Shannon Evans

The Science Behind Your Baby's Hiccups

Being pregnant, and then actually having a baby, will open up your eyes to the human body in more ways than you ever thought possible. Suddenly all the parts and functions you've always taken for granted become questions that keep you awake at night. Seemingly unimportant thoughts like why your baby gets the hiccups, for instance, can become obsessively lodged in your brain until it's satisfied with an answer. If that's you, take heart: I'm here for you.

In an interview with Romper, Jamie O'Day, co-owner of Boston NAPS, a private nursing company, says babies get hiccups in response to stimulation of the diaphragm. This stimulation, O'Day explains, can be caused by a multitude of things, including feeding (breast or bottle), laughing, or crying.

"Because of this stimulus response, I often describe hiccups to new parents as a reflex, in that the diaphragm is simply practicing expanding and contracting," she says. As prone as new parents are to worry and overanalyze their baby's bodily functions, in her practice, O'Day assures her clients that even frequent hiccups are perfectly normal and no cause for concern.

Normal or not, moms usually want to do everything within their power to ease any discomfort little ones are feeling. So what's the best way to treat infant hiccups? Be sure to avoid overfeeding and reflux by offering smaller, more frequent feedings rather than larger and longer ones, The Bump noted. After each feeding, take care to burp your baby for several minutes, giving them enough time to let the air come up and out. If they seem to be taking in too much air during a feeding, consider tweaking their latch (if breastfeeding) or making sure the air in a bottle is at the bottom and not near the nipple.

Since small bouts of hiccups are perfectly normal in our babes, the best thing to do, after making any necessary changes in feeding, is simply to relax and know that they will outgrow it in time. For now, you might as well enjoy how cute it looks when their little shoulders bob up and down.