding smaller, more frequent meals instead of larger ones can help newborns avoid excess air in their stomachs, and reduce the likelihood of hiccups. The NHS also suggests avoiding over-stimulating the baby before feedings by keeping a calm environment and routine around feeds. Additionally, burping your baby in an upright position after feeding can help release any trapped wind and prevent reflux, which may trigger hiccups. Rubbing or patting your baby’s back gently while holding them in this position can also encourage burping. Following these simple tips recommended by NHS could help stop newborn hiccup episodes quickly and effectively, without relying on medication or other interventions.
When to Seek Medical Help for Newborn Hiccups
Hiccupping when feeding can sometimes be a sign of baby reflux. If your baby’s hiccups persist for longer than usual, more than an hour, it may be time to seek medical help. It’s also important to pay attention if your baby shows signs of discomfort or pain in addition to the hiccups. If the hiccups occur along with other symptoms such as vomiting, high temperature, or difficulty breathing, it is recommended that you seek professional medical advice from your GP or healthcare provider.
While frequent hiccups are generally harmless and can be caused by excess feeding or smaller feeds without burping breaks, there are times when seeking medical assistance is necessary. In some cases, newborns with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may experience severe hiccups due to acid reflux irritating their diaphragm muscles. An upright position after a feed and a gentle rub on the back while in this position can calm down mild instances of reflex-related hiccuping. However persistent and prolonged bouts of GERD-induced hiccuping need immediate attention from professionals at NHS-recommended facilities.
Symptoms of reflux to watch out for:
- Baby spits up frequently or arches their back during or after a feeding
- Baby seem constantly uncomfortable, particularly during or after feeding
- Difficulty sleeping, coughing or wheezing, and poor weight gain
In conclusion, newborn hiccups are a common occurrence in babies and usually nothing to worry about. As a new parent, you can try some of the simple solutions recommended by the NHS, such as burping your baby frequently during feeds, feeding smaller amounts more frequently, keeping your baby calm and avoiding sudden movements. However, if your baby experiences frequent or prolonged bouts of hiccups, that interfere with your baby’s sleep, along with signs of reflux or other symptoms, such as vomiting, fever, or difficulty breathing, it is important to seek medical advice. Your health visitor or doctor can offer guidance and reassurance about what to do to help prevent hiccups. Remember to trust your instincts as a parent, and always seek medical help if you’re concerned about your newborn’s health.
- Things you can do yourself to stop or prevent hiccups – NHS
- Your guide to baby hiccups – Emmas Diary
- Reflux in babies – NHS
NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information in this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.
The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.
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