How to Prevent and Stop Baby Hiccups

It’s not unusual for your newborn or older baby to get the hiccups from time to time. Most babies do! Hiccups are usually harmless and go away on their own after a few minutes; but read on to find out how you can try to help prevent or get rid of them, and to find out what causes them in the first place.

What Causes Hiccups in Newborns and Babies?

Babies get hiccups from time to time. You may have even noticed quick rhythmic jerks of your little one hiccupping while he or she was still inside your tummy. In any case, hiccups are usually nothing to worry about.

What causes hiccups is your baby’s diaphragm ‘twitching’. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of your baby’s chest, under the lungs, that relaxes and contracts to help your baby breathe.

When a hiccup occurs, your baby’s diaphragm involuntarily and suddenly contracts, quickly causing air to get sucked in a little more forcefully than a usual breath. When this force of air hits your baby’s vocal cords, they close suddenly, which is what makes that well-known ‘hiccup’ sound.

Why Do Babies Get Hiccups?

It’s not always obvious why babies (or adults for that matter) get hiccups, but it may be triggered by eating too fast or too much, or perhaps if your child is feeling excited or nervous about something.

How to Get Rid of Your Baby’s Hiccups

Hiccups usually only last for a few minutes, so in most cases they will go away by themselves.

When your newborn or older baby has hiccups, there isn’t any magic cure that will get rid of them straight away.

Still, because stress or over-excitement could be a factor it might help to keep your child relaxed and comfortable by having some easy playtime together, gently rocking him or her and making sure his or her nappy is clean.

If your baby gets hiccups a lot during or just after feeding, it might be a sign of reflux. Reflux most commonly develops in babies after the age of 2 months. It usually clears up by around the age of 12 months.

Other signs of reflux can include:

  • Coughing during feeds

  • Crying a lot when feeding

  • Regularly bringing up milk during or after feeds

  • Refusing feeds

  • Poor weight gain (your health visitor will be monitoring this with growth charts

  • Waking up a lot during the night.

If you suspect reflux could be behind your baby’s hiccups, try burping your little one frequently during each feed.

Keeping your baby upright during feeds can be helpful too, and if you’re breastfeeding it might be worth experimenting with different breastfeeding positions.

Like hiccups, reflux in babies isn’t usually serious. But if the symptoms are severe, or if they don’t go away after a couple of weeks or seem to be getting worse, ask your health visitor or doctor for advice.

How to Help Prevent Hiccups in Your Baby

If your baby tends to get hiccups when feeding, make sure he or she is calm and not overly hungry when you feed her. Because excitement or stress is thought to play a part in triggering hiccups in some cases, this might decrease the chances of hiccupping during feeds.

If you think reflux might also be a factor, preventive measures like giving smaller but more frequent feeds might also help prevent spells of reflux and hiccups triggered by an over-full tummy.

Your health visitor or doctor can also offer guidance and reassurance about what to do to help prevent hiccups some of the time.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Hiccups happen when the diaphragm suddenly and involuntarily contracts and a sudden force of air hits the vocal cords. In response, the vocal cords close quickly, making the ‘hiccup’ sound. Hiccups are quite normal and common in newborns and babies as well as in adults.
  • The causes of hiccups aren’t fully understood, but it’s thought that eating too fast could be a possible trigger. Hiccups can also be a symptom of reflux in babies, which is more likely to occur when your little one has a full tummy.
  • If your baby gets the hiccups around feeding times, try changing feeding position and make sure your baby is calm during feeds. The hiccups will usually go away on their own.

The Bottom Line

Your baby will likely get hiccups from time to time, and it’s usually not something to worry about. In fact, you might find that little ‘hicc’ sound quite cute. What you can try is to slow down your baby’s feeds and make sure that he or she is feeling calm during feeds. When hiccups occur, just remember the bout of hiccups will usually go away on its own within a few minutes.

How we wrote this article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.