Uncovering the Mystery: Why Do Babies Have Hiccups?

why do babies have hiccups

As a parent, you may have experienced the adorable and sometimes concerning phenomenon of baby hiccups. These sudden and repetitive contractions of the diaphragm muscles can occur frequently in newborns and infants. While they may seem uncomfortable for your little one, they are generally harmless and will usually resolve on their own.

So, why do babies have hiccups? The answer lies in the physiology of their developing bodies. Read on to learn more about the causes of infant hiccups and the remedies you can try to help soothe your baby.

Key Takeaways:

  • Baby hiccups are common and usually harmless.
  • Hiccups in infants are caused by the immaturity of their diaphragm muscles and the reflex arc involved in hiccups.
  • Common triggers for baby hiccups include overfeeding, swallowing air, sudden temperature changes, and excitement.
  • Practical tips to prevent and relieve baby hiccups include feeding techniques, burping methods, and gentle stimulation.

Baby Hiccups Explained: Understanding the Physiology of Hiccups in Newborns

It’s common for newborns to experience hiccups, often leaving parents puzzled and worried. However, there’s no need for concern, as hiccups in babies are generally harmless. To understand why babies get hiccups, it’s helpful to grasp the physiology behind this reflexive action.

Hiccups occur when the diaphragm muscle contracts involuntarily, causing a sudden intake of breath that closes the vocal cords and produces the familiar “hic” sound. In newborns, this reflexive action is often triggered by the immaturity of their diaphragm muscles, which are still developing and strengthening. This is why hiccups tend to be more common in younger babies.

Another factor that contributes to hiccups in newborns is the reflex arc involved in hiccups. The reflex arc is a neural pathway that triggers an involuntary response, like a knee jerk or eye blink. In response to a stimulus, such as overfeeding or swallowing air, the reflex arc can initiate a hiccup as a reflexive response.

It’s important to note that hiccups in newborns typically resolve on their own and do not require any medical attention. However, if hiccups persist for extended periods or occur excessively, it may be necessary to consult a healthcare professional.

Common Triggers for Baby Hiccups

As a new parent, you may be concerned about the frequent occurrence of hiccups in your baby. While hiccups are generally harmless, they can be uncomfortable and distressing for your little one. Understanding the common triggers for baby hiccups can help you manage and prevent them from occurring.

Overfeeding: One of the most common triggers for baby hiccups is overfeeding. When a baby consumes too much milk, it can cause the stomach to distend and irritate the diaphragm muscle, leading to hiccups. To prevent overfeeding, ensure that you follow a feeding schedule and monitor your baby’s cues to avoid feeding too much at once.

Swallowing air: Babies can swallow air while feeding or crying, which can lead to hiccups. To prevent this, try to burp your baby frequently during and after feeding, and make sure your baby is comfortably positioned while feeding.

Sudden temperature changes: Exposure to sudden changes in temperature can also trigger hiccups in babies. Ensure that your baby is dressed appropriately for the weather and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures.

Excitement: Excessive excitement or stimulation can also cause hiccups in babies. Try to keep your baby calm and avoid overstimulation, especially during the times when they are most prone to hiccups.

Managing hiccups in infants can be a simple task once you understand the common triggers and take steps to prevent them. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your baby is comfortable and happy, free from the discomfort and unsettling feeling of hiccups.

How to Prevent Baby Hiccups

Experiencing hiccups can be distressing for babies and worrisome for parents. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to minimize the occurrence of hiccups in your little one.

  1. Feed your baby effectively: Overfeeding or feeding too quickly can lead to hiccups in babies. Try to feed your baby in a calm and relaxed setting, and avoid rushing the feeding process. Additionally, make sure your baby is in a comfortable position while feeding, with their head elevated slightly.
  2. Burp your baby frequently: Burping helps release any trapped air in your baby’s stomach, which can contribute to hiccups. Burp your baby after every feeding or every few minutes during feeding to help prevent hiccups.
  3. Avoid sudden changes in temperature: Sudden temperature changes, such as moving your baby from a warm room to a cold one, can trigger hiccups. Keep your baby in a comfortable temperature and avoid any sudden changes.
  4. Minimize excitement: Excitement or stimulation can lead to hiccups in babies. Try to keep your baby calm and relaxed, especially during feeding and before sleep. Avoid any sudden movements or loud noises that may startle your baby.

By following these tips, you can help prevent the occurrence of hiccups in your baby and promote a more comfortable and peaceful experience for them.

Remedies to Relieve Baby Hiccups

As mentioned earlier, baby hiccups are usually harmless and tend to go away on their own. However, if you’re looking for ways to help relieve your baby’s hiccups, there are several remedies you can try:

  1. Gentle Stimulation: Gently patting or rubbing your baby’s back can help stimulate their diaphragm and ease their hiccups.
  2. Feeding Adjustments: It may help to change your baby’s feeding position or pace to prevent them from swallowing air, which can trigger hiccups. You could also try feeding your baby smaller, more frequent meals instead of one large feeding.
  3. Positional Changes: Holding your baby upright or laying them on their stomach can help reduce hiccups. Be sure to supervise your baby if you choose to lay them on their stomach, and never leave them unattended.

If your baby’s hiccups persist or seem to be causing them discomfort, you can also try giving them a small amount of water or breast milk to drink. This can help calm their diaphragm muscles and stop the hiccups.

It’s important to note that some remedies, such as startling your baby or pulling on their tongue, can actually do more harm than good. Avoid using these methods, as they can potentially cause injury or distress to your baby.

If your baby’s hiccups continue for an extended period of time or are accompanied by other symptoms, you should consult a healthcare professional for further advice.

Seeking Medical Advice for Persistent Hiccups

While hiccups are a normal occurrence in babies, there may be instances where you should consult a healthcare professional if your baby’s hiccups persist or cause discomfort. It is recommended to seek medical advice if:

  • Your baby has hiccups for more than a few hours.
  • Your baby’s hiccups are accompanied by vomiting or spitting up.
  • Your baby seems to be in pain or discomfort during hiccups.
  • Your baby is having trouble breathing or becomes cyanotic (turning blue).

Remember, as a parent, it’s important to trust your instincts and seek medical attention if you’re ever concerned about your baby’s health.

Differentiating Hiccups from Other Conditions

Baby hiccups can sometimes be mistaken for other conditions, such as reflux or colic, but there are certain characteristics that can help distinguish hiccups from other issues.

Firstly, hiccups are typically short-lived and occur in quick, rhythmic bursts, whereas reflux or colic symptoms may persist for longer periods of time.

Secondly, hiccups often do not cause discomfort or distress to the baby, whereas reflux or colic symptoms may result in fussiness, crying, or arching of the back.

If you are unsure whether your baby is experiencing hiccups or another condition, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Understanding Hiccups in Preterm Babies

Preterm babies are those born before the 37th week of pregnancy, and they may have a higher likelihood of experiencing hiccups due to their underdeveloped diaphragm muscles. However, hiccups in preterm babies are usually not a cause for concern.

It is important to note that preterm babies may be more prone to other medical issues that may require medical attention, such as respiratory distress syndrome or apnea of prematurity. Therefore, if you have any concerns about your preterm baby’s health, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider.

If your preterm baby experiences frequent and severe hiccups, your healthcare provider may recommend feeding adjustments or medication to alleviate the symptoms. However, in most cases, hiccups in preterm babies will resolve on their own as the baby’s diaphragm muscles mature.

It is crucial for parents of preterm babies to follow their healthcare provider’s instructions regarding feeding and other care practices to ensure the baby’s optimal health and development.

Common Misconceptions About Baby Hiccups

It’s common for parents to have misconceptions about why their babies get hiccups. Here are some myths that have been debunked:

  1. Myth: Hiccups are dangerous for babies.
    Fact: Hiccups are a normal and common occurrence for babies, and they are generally not a cause for concern unless they are accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting or fever.
  2. Myth: Hiccups mean your baby is hungry.
    Fact: While hiccups can be brought on by overfeeding or feeding too quickly, they are not a reliable indicator of hunger. Babies can get hiccups even when they’re not hungry.
  3. Myth: Hiccups can be cured by scaring the baby.
    Fact: Scaring a baby is not an effective way to cure hiccups and can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for the baby. Gentle remedies like adjusting feeding techniques or holding the baby in a different position are usually more effective.
  4. Myth: Hiccups can cause SIDS.
    Fact: There is no evidence to suggest that hiccups can cause SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). SIDS is a complex and multifactorial condition that is not fully understood, but it is not linked to hiccups.
  5. Myth: Hiccups only happen after a baby eats.
    Fact: While feeding can be a common trigger for hiccups, they can also happen spontaneously due to a variety of factors, such as excitement, temperature changes, or gastroesophageal reflux.

By understanding the truth about baby hiccups and dispelling these common misconceptions, parents can confidently manage and soothe their baby during a bout of hiccups without unnecessary concerns or worries.

The Role of Hiccups in Baby Development

While hiccups may seem like a nuisance, they can actually play a role in your baby’s development. Hiccups occur when the diaphragm muscles and nerves that control breathing undergo a sudden, involuntary contraction. This reflex arc is important for training the respiratory system and strengthening the muscles needed for breathing.

Some experts suggest that hiccups may also help babies learn how to suck and coordinate their swallowing reflex. This can be particularly beneficial for premature babies who may have underdeveloped sucking reflexes.

However, it is important to note that excessive hiccups or hiccups that cause discomfort to the baby should still be monitored and managed, as they may indicate an underlying issue.

Tips for Soothing a Baby during Hiccups

Watching your little one hiccup can be a distressing experience for parents, but there are ways to help soothe them. Here are some tips for calming your baby during a bout of hiccups:

  • Patting: Gently pat your baby’s back or rub their tummy to create a soothing rhythm.
  • Holding: Hold your baby close and rock them gently to help calm their hiccups.
  • Breastfeeding: If your baby is hungry, breastfeeding can help calm their hiccups as well as their hunger.
  • Distractions: Try to distract your baby with a toy or a game to take their mind off the hiccups.

Remember to stay calm and patient during your baby’s hiccups. The more relaxed you are, the more likely your baby will be to settle down.

Parents’ Experiences with Baby Hiccups

As a new parent, you may find yourself puzzled by your baby’s hiccups and wondering if they are normal. You’re not alone! Many parents have experienced the same confusion and curiosity over their babies’ hiccups.

One mom shared her experience with her newborn’s frequent hiccups, stating, “At first, I was worried that my baby was uncomfortable or in pain, but then I learned that hiccups are common in babies and usually nothing to worry about.” Another dad explained, “My son’s hiccups always seemed to happen after a feeding, so I started paying closer attention to how much he was eating and how quickly. Once I adjusted his feeding schedule, the hiccups became less frequent.”

Although baby hiccups can be a source of concern for new parents, hearing about other parents’ experiences can often provide reassurance and helpful tips. Remember, every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

Coping with Frequent Hiccups in Babies

If your baby experiences hiccups frequently, it can be a cause for concern and discomfort for both you and your little one. However, there are several strategies you can employ to help cope with frequent baby hiccups.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Adjust feeding techniques: If overfeeding or swallowing air is a trigger for your baby’s hiccups, try adjusting the way you feed them. Consider smaller, more frequent feedings or holding your baby in a more upright position during feedings.
  • Burp frequently: Make sure to burp your baby regularly during and after feedings to release any trapped air that could potentially cause hiccups.
  • Minimize excitement: Often, sudden excitement or stimulation can trigger hiccups in babies. Try to keep your baby calm and relaxed, especially during and after feedings.
  • Create a peaceful environment: Ensure your baby’s sleeping area is quiet and peaceful, which can help promote relaxation and reduce the likelihood of hiccups.
  • Consult with a healthcare professional: If your baby’s hiccups persist or are accompanied by other symptoms, it may be necessary to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical concerns.

Remember, frequent hiccups in babies are often a normal and harmless occurrence. However, by implementing these coping strategies, you can help minimize their occurrence and provide your little one with more comfort.

Additional Resources and Information

If you want to learn more about baby hiccups, there are several resources available to you beyond this article. Here are some further reading recommendations:

  1. The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by William Sears, M.D. and Martha Sears, R.N.
  2. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D.
  3. Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year by Denise Fields and Ari Brown, M.D.

In addition to these books, there are several websites and online communities that can provide helpful information and support for managing baby hiccups. Here are some baby hiccups resources to check out:

  • BabyCenter provides a comprehensive guide to baby hiccups, including common causes and remedies.
  • Parents offers expert advice on dealing with hiccups in babies, including tips for prevention and relief.
  • What to Expect provides a detailed explanation of the science behind baby hiccups and how to manage them.

Remember, while hiccups can be a normal and harmless part of a baby’s development, it’s important to pay attention to your baby’s hiccups and seek medical advice if they persist or cause discomfort. With the right knowledge and resources, you can confidently manage your baby’s hiccups and ensure their health and well-being.


In conclusion, baby hiccups may seem like a mysterious and occasionally frustrating phenomenon, but they are a natural and common occurrence in infants. Understanding the causes and triggers of baby hiccups can help parents manage and prevent them, ensuring a more comfortable experience for both the baby and the parents.

Remember to remain calm and patient during bouts of hiccups, as they typically do not require medical attention and will pass on their own. However, if hiccups persist or cause your baby discomfort, it is always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional.

By implementing the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can help minimize the occurrence of hiccups and provide soothing relief for your baby when they do occur. Don’t forget to seek out additional resources and support if needed, as there are many resources available for parents dealing with baby hiccups.

Overall, understanding and managing baby hiccups is an important aspect of early infant care, and with the right knowledge and techniques, you can ensure a happier and more comfortable experience for both you and your baby.


Q: Why do babies have hiccups?

A: Baby hiccups are a common occurrence and can be attributed to the immaturity of their diaphragm muscles and the reflex arc involved in hiccups.

Q: What are the common triggers for baby hiccups?

A: Common triggers for baby hiccups include overfeeding, swallowing air, sudden temperature changes, and excitement.

Q: How can I prevent baby hiccups?

A: To prevent baby hiccups, you can employ techniques such as proper feeding techniques, burping methods, and creating a calm environment.

Q: What are some remedies to relieve baby hiccups?

A: Remedies to relieve baby hiccups include gentle stimulation, feeding adjustments, and positional changes.

Q: When should I seek medical advice for persistent hiccups in my baby?

A: If baby hiccups persist or cause discomfort to your baby, it may be necessary to consult a healthcare professional.

Q: How can I differentiate hiccups from other conditions?

A: To distinguish baby hiccups from other common conditions such as reflux or colic, look out for the unique characteristics of hiccups.

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