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Q&A: Why Does My Baby Hiccup So Much?

Question: This may sound silly, but why does my baby hiccup so much? Sometimes I’m afraid he’s choking. Is regular hiccupping normal?

Answer: Regular hiccupping is definitely normal and nothing to be concerned about. When I am working with a new mom and she is nervous about her baby’s hiccups, I ask her to think about whether the baby had them while she was pregnant. Usually a smile melts across her face remembering those in-utero hiccup sessions!

During pregnancy, Mom may notice feeling regular, rhythmic movements that last from a few minutes up to as long as 30 minutes. These hiccups can begin as early as the first trimester, but most moms don’t become aware of them until the baby gets bigger—generally in the second trimester.

Why Baby Hiccups
Hiccups occur when the diaphragm (the muscle that helps us to breathe) contacts forcefully. The cause or reason that babies hiccup so much is not known. One theory about in-utero hiccups suggests that this regular, rhythmic diaphragm workout may help Baby with breathing when she’s born.

In general, hiccups seem to bother parents more than they bother the baby. If the hiccups are prolonged and are interrupting a feeding, some babies will start to fuss. But generally, as the baby gets older, the sessions will space out. Usually by a year of life they will be much less frequent. Some babies that have gastroesophogeal reflux (GER) may be more prone to hiccups.

Dealing with Baby’s Hiccups
If you really want to curb Baby’s hiccups, some things to try include:

  • Letting her feed at the breast or taking sips from a cup or bottle. This can sometimes help the diaphragm to relax.
  • Sitting the baby up and comforting her until they pass.

In general, the key to getting rid of hiccups is time. Hiccups will pass, and tricks will not usually work to make them go away. If you still have concerns about your baby, ask her pediatrician.

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