1. Baby Hiccups Are Normal
A hiccup is a strong spasm of the diaphragm, the muscle that goes up and down when you breathe. The muscle spasm causes a sudden intake of air that creates the hiccup sound. Sometimes this sound can be unsettling for parents to hear when it comes from the mouth of their infant, but there's no need to worry. Hiccups in a baby are not painful like they are in adults, and they're rarely a sign of a medical problem.
2. Babies Hiccup Before They're Born
Some unborn babies hiccup in utero, and it is perfectly normal. A pregnant woman feels it as a small spasm in her belly. Also, if your baby has hiccups during a prenatal exam, you can hear them with a Doppler heart tone machine. Some babies start to hiccup as early as the last part of your first trimester, although you may not notice the hiccups until your baby gets bigger. In order for your unborn baby to hiccup, he or she has to have a well-developed central nervous system. It doesn't hurt your unborn baby to hiccup, and some doctors even believe that baby hiccups in utero soothe the baby by relieving pressures on growing organs and lungs.
3. Start a Hiccup Trigger Journal
Hiccups in born babies are as common as they are in unborn babies, and they are rarely something to worry about. If you are concerned, start a hiccup journal to figure out what might be triggering the episodes. Write down when your baby hiccups, the length of time the hiccups lasted, and if they affected your baby's temperament. It's common for babies to get hiccups after feeding. If your journal reveals a pattern of hiccups after feeding, you can try different feeding strategies to ease your baby's hiccups.
4. Preventing Baby Hiccups
Overfeeding can cause hiccups since too much milk or formula can cause the stomach to expand and trigger the diaphragm muscle to contract. If you are breast-feeding, slow down the feedings. When you switch your baby from one breast to the other, pause and burp her. Also, make sure your baby's lips are sealed around your areola and not just the nipple. If you're bottle feeding, burp your baby halfway through the bottle. Reduce the amount of air your baby swallows by tilting the bottle at a 45-degree angle.
5. Discuss Painful Hiccups With Your Doctor
Occasionally baby hiccups can be painful for your child. These painful hiccups can happen if he has gastroesophageal reflux (GER), a condition where your infant regurgitates some of the food into his esophagus, the muscle that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. This condition can cause painful night waking and an overall cranky baby. GER is usually temporary and will go away on its own as your baby's digestive system matures. However, if you suspect GER and are concerned, it's best to talk to your baby's doctor about your concerns.