Have you ever wondered what causes hiccups in babies? It can be so mind-disturbing when you are admiring your cute baby and all of a sudden he or she just begins to hiccup. Especially when it becomes intense and frequent, as a mother, this experience can make you to become unsettled and even helpless sometimes. While it is a normal experience, it is not strange that quite a number of mothers don't know what to do to stop it and the best ways to handle it. There are even those who don't know how to prevent it from happening. This is why in this article, we take a look at the different causes or reasons why babies hiccup. Then, apart from that, we also consider how to get rid of it each time it occurs.
Hiccups in babies what does it mean?
In looking at hiccups meaning, they have to do with contractions that suddenly take place in the diaphragm as a result of a stimulation or an irritation of the muscle. This irritation, most times, happens as a result of the food or contents in the stomach flowing back into the oesophagus. When this takes place, the acid triggers the cells in the nerves and makes it flutter in the diaphragm. Eventually, this brings about what is called hiccup.
Hiccup in babies is a common experience that happens especially when they are under the age of one. According to a study carried out in 2012, it was explained that hiccups are an experience that happens to everyone at different times throughout their lifetime. It also went on to state that hiccups seem to be experienced by most mammals including rats, cats, and rabbits. Pregnant women can also feel it happening to the fetus in them. But then, it is most pronounced among newborns. As a result of this, it is possible for them to spend up to 2.5% of their time hiccupping.
However, it is worth noting that while hiccupping is can be experienced by any newborn, it is really nothing to worry about it. The only period when it should become a concern is when it continues for more than a period of 48 hours. More so, when it is becoming a frequent and recurring experience, it is possible that the child is suffering from a disease known as the gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Apart from hiccups, other symptoms that GERD can even cause to adults are heartburn in pregnant women or acid indigestion.
Baby hiccups in the womb
Apart from a newborn hiccupping, another thing to know about this experience is that it is possible for a baby in the womb (fetus) to hiccup as well. When we say that baby in the womb hiccups or practices what is known as a fetal hiccup, it talks about the little movements that occur in the diaphragm of the baby. This happens as she starts to practice how to breathe. By the time the baby practices inhaling, what enters into her lungs is amniotic fluid. Then, once this happens, the developing diaphragm will contract thereby leading to the case of hiccups.
You may begin to wonder what causes hiccups in the womb. Well, the thing is when the baby hiccups in the womb, it is a sign that the respiratory and nervous systems of the baby are developing. Another beautiful sign that it shows is that the baby has started practising how to suck and even yawn, all of which are exercises that she will carry out by the time she is born.
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Causes of hiccups
Hiccups have been traced to feeding in babies, especially when they are breastfeeding or after feeding. This is why you will sometimes see newborn hiccups after breastfeeding. On the other hand, it is also noteworthy that feeding is not the only cause of hiccups in babies; there are other factors responsible for it.
As we consider what causes hiccups, don't forget as said earlier that hiccups in newborns can be normal. The only time it can become a concern is when it lasts for more than 48 hours or when it is becoming too frequent. So, other causes of hiccups are:
- When the baby gulps too much of air. When the baby overfeeds and also swallows too much air, it may lead to hiccupping.
- If the baby is Asthmatic.
- When the temperature of the baby drops, the muscles may contract and then lead to hiccups.
- Babies suffering from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Any baby with this disease will hiccup more frequently than normal.
How do you get rid of a baby's hiccups?
Unfortunately, there are several dangerous ways that some mothers follow while they are trying to stop the hiccups in their baby which can be harmful to them. There are mothers who make attempt to startle their baby while there are those that try to press on the innocent baby's eyeballs. It is even possible that you find some mothers who will try to pull the tongue of their baby. All these remedies can be detrimental to the health of the baby.
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However, while the hiccups are natural and will go after a space of time, the following are some of the steps that you can follow when you are considering how to stop baby hiccups after feeding:
1. Take a break to burp the baby
This method will work well especially when the baby has taken too much of air in. Because of the air in his stomach, it can lead to what is known as spasm which is caused by a push on the diaphragm. What you need to do is to take a break from feeding the baby and make him burp so as to reduce the amount of air that has filled his stomach.
2. Hold the baby upright after feeding
At least, for about 15 minutes after you have fed the baby, let him maintain an upright position. This will enable the diaphragm to stay in its rightful position to prevent any muscle that may want to flutter. You can even pat him on the back gently. It has a way of making the diaphragm to relax.
3. Use gripe water
Although, it is yet to be proven scientifically that gripe water can treat gastrointestinal problems in babies, yet, it can be used to solve issues that deal with gastric discomfort. To do this, just dilute the gripe water with some clean water for the baby. Gripe water has to do with the mixture of herbs and water. The herbs are a combination of ginger, fennel, chamomile, and cinnamon.
4. Try out a pacifier
Allowing your baby to suck on a pacifier is another way of making the diaphragm to relax and then stop the hiccupping.
5. Make the baby feed calmly
While the baby is feeding, make effort to ensure that he does that without any form of distractions. Also, let him feed calmly. This will avoid a rush in the intake of the milk or whatever you are feeding him with, and air which can bring about the hiccups.
6. Rub the back of the baby
Gently massage the back of the baby and give him some time to relax. However, make sure that if you are making him face down, you place him somewhere soft like a mattress. Then you can rock him back and forth so as to make the spasm stop.
How to prevent hiccups from occurring
Even though hiccups are reflex actions that are unstoppable, yet, by putting the following steps into practice, you can reduce the frequency of their happenings.
- Feed your baby before he gets hungry. Don't wait until he becomes so hunger which may make him rush while sucking. When you feed him consistently, it will enable him to feed calmly.
- Don't overfeed him. Whenever you have to feed him, let him do so in bits. Make him take small quantities at frequent times. This is safer for him.
- Ensure that he sits uprightly after you have fed him for about half an hour. This will aid his digestion process and avoid any contraction that may want to occur in his diaphragm.
- Make sure that the mouth of your baby latches over the whole nipple when he is feeding.
- Position the feeding bottle in a way that will prevent air from coming near the teat.
While hiccups in babies cannot be prevented, the information shared so far will help you to handle the situation in a proper way whenever it happens. At least, with this information at your disposal, you will be able to handle the situation without any fret.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional advice on handling hiccups in babies. All the content including text, graphics, images, and information contained on or available through this page is for general information purposes only.