Hiccups are caused by a sudden involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. They are quite common in newborns and are usually harmless. Though they do not bother the child so much, hiccups seem to be a major concern for parents. This condition usually disappears within a few minutes and their frequency reduces as the child grows older. However, if the hiccups are frequent and persistent in nature, they should be brought to the notice of a pediatrician in order to rule out the possibility of any underlying disorder.
What Causes Hiccups in Children?
Hiccups, as has been mentioned earlier, are caused by the contraction of the diaphragm which is located at the bottom of the ribcage. The diaphragm is a muscle that relaxes and contracts alternately to allow breathing. Hiccups come about due to the spasms of this muscle, which allows air to enter the lungs quickly and closes the epiglottis. This produces the sound that people make while hiccuping. Babies can experience them when they swallow air while feeding. This can happen when they feed too fast. Another reason for a bout of hiccups could be a sudden drop in temperature of the body. Many people, on the other hand, believe that babies can get this condition due to over feeding. Babies may get hiccups even before their birth, i.e. even fetuses can hiccup, which is known as fetal hiccups.
Ways to Stop Hiccups
Most often, this condition disappears within a couple of minutes. So, it is advised that the parents wait for a few minutes before trying to cure the same. If the baby continues to hiccup for more than a few minutes, then hold the baby upright and burp him/her. Gently pat on the back of your baby in order to help him/her burp. If it is caused due to swallowing of air, then burping will help to cure it by releasing the pressure on the stomach. Babies should not be fed while they are having hiccups.
In many instances, changing the position of feeding can also help in alleviating hiccups. If changing the position fails to cure hiccups, then you can try gripe water. Gripe water is considered as a natural remedy for this condition. Apart from gripe water, sugar water can also be considered as an effective remedy. Just give a sip of sugar water to your baby to cure this condition. Many people have also observed that even giving a pacifier to the baby or something else to suck on can help to get rid of hiccups.
If your child burps frequently while feeding, then check the nipple of the bottle. The nipple size of the bottle should be right, in order to prevent your child from swallowing air. To check whether the nipple size of the bottle is right, fill the bottle with milk or baby formula and then turn it upside down. If the formula or milk comes out in continuous drops, then the nipple size is right. However, if the formula or milk comes out in a stream or does not drip at all, then change the nipple of the bottle.
If your baby is frequently experiencing this condition, or it lasts for a long time, then consider consulting a physician. It is quite rare that newborns may develop frequent hiccups due to a condition known as newborn acid reflux or GERD, where the stomach content regurgitates into the esophagus. So, if your child hiccups all the time, and frequent hiccups are causing problems in feeding and also affecting his or her sleep patterns, it's advisable to consult a pediatrician immediately. This would not only ensure proper newborn hiccups treatment, but will also help to rule out the possibility of acid reflux disease.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any ay attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.