Getting Rid Of A Baby's Hiccups: 7 Things You Should Never Do To "Help"

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Hiccups are a normal and natural part of your baby's development. Even before they were born, they were hiccuping in utero (which you probably felt at some point). But it's different when you actually see your newborn get a fit of hiccups: It looks like their whole body is spasming, and that can be worrying. Especially if it's happening multiple times a day. But there are some things you should never do to try to get rid of your baby's hiccups.

But first: what are hiccups, anyway? Turns out, they're very mysterious — no one is quite sure why they happen, said Today's Parent. One theory is that they act as a "burping mechanism" to help babies take in more milk, explained the site. And occasionally they can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, according to The Bump.

But even though we don't understand the cause, we know what hiccups are: "They're sudden contractions of the diaphragm caused by irritation or stimulation of the muscle," explained BabyCenter, and it's very common for babies to get them after or during feeding.

But whatever causes hiccups, they're very rarely anything to worry about. Even though you might hate the feeling of hiccups when you get them, that doesn't mean your baby feels the same way, explained Healthline. Not only do hiccups have very little effect on a baby's breathing, but many babies can sleep peacefully right through them. (Of course, if you're worried, or if the hiccups seem to be causing your baby distress, then do contact your pediatrician.)

So the best advice is to just wait it out and let the hiccups run their course. But if you're still determined to try and get them to stop, just make sure you're not trying any of these tactics.

Don't startle or scare them

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Maybe you like to use this technique on others, or maybe it's been used on you. But it's not a good idea to try to scare the hiccups out of your baby by startling them with a sudden noise. Not only is it pretty unpleasant for your baby, but “[r]eally, none of that stuff works,” Robin Jacobson, MD, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, told The Bump.

Don't withhold their pacifier

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It might seem counterintuitive to stick a pacifier in the mouth of your hiccuping infant. But if the hiccups come on seemingly randomly (not as a result of feeding) a pacifier can be a good cure, explained Healthline. The action of sucking can help relax the diaphragm and end the hiccups.

Don't put a wet cloth on their forehead

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This is another one of those longstanding home remedies for hiccups. But putting a wet cloth on the baby's forehead just isn't going to do anything, explained The Bump. At least, not as far as their hiccups are concerned. It might annoy them or make them cold, I guess, but the hiccups will continue.

Don't continue feeding

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If the hiccups come on while you're feeding your baby, take a break, sit them upright, and rub their back, recommended Mom Tricks. The idea is to get your baby to feel relaxed, which should have a calming effect on their diaphragm, and eventually end the hiccups. And by keeping them upright, you'll keep any excess air toward the top of their stomach, which makes burping a lot easier, explained the site.

Don't smack their back

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This is another remedy often tried by adults, and if you've found it to work for yourself, great. But do not try it on your little one. A baby's bones are delicate, and too much force could result in a serious injury, according to FirstCry. But if you're so inspired, do feel free to try gently patting their back.

Don't stop their breathing

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Holding my breath is my go-to remedy for hiccups. I used to be convinced that it worked — something about resetting the rhythm of my diaphragm, I think — though now I'm not so sure. At any rate, you should absolutely never try to stop your baby's breathing for them in an attempt to stop their hiccups. "It’s dangerous — plain and simple," according to The Bump.

Don't pull their tongue

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Someone may have told you that you can stop your baby's hiccups by pulling on their tongue while pressing on their forehead or the soft spot on their head. But don't. It can hurt your baby, and there's no proof that this method works, advised Baby Center. “Overall the best thing to do is to wait it out and rest assured that the hiccups will resolve on their own,” Christal-Joy Forgenie, MD, a pediatrician in private practice in New York City, told The Bump.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.