Cute baby hiccups: healthy or harmful?

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Hiccups are a normal part of most babies’ lives. In fact, it is quite common for hiccups to occur inside the womb. Additionally, if hiccuping occurred in the womb during your baby’s development, your baby will most likely continue to hiccup after he or she is born.

Why all the baby hiccups?

Hiccups are the result of a spasm in the diaphragm. Following this spasm, your baby experiences a quick and involuntary inhalation. Next, there is a sudden closure of the vocal cords as air is forced through them. This sudden forcing of air creates the brief and rather sharp hiccup sound.

Although hiccups are very common in babies, no one is certain as to why they occur. That said, there are some possible reasons. First, though, it is important to understand that the diaphragm is a muscle. It is located below the lungs and moves up and down as your baby inhales and exhales. In terms of newborns, it is very common for them to experience pauses in their breathing due to some natural disruption of the diaphragm. These pauses are often followed by gasps thought to contribute to hiccuping. A second possible cause is gulping during feedings.

Health concerns

Although adults may find bouts of hiccuping annoying, it seems babies tend to take them in stride. However, it is common for new parents to wonder whether or not hiccups are related to a more serious health issue, such as the following.

1. Tongue tie
Tongue tie is a condition in which the bottom of the tongue’s tip is connected to the floor of the mouth. While hiccuping has been associated with this condition, there is no research to show a causal connection.

2. Reflux
Reflux is the result of the contents in your baby’s stomach rising back into the esophagus, the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It is important to note that reflux is not usually cause for concern as it is a normal part of the physiology of babies. In fact, approximately 80 percent of babies experience reflux.

3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD is a condition similar to reflux in which stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. However, when a baby suffers from GERD, the stomach contents are acidic. Fortunately, GERD is not nearly as common in babies as reflux.

Finally, if your baby experiences hiccups frequently and you are concerned that there may be an underlying cause, you should consult your baby’s doctor.

How to stop hiccups
When it comes to your baby’s hiccups, the best thing to do is to just wait them out as hiccups do not tend to bother infants and stop in a short amount of time. However, you can try the following tips.

– offer a pacifier
– rub your baby’s back to help him or her relax

Prevent hiccups
You may notice your little one tends to hiccup when he or she swallows air during feedings. Some of the following tips might help to reduce this.

– pause for burping
– change feeding positions
– feed smaller amounts more frequently