Hiccups in newborn babies: causes and how to prevent them
Hiccups are a contraction of the diaphragm that cause an interruption of breathing causing to close the vocal cords and a characteristic noise. Hiccups in newborns babies are very common. According to some studies, 80% of newborns have hiccoughs. They can experience them from inside the mother's womb and their frequency decrease when the baby grows.
Hiccups in babies usually last longer than in adults, they don’t cause pain or discomfort to the baby and usually they disappear on their own after a few minutes. Babies can sometimes fall asleep even before hiccups stop.
Causes of hiccups in newborn babies
Hiccups in newborns babies often happen due to the immaturity of their nervous and digestive systems. Premature babies tend to have more hiccups than term babies and it is common that hiccups decrease when the baby grows.
Hiccups can be caused:
- Swallowing air at the time of feeding (due to a bad position during breastfeeding or due to an inadequates’ pacifier or teat).
- If the baby has eaten too much or he/she is full.
- After a crisis of crying.
- If the baby has regurgitated.
- By temperature changes.
How to prevent hiccups in newborn babies
There is no a formula to avoid hiccups in newborn babies. However, we propose you some ideas that can help you to prevent it:
- Prevent the baby from swallowing air when he/she is eating. We advise you to feed him/her when he/she is calm and he/she don’t suck quickly.
- Take breaks while he/she is eating to remove the gases and to avoid their accumulation.
- Be sure the bottle's teat is always full of milk and it doesn't have air.
- If hiccups appear while the baby is eating, we recommend you to stop until they disappear. It is convenient to change baby's position and try to remove the air that he/she could have swallowed. To do this you can lay the baby on your shoulder and give him/her a soft massage with your hand making small circles on him/her back.
- After the breastfeed you should tried to remove the air inside of the baby by putting him/her in a vertical position for a few minutes.
- Try to avoid sudden temperature changes. You should avoid drafts and dress the baby with the appropriate clothes according to temperature.
When it is convenient to go to the pediatrician if newborn babies have hiccups
According to the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (AEPap) hiccups in newborn babies should not worry you because they are a natural phenomenon that occur frequently and they aren’t a risk to the baby. They don’t cause any pain or discomfort. However, there are some exceptions. It is recommended to go to the pediatrician if you observe the following symptoms:
- Hiccups last more than 3 hours.
- The baby doesn't want to eat.
- If they cause weight loss.
- If hiccups cause discomfort to the baby, causing crying, restlessness or fever.
- If they cause frequent vomiting.
Hiccups in newborn babies are very common and you should not be concern about that, except in the above cases. Over time you will observe that hiccups in your baby will be reduced.
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