5 Tricks that Work for Baby Hiccups
Those magical little hiccups that happen in utero aren’t so much fun once the baby is earthside. While hiccups are both common and generally harmless in infants, we know they can be frustrating for parents and babies alike.
Here are a few practical tricks for dealing with baby hiccups:
1. Burp Frequently
Babies often get hiccups because they have gas trapped in their bellies. This gas can distend the stomach which then pushes on the diaphragm causing it to spasm. As such, you can effectively reduce the frequency of hiccups by working to eliminate some of this gas. Burping is a good place to start! Be sure to read our article on reducing infant gas and check out the infographic below for more helpful ideas.
2. Offer Gripe Water
Some parents swear by this homeopathic treatment for hiccups! Gripe water is a mixture of purified water with natural herbs or spices that are known for settling the stomach. Formulations may include a mixture of the following:
- Lemon balm
Gripe water is an over-the-counter remedy that is typically given using a syringe or dropper. As with all treatments, you should consult with your pediatrician before introducing it to your baby.
3. Change Baby’s Position
Have you heard the old wives’ tale about standing on your head to get rid of hiccups? While we don’t recommend this for your baby, there is something to the idea of changing positions. Placing your infant in an upright position, particularly after feeding, will reduce the likelihood of a bout of hiccups. If your baby already has the hiccups, switching their position will cause different muscle groups to engage and may help relax the diaphragm.
4. Try Paced Feeding
It can be a challenge to control the flow of milk and air that your baby takes in while bottle feeding. Since we know that excess gas can irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups, finding ways to limit excess air intake during feeding is crucial. Paced feeding is a method of bottle feeding that allows the infant more control over how much they take in. Here are the main tenets of paced feeding:
- The bottle is given based on hunger cues, rather than on a schedule
- The nipple is inserted only when baby opens mouth to latch
- The infant is fed in a semi-upright position
- The bottle is held horizontal to the floor, not tipped up at an angle
- Breaks are given every 30 seconds or as initiated by the infant
- Feeding only continues if the baby seeks out the nipple to continue drinking
Paced feeding requires the infant to actively draw milk out of the bottle rather than allowing gravity to provide a continuous drip. This is similar to how infants draw milk while breastfeeding! This method allows an infant to take in as much milk as they desire while building trust that the infant can decide for themselves when they are done. By reducing the likelihood of overfeeding and gulping, babies who are paced-fed may have less gas and therefore, fewer hiccups!
5. Wait It Out
While frustrating, hiccups are typically harmless and usually go away on their own. Sometimes the best method for dealing with infant hiccups is to distract the baby and wait it out! Most babies are significantly less bothered by hiccups than we are as their parents.
If your baby seems agitated, uncomfortable, or distressed by their hiccups, we suggest scheduling an appointment with their pediatrician to rule out underlying causes or contributing factors such as reflux or cow’s milk protein allergy.