Baby Hiccups Treatment

Overview

Hiccups are annoying, occasionally embarrassing and sometimes difficult to cure. They are also common, especially in infants and children. Except in rare cases, hiccups are temporary and harmless. The most effective treatment is waiting until the hiccups disappear on their own, but simple home remedies may help relieve your baby of the spasms.

What Are Hiccups?

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm, the large muscle separating the chest and abdominal cavities, spasms, according to the Children, Youth and Women’s Health Services website. When it spasms, the diaphragm tightens and causes the lungs to suck in air. At the same time, the epiglottis snaps closed over the windpipe, creating the characteristic “hic” sound.

Causes

Hiccups in babies usually result when the baby swallows too much air while eating, according to the My Child Health website. Hiccups may also occur if your baby drinks too quickly, has indigestion or is overtired. Sudden changes in temperature may also stimulate hiccups. Less commonly, hiccups in babies are caused by gastroesophageal reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when stomach acid is regurgitated into the esophagus. In some cases, hiccups have no obvious cause.

Prevalence

Everyone gets hiccups at one time or another. Hiccups are especially common in infants and toddlers, and even occur while the baby is still in the womb, according to the Children, Youth and Women’s Health Services website. Hiccups are normal and harmless except in rare cases. Hiccups rarely signal an underlying health condition, but in these cases other symptoms will also be present.

Remedies

Hiccups typically last up to 10 minutes, but they may persist for hours. The most effective treatment is to do nothing and wait for the hiccups to end on their own. If your baby seems distressed or annoyed by the hiccups, My Child Health recommends holding your baby on your shoulder and patting his back to stimulate him to burp. If hiccups persist, give your baby anise water, made by mixing 1 tbs. of anise seeds in a cup of hot water. Give the baby a tablespoon at a time, as needed. If your baby is eating solid food, a small amount of sugar on her tongue distracts the nerves and helps interrupt the spasms.

When to See a Doctor

If your baby has frequent hiccups, note when they occur. Hiccups that consistently occur after feeding may indicate you are overfeeding your baby, according to MotherNature.com. Check the nipple on your baby’s bottle to ensure the opening is not too big that it is letting in excess air. When the bottle is upside down, the milk should dribble out, not flow. If hiccups persist longer than a day, check with your baby’s physician.

About this Author

Cheryl Jones, a medical writer for 25 years, holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in biology from New Jersey’s Glassboro State College. Jones assists researchers writing articles for medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and Headache. Her news articles have appeared in specialty publications such as Infectious Diseases in Children, Ocular Surgery News and Hem/Onc Today.