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What are hiccups?

Hiccups are strange gulping sounds caused by spasms of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle between the chest and the abdomen.

What causes hiccups?

Hiccups may be caused by an over-full stomach from eating too much. The stomach presses against the diaphragm. A child may have hiccups after drinking too much soda.

Sometimes babies get hiccups while feeding. If this happens, try changing the baby's position. Also try to burp the baby. If the hiccups don't go away, give the baby a little water. Wait until the hiccups are gone before you try feeding again.

How can I take care of my child?

Give 1 teaspoon of dry granulated sugar to your child and have him swallow it quickly. If this doesn't work the first time, repeat it 3 times at 2-minute intervals. Babies can be given a swallow of water. The child should also lie down.

If this doesn't work, gag your child 1 or 2 times by pushing down on the back of the tongue with the handle of a spoon or a toothbrush.

Other ways to cause gagging are rubbing the uvula or soft palate with a cotton swab, or pulling the tongue outward with the fingers.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?


The hiccups last more than 3 hours (the usual time needed to empty the stomach) and your child is uncomfortable.

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-06-19
Last reviewed: 2015-06-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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