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Causes of Hiccups in Newborns & Infants

Updated February 21, 2017

Babies can start to hiccup while still in the womb, beginning within the sixth week of the pregnancy. Once your baby is born, she may hiccup frequently, as most babies tend to do. The causes of hiccups vary, but they generally aren't a reason for concern since hiccuping does not affect your baby's breathing. However, in rare cases, hiccups may be a sign of gastro-oseophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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Diaphragm Contractions

The diaphragm is the muscle that enables your baby to breath. When this muscles suddenly contracts because of chafing or a stimulus, your baby hiccups. The diaphragm contractions that cause your baby to hiccup while in the womb may be preparing your child to breath once she is born.


Your baby's hiccups may also be caused by eating. When you feed your baby, whether its breast milk, formula or food, he may take in too much air while eating. This causes an irritation to her diaphragm which results in hiccups.

Drop in Temperature

Professor of paediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center and Shriner's Hospital Lynette Mazur says that when a baby becomes cold due to a drop in temperature, she can develop hiccups. Your baby may be hiccuping because she's cold.

Internal Organs

Immature internal organs may also be the reason behind your baby's hiccups. As his body continues to develop and grow, the frequency of his hiccups should subside.


GERD stands for gastro-oseophageal reflux disease. In babies, this causes food to repeatedly be refluxed into the oesophagus, resulting in regurgitation. Other than hiccups, the symptoms for GERD are frequent vomiting, choking if the food becomes lodged in the windpipe or lungs during regurgitation, irritability and nonstop crying after feeding, and inability to gain weight. When you lay your baby down or in a car seat after eating, the symptoms may worsen. While many babies with GERD grow out of it by the time they turn 1 or 2 years old, the symptoms can persist. If you suspect your baby's hiccups are a sign of GERD, consult your health-care provider.

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About the Author

Kristen Marquette has been a professional writer since 2009 when FireLight Books published her debut novel, "The Vampiric Housewife." Since 2000 she has helped students hone their written and verbal skills in English as a tutor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University.

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