Hiccups are a natural function of the human body and everyone experiences it time to time but these are most common in babies, especially among the ones under a year old. They experience the same in the womb, as young as 6 months or 6 weeks after the conception. Hiccups may last for a minute or so and are nothing to be scared of. Interestingly, some infants are also amused by it.
Babies might get hiccups right after being fed and it also might have a little milk because of the reflux. However it should not be a cause of too much worry. Because during infancy the muscular valve that helps to keep food in the stomach is not developed therefore the babies get reflux. That is why if the stomach is full the food and acid can come out along with hiccups. In some severe cases there might also be vomiting. It can happen with breast fed as well as formula fed babies. Apart from food, excitement among babies is also a cause. As and when their internal organs get more developed the intensity and frequency of the hiccups reduces.
A lot of people have misconceptions about the relation of breathing with hiccups which isn’t the case. They are caused due to the sudden contractions in the diaphragm caused due to its triggering by stimulation of muscles. Even a slight drop in the temperature that makes the baby cold can be a cause. Hiccups become harmful when they interfere the normal sleeping and feeding routine. Babies with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) have more of it also accompanied by coughing and irritation in the throat. This kind of situation should not be ignored and must be discussed with the doctor.
Overfeeding is one of the most important causes. Some mothers tend to feed the child most at once instead of giving smaller and frequent portions throughout the day which causes great discomfort to the child.
Fetal hiccups for some expecting mothers can be a beautiful feeling but at the same time many of them get a lot of discomfort by it. However it is very normal to take place and happens at the contraction of the diaphragm as a result of which the baby will suck the amniotic fluid that causes a hiccup effect.
Following are some points that might be considered in order to treat baby’s hiccups:
- Feeding the baby in an upright position as much as possible.
- Holding for at least 15 to 20 minutes after every feed.
- Giving more frequent and smaller feeds.
- Making the baby burp in case of bottle feeding after two to three minutes of feed.
- In case of perpetual hiccups one might visit a general physician for a better advice.
- One must never roughly handle the baby. Just a gentle rubbing on the back, giving some warm water or anything to suck on would be the right thing to do.
- Giving some gripe water is also helpful. It also relieves the child from other intestinal discomforts but all this has no scientific support even though it is used across the globe by worried mothers.
- One must also be careful with feeding and it should be done before the baby gets too hungry as it would reduce the chances of hiccups.
- Feeding should be made as calm and quiet as possible with least possible distractions for the child. It should be stopped if while being fed the child is constantly having hiccups.
- Reduction in air swallowing is also essential to deal with this problem. Just like gulping a lot of milk rapidly, swallowing air also causes hiccups during feedings. Therefore one must make sure that the baby’s lips are open properly and form a tight seal around the areola and not only the nipple. If there is lot of noise during gulping and sucking then it means that it’s being done too fast.
- While bottle feeding the bottle should ideally be with collapsible bag insert that are especially designed to reduce air swallowing.
- Placing some sugar under the tongue is also very useful. However this goes without any kind of scientific backing but has mostly been effective. When the sugar is swallowed its granules displace the diaphragm back to its original condition and it will further prevent hiccups.