How to soothe a baby with hiccups: What parents need to know

What experts say you should know about this startling muscle spasm.

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By Kait Hanson

Newborn hiccups can come as a surprise for first time parents, but don’t panic. Hiccups in babies are normal and there is no need to stop them.

In fact, experts suggest letting infant hiccups run their course.

“Hiccups tend to bother parents more than they bother babies,” Dr. Hillary Sismondo, pediatrician and assistant professor at NYITCOM at Arkansas State University, told TODAY Parents. “Many parents worry that their baby is uncomfortable when they have the hiccups. That’s typically not the case.”

Just like in adults, babies have a large muscle between their abdomen and chest called the diaphragm. As the diaphragm moves up and down, it aids in breathing.

“Occasionally, just like other muscles, the diaphragm spasms, causing hiccups,” she said.

While it’s unclear exactly what causes the spasms to occur, Sismondo shared they can often occur for no reason at all, but cautions parents against unproven remedies.

“I have heard of a wide variety of home remedies for hiccups, including sugar, peanut butter, and water,” Sismondo shared. “None of these methods have been proven to work, and they are not safe for infants.”

Sismondo also advises against a common supplement widely used to cure hiccups.

“Many mothers give their babies gripe water to cure hiccups,” Sismondo said. “This method has not been scientifically proven to work. Also, gripe water is a supplement, and as a result, its safety and efficacy are not regulated by the FDA.”

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For parents seeking a technique to soothe a hiccuping baby, Sismondo recommends giving them a pacifier, rubbing their back or rocking them.

To help prevent hiccups, she suggests pacing your baby’s feeds and reading hunger cues.

“After every couple ounces, pause the feed and attempt to burp your baby,” Sismondo explained. “This helps rid the stomach of excess air. Also, hold the bottle so that there is no air in the nipple. Try to pick up on early hunger cues so that you can feed your baby before they become too hungry. When babies are hungry, they tend to feed quickly and swallow excess air.”

Sismondo reiterated that hiccups are of no concern and bother parents much more than they bother infants, but if other symptoms are present, it’s smart to reach out to your pediatrician.

“Many babies will continue to eat, coo, and play while they have hiccups,” she said. “However, if you are concerned regarding the frequency of your baby’s hiccups, or if the hiccups are accompanied by additional symptoms such as discomfort or vomiting, I would consult with your pediatrician.”