How To Stop A Baby’s Hiccups

How To Stop A Baby's Hiccups
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But above all, says Dr. Liermann: Don’t fret. “Hiccups stop on their own and don’t cause discomfort to babies. So don’t feel you need to treat them,” she says.

How to stop hiccups in newborns

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There are several ways to stop hiccups in newborns, including regular burping and using pacifiers. It is important to remember that most babies get hiccups and it is often not a cause for concern.

The hiccups happen when the baby’s diaphragm contracts. This forces air out through closed vocal chords, creating the hiccupping sound.

A person may be concerned that hiccups are causing a newborn discomfort. In this article, we explore the factors that trigger hiccups in newborns, the best ways to stop and prevent them, and when to see a doctor.

Sucking on a pacifier may help with a baby’s hiccupping.

Hiccups do not normally harm a baby. While adults may find hiccups uncomfortable, they tend to cause less distress in babies.

It is usually fine to leave a baby to stop hiccupping. If they do not stop, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor.

When a person is concerned and does not want to let newborn hiccups run their course, they may find the following strategies helpful:

Taking a break to burp the baby

When the stomach fills with air, it may push on the diaphragm, causing spasms. Taking a break from feeding to burp the baby may reduce the amount of air in their stomach. This can prevent hiccups.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is a good idea to burp bottle-fed babies every time they consume 2 to 3 ounces.

If a baby is breast-fed, it is a good idea to burp the baby while switching between breasts.

Using a pacifier

Sucking on a pacifier may help to relax the diaphragm and stop hiccupping.

Feeding them gripe water

Gripe water is a mixture of herbs and water. It is traditionally used to treat colic and other stomach problems.

The herbs usually contained in gripe water include:

If stomach issues are responsible for hiccups, some people believe that gripe water may help. However, no scientific evidence currently supports this treatment.

Because the risks are low, a person may decide to give gripe water a try. Several brands are available for purchase online.

Rubbing the baby’s back

Rubbing their back and rocking the baby back and forth can help them to relax. This may stop the spasms that cause hiccups.

What not to do

Some well-known remedies for hiccups are entirely rooted in tradition and have no scientific basis. These include:

  • making a person jump
  • pulling their tongue
  • making them sip water while upside down

It is a bad idea to try these, and many other home remedies, on a baby. These supposed remedies can distress a baby and may even be dangerous. They are unlikely to stop the hiccups.

Hiccupping is generally not a cause for concern.

Authors of a study from 2012 suggest that the hiccup reflex may serve to remove excess air from the stomach. However, the medical community is still unsure whether hiccups have a purpose. So, what happens in the body to cause them?

Hiccups happen when something causes the diaphragm to spasm, and the vocal cords quickly shut. Air is forced out through the closed vocal chords, creating the hiccupping sound.

The diaphragm is a large muscle that runs across the bottom of the rib cage. It moves up and down as a person breathes.

Hiccups in babies tend to occur for no apparent reason, but feeding can occasionally cause the diaphragm to spasm. They may happen when a baby:

  • overfeeds
  • eats too quickly
  • swallows too much air

These factors can cause the baby’s stomach to expand. As it expands, it pushes against the diaphragm, triggering the spasms that lead to hiccups.

If hiccups happen frequently and cause distress, they may result from an underlying health condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). This occurs when partially digested food and stomach acid come back up through the food pipe. As these fluids pass the diaphragm, they may irritate it and trigger spasms.

Feeding or stomach issues may not always cause hiccups. The diaphragm may spasm for unknown reasons.

Here’s What to Do When Your Baby Has the Hiccups

Your brand new baby has a serious case of hiccups. And while they’re a little bit adorable, you’re also wondering if there’s any cause for concern.

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“Baby hiccups are very common, and they aren’t normally a problem,” says pediatrician Kylie Liermann, DO. “In fact, they usually bother parents more than the baby.”

To calm your new parent nerves a little, Dr. Liermann explains what causes baby hiccups and how to get rid of them so you (and baby) can breathe easier.

Why do babies get hiccups?

Hiccups are most likely caused by irritation to the diaphragm, the muscle at the base of the lungs. Sometimes, that muscle starts to spasm or cramp. That causes the vocal cords to clamp shut, creating that distinctive “hic!” sound you know and dread.

Developing babies can get hiccups even before they’re born, and many pregnant people have felt the telltale flutters in their bellies.

Hiccups are especially common in newborns and infants. “We don’t know exactly why, but hiccups may be caused by increased gas in the stomach,” Dr. Liermann says. “If babies overfeed or gulp air during eating, that could cause the stomach to expand and rub against the diaphragm, generating those hiccups.”

Hiccups and gastroesophageal reflux

Usually, hiccups don’t bother babies. But sometimes, hiccups are a sign of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Reflux causes stomach acid to back up into the baby’s esophagus.

If your baby has GERD, hiccups won’t be the only symptom, Dr. Liermann says. Infants with reflux also have signs such as:

  • Coughing.
  • Spitting up.
  • Irritability and crying.
  • Arching the back, especially during or after a feeding.

If you notice these signs, talk to your doctor about whether your baby might have reflux and how to manage it.

How to stop baby hiccups

If your baby doesn’t have reflux symptoms, don’t stress over hiccups, Dr. Liermann says. But if those little “hics!” are bothering you, there are some things you can try.

Change feeding positions

Try feeding your little one in a more upright position, Dr. Liermann suggests. Propping your baby up on a pillow so they aren’t lying flat may help them take in less air at mealtimes.

Burp more frequently

“Burping usually helps with hiccups,” Dr. Liermann says. Burp your baby during feeding to prevent hiccups from striking. Try taking a burp break after 2 or 3 ounces.

If you’re nursing, burp your baby before you switch sides. If your nugget already has hiccups, you can try to relieve them with some gentle pats on the back.

Reach for the binky

Pacifiers can sometimes stop hiccups in their tracks. “The sucking motion can help relax the diaphragm,” Dr. Liermann explains.

Give gripe water

Gripe water is an over-the-counter blend of herbs marketed as a treatment for colic and tummy troubles. Some parents find it helps with hiccups, too.

But above all, says Dr. Liermann: Don’t fret. “Hiccups stop on their own and don’t cause discomfort to babies. So don’t feel you need to treat them,” she says.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy