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Did your baby do something that confused you…again?
There are a lot of things that can shock, surprise, scare, or confuse you when you’re taking care of an infant, especially if you are a first-time parent.
For instance, when you are talking to them, it just seems like they understand what you’re saying.
They fart a lot. If an adult does this just as often, it’d be weird. But it’s a baby, so it’s cute.
Another thing that elicits a myriad of responses from parents is baby hiccups.
I’ve met a lot of new moms and most of them panic when their children are having hiccups. Imagine a tiny body making that sudden involuntary movement. Something must be wrong, right?
But what really are hiccups? Why do they happen? And how can you prevent them?
These are just a few of the questions we’re going to tackle in this article.
Hiccups in babies, what does it mean?
A hiccup is what happens when the diaphragm does a sudden jump that causes the baby’s vocal cords to close for a moment.
Hiccups are common in babies. In fact, they even start having baby hiccups in the womb. They range from once in a while to more for a few minutes.
They are a reflex, just like other baby reflexes that are completely normal.
But if you notice that your baby is having hiccups for an awfully long time, there may be an underlying medical reason. For that, I recommend you to visit a doctor.
What causes them?
There are several possible reasons why babies have hiccups. If it’s a large meal, there usually will be baby hiccups after feeding.
Another reason is the sudden change in temperature. If it suddenly gets cold, this can cause spasms in your baby’s diaphragms. If your baby swallows too much air or gets too excited, it may also lead to these reflexes.
Are baby hiccups harmful?
As mentioned above, hiccups are pretty normal in babies aging 12 months old and younger. They are a reflex, just like other baby reflexes that are completely normal.
Is there a relationship between baby hiccups and certain medical conditions?
Despite being a normal involuntary reflex, hiccups can also be linked to some medical issues. They can be symptoms of illnesses or the effects of certain conditions.
For example, although not a disease or anything harmful, colic can cause frequent hiccups in babies. The same goes if the baby has silent reflux.
Another possible medical reason is the underdevelopment of the baby’s digestive system or the muscle separating their stomach and esophagus.
Albeit posing little to no threat, hiccups can also be a complication after your baby has undergone an operation.
When should you be alarmed?
You should be alarmed if you’ve been dealing with baby hiccups for 20 minutes or more. Another indication that there’s something wrong is your baby’s expression or overall disposition when hiccupping. If you can see that they are agitated or they express extreme discomfort, the hiccups could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.
Things NOT to do when your baby is having hiccups
Of course, as parents, I understand that there’s nothing you want more than to ease the discomfort caused by the hiccups. However, there are things that you shouldn’t do in case they occur.
- Don’t give your baby water, lemon, butter, or sugar.
- Don’t make them breathe into some paper bag
- Don’t make them sniff pepper
- Don’t pull your baby’s tongue (seriously, what’s the logic behind this myth?)
- Don’t startle your baby (since we’re here, don’t get startled as well
The above are things that mothers commonly do when their babies have a hiccup episode. I beg of you to please don’t do any of these. These are myths that doctors have been trying to discourage moms from doing. If you think your baby’s hiccups have already reached an alarming rate, always approach a professional first.
How do you get rid of a baby’s hiccups?
Here are things that can help you minimize hiccups.
1. Pace your baby’s feeding
When the baby’s stomach is full, there’s a big chance that it can result in diaphragm spasms or hiccups. Pacing can give their stomach ample time to process food. You can do it in both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
For the latter, you can pause for a while after your baby has fed from one of your breasts before offering them the other. You can play with your baby for a while or you can try to position them upright to make them burp.
For moms who bottle-feed, there is this one article you can refer to if you want to know more about paced bottle feeding.
2. Try to feed the baby in an upright position (or if you’re breastfeeding, try out other positions)
We’ve always had that default image in our minds where the mother is sitting upright and the baby is suckling from one of her breasts and all is well, in order, and beautiful. But the truth is, there are a lot of breastfeeding positions out there and this article tells you all about them.
Being in the right posture can prevent the baby from having frequent hiccups. Also, make sure that you give your baby enough time after feeding before you put them on their tummy.
3. Check if your baby’s diaper is too tight
In some cases, too tight diapers or waistband can cause hiccups. These can also result in other problems such as rashes. Check and make sure that the tightness is just right.
Normally, hiccups shouldn’t alarm you as they are completely normal. Over time, your baby’s diaphragm will develop more, lessening the occurrence of such reflexes.
If you have more questions about baby hiccups or there’s something you want to share with other moms and dads, feel free to leave a comment below.