Baby hiccups start before your baby is born. Do you remember those cute little movements inside your tummy when you were pregnant? Whilst you may get concerned that something is wrong when your baby first gets the hiccups and you may even have tried to get rid of them, try not to worry…
Infant hiccups are completely fine and there is absolutely no need to make an effort to stop them!
Hiccups after feeding (especially breastfeeding), is one of the most common times for babies and newborns to experience hiccups and is something that can generally be relieved if you gently burp your baby. As startling as your baby’s hiccups may feel at first, they aren’t causing them any harm and are perfectly normal. If your baby’s hiccups are in relation to how you feed your baby, here are a few tips and tricks.
Things to look out for when feeding
Whilst it’s typical that they might have some hiccups after a feed, this could be in relation to how your baby gets their milk. For example, when you feed your baby the hiccups will typically go away after a few minutes or slow pauses – so give it some time. If you are breastfeeding, try slowing down feedings, and stop when they reduce their sucking. If they are making too many slurping noises then it’s probably because your baby is ingesting a lot – and all at once!
If they are swallowing too much air during feedings, check your baby’s bottle to ensure that it isn’t causing too much trapped gas. You could also check their teat, as if it is broken or too fast a flow, this may be causing the milk to flow quite quickly. It’s important to note that they don’t always start from a feeding, so you can let them pass and look at other possible causes.
If your baby becomes extremely uncomfortable and is in obvious pain or consistently hiccups and vomits after feeding, it’s always best to consult your medical professional. This could be a sign of something underlying or requiring more investigation, such as acid reflux.
How can I best support my baby?
It’s absolutely fine to pick up your baby when she cries after eating. In fact, it is suggested that you burp your baby after every feed in order to eliminate any tiny gas bubbles that can build up. Place your baby in an upright position for a few minutes and gently rub in circular movements on their back. This should help to release any trapped gas after eating! It’s also important to do this mid-feed i.e before you continue with latching and feeding again on the second breast or before finishing off the bottle.
Your baby will generally let you know that he’s had enough at each feeding with a quiet alert. I.e they may stop suckling and let go of the breast – or even fall asleep!
Once you are satisfied that your little one has been well fed, try to hold them close to your shoulder for some time after feeding, keeping the hiccupping to a minimum. Some parents worry about disturbing their little one’s sleep if they have fallen asleep on the breast but it is important that you do so. As long as you are using ‘baby friendly’ techniques i.e soft and gentle movements, then your little one should still remain asleep and can easily be transferred.
A dummy can also be a useful tool if your baby needs a little extra comfort after a feed and before settling back into their bed.
1. Take a break in feeding
If your baby is crying with feeding or appears to be in discomfort, they could be consuming too much milk all at once. This is a cue to stop for a moment before finishing off the feed.
If you’re asking yourself, “how do I know my baby is not just full?” gently burp your baby and then proceed to feeding by offering the second breast or offering the remainder of the bottle. You will notice the sound she makes while feeding will change and there will be longer pauses in between suckling. This is a good indication that your baby is getting closer to completing the feed.
2. Burp them during feedings – and after!
It’s normal for a baby to need burping both mid feed and at the end of a feed. When they experience hiccups, you can hold them in an upright position and simply rub their back in circular motions to help relieve any air swallowed during feedings.
3. Wait for up to 20 minutes after each feed
Keeping your little one in a comfortable position for 20-30 minutes after a feed will help them properly digest and pass any extra air. Playing with your baby right after can keep them happy and active but it’s a good idea to avoid any heavy activity with your baby directly afterwards.
4. Find a calm and quiet space
Breastfeeding will work best when you’re completely focused and not doing anything else. If you are out and about, try to locate a calm and comfortable spot a bit before the feed is due. Your baby will generally pick up on your energy, so if you are rushing around and are unable to relax, chances are your baby won’t be able to either. Try to relax before feeding to increase their interest in the feeding and ensure that you can complete a full feed without rushing them.
If you are at home, find your favourite spot in the house and enjoy this moment with your little one.
Will introducing solids help?
Generally people think once the baby is six months old, and they start solid foods, that baby hiccups will more or less subside. That can be true for a lot of cases once your baby matures and they have started on their solid journey.
However, if your baby continues to hiccup after their meals, this could be the result of the way they are eating and/or type of food.
Like milk feeds, it’s important to keep your baby upright for 30 minutes after feedings. You can also offer them a little water with their meals once they are over 6 months, as this can help to aid digestion.
If you’re worried about feedings with frequent burps or that of your baby or child, please consult with your medical professional. This way you can rule out any foods that might be triggering your little one’s response.
Nonetheless, Burping after eating or drinking is not uncommon at all – especially if they are fast eaters. This is where it is up to you to support your little one and the amount they are taking in during mealtimes and remembering to stop for breaks.
A note from the editor
Breastfeeding doesn’t always come easy and it will take time for you to get into the rhythm of feeding your little ones. If you are ever experiencing any concerns or are finding it difficult, there are many great resources available. You can consult with your doctor, midwife, a lactation specialist or many of the wonderful online resources.