Hiccups in infants: the causes and effective remedies

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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Contents

  • 1 What causes hiccups in newborns
  • 2 Causes of Hiccups in Infants
  • 3 When hiccups in newborns pass
  • 4 How to stop hiccups in babies
  • 5 What to do in case of hiccups
  • 6 What not to do in case of hiccups

Hiccups in newborns are anything but rare. On the contrary, the typical "hic" affects almost all the little ones and is able to send parents, grandparents and babysitters into the ball. But it is not at all necessary to panic: just as for adults, hiccups are completely normal for infants and there is no reason to be alarmed. So let's see the causes and things to do (and NOT to do) to send it away quickly.



What causes hiccups in newborns

Hiccups are caused by a sudden, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm. The latter is a horizontal muscle that separates the organs of the abdomen from those of the chest. It is a completely physiological condition, which already develops during pregnancy. How many of you have experienced the strange sensation of hearing the fetus "sobbing" in the belly? Those rhythmic and cadenced taps, always perceptible in the same point, are precisely those of hiccups.

Causes of Hiccups in Infants

The causes of hiccups in newborns can be different:

  • sucking too fast: when the baby sucks very quickly (whether it is breastfeeding or with formula milk) it happens that he swallows a lot of air, which causes the diaphragm to contract and, consequently, to hiccups.
  • feeling cold: for example, undressing him to change his diaper or to take a bath can make him cold and cause hiccups.
  • bottle cooling: the reason is the same as in the previous point. Keeping milk at a constant temperature is important. If the feed goes on for a long time, one idea is to add a little warm water to the milk.
  • prolonged crying fits: they make you gulp down a lot of air.

When hiccups in newborns pass

Typically, hiccups in infants go away within a very short time, which is a few minutes. If you think the child is upset, this is usually not the case. Only if it lasts a long time, the little one can show signs of intolerance. In fact, a very prolonged hiccup over time could be a sign of something wrong. If it goes on without interruption for many hours, it is worth talking to the pediatrician: it could be gastroesophageal reflux.



How to make babies pass hiccups

The "grandmother's remedies" or derived from popular "wisdom", are the masters here. The fact that they have always been tried, with sometimes effective results, does not mean that they should be applied to our little ones. Far from it! In some cases, they should be discouraged. But let's go in order.

What to do in case of hiccups

  • Make sure that the baby does not swallow a lot of air during the feed: this means, for example, that he should not arrive very hungry for the meal. However, it is true that some are always and in any case voracious. In addition to the correct latch on the breast or bottle, try to stop sucking to make him burp mid-feed.
  • Get him to swallow: If hiccups appear at a time when the baby is not eating, you can try latching on to the breast. A little suck will be enough to make the hiccups go away. For bottle-fed babies you can give a teaspoon of warm water (not with the bottle otherwise you risk even more air to pass through).
  • If the child takes the pacifier, it can be offered to him: swallowing, everything should pass.
  • Try to make him sneeze: The sneezing movement is similar to swallowing, so it may be the solution. Try to tickle the little one under the nose.

What not to do in case of hiccups

As mentioned above, forget about some do-it-yourself remedies to stop hiccups in babies: they can be counterproductive, as well as hurting the baby. We mention two above all:


  • do not hold the child's nose: this gesture does not allow the passage of air, so in theory the hiccups should go away and in fact it is a method often used by adults who also benefit from it. The only thing you get with a newborn is to confuse and make him nervous;
  • do not give lemon juice: this is a typical remedy that our mothers and mothers-in-law, "armed" with spoon in hand, suggest to our son's first "hic": "Yes! What do you want two drops to do! ". What we should gently and patiently explain to them is that lemon is too acidic for babies and that it can also be allergenic. Certainly better a little more hiccups.

Text updated on 20 September 2022


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