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How Safe Is Gripe Water for Babies

Gripe Water to Soothe Babies and Newborns: How safe is it?

Gripe water might not be something that you think to use when colicky babies are crying, and you can’t find a way to calm them.

The idea of a baby suffering and in pain is heartbreaking for any parent. When we feel helpless, it can be hard to know what to do.

However, the liquid can help to calm your baby’s gastrointestinal problems.

Gripe water is an herbal tincture used to treat mild tummy trouble in babies. It works by calming the gut, which is where the complaints arise from for colicky babies.

It’s common to see gripe water for babies on the shelf at most pharmaceutical and major medicine stores. The product has been existing for a long time and is marketed as a soothing aid.

It advertises a non-drowsy, natural alternative to medicines your doctor may prescribe. But what’s inside of this natural supplement? Is it safe to drink for infants?

Well, you can only know more about gripe water when you read further. So let’s get right into this topic.

What Is Gripe Water?

Gripe water is an OTC (over-the-counter) liquid supplement that parents give their fussy or colicky babies.

Depending on the product/brand, gripe water usually includes sodium bicarbonate with a blend of herbs such as dill, fennel, ginger, lemon, chamomile, and peppermint.

You can readily get gripe water at most grocery and medicine stores and administer it to your child in the form of drops from the included dropper.

Formerly, gripe water mainly was sugar and alcohol, sometimes at startlingly high concentrations. Today, it is primarily agave, purified water, and ginger flavouring.

Many people mistake gripe water for over-the-counter gas drops, but these two products are entirely different. Gas drops have the anti-foaming agent called simethicone, designed to break up gas bubbles in the babies’ digestive tracts and allow them to pass gas.

On the other hand, the gripe water is a blend of ingredients devised to soothe upset stomachs.

Several over-the-counter products are available for relieving colic symptoms in babies. However, many natural products come with some concern about the ingredients.

Choosing a safe remedy is of vital importance when you are trying it out.

Gripe Water for Babies Ingredients

Gripe water is an herbal remedy in liquid form. There are many variations by brand, but most formulas typically contain different herbs, including fennel, chamomile, ginger, cinnamon, lemon balm, and licorice. Some also contain sodium bicarbonate.

Extra ingredients may include a combination of the following: dill oil, fennel oil, aloe, and preservatives for freshness.

When choosing gripe water, parents should read the listed ingredients in the pack. You should avoid the liquid with some ingredients that include gluten, such as wheat, dairy products, sucrose, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, sodium bicarbonate, which are not recommended for babies.

Moreover, the U.S FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate gripe water since it is positioned as a supplement and not a medicine. Therefore, the labelling of any product cannot ensure that it contains the ingredients listed there.

The following are traditional gripe water ingredients and how they affect an infant.

Alcohol

Babies shouldn’t drink alcohol as it can cause addiction and lead to adverse health consequences. Also, alcohol that is as high as 9 percent can cause developmental problems in babies.

Sodium Bicarbonate

Baking soda increases calcium levels in the blood and can cause the so-called milk-alkali syndrome. Since babies under six months are fed breast milk or formula exclusively, they have an increased risk of developing this condition which may also cause kidney problems.

Wheat or Dairy Products

These ingredients in gripe water can cause upset stomach in infants.

Sugar

Excess sugar can lead to tooth decay for infants with baby teeth and cause a dependence on sugar at an early age.

Gluten Products and Parabens

Gluten, parabens, dairy, and vegetable carbon can induce allergies in babies.

Dill Seed Oil

Dill seed oil is an essential oil recognized for providing relief for indigestion. Nevertheless, some children might be allergic to it. Therefore, you must exercise caution while using this ingredient.

Even though gripe water today is alcohol-free, its use for infants is not recommended because it has no proven health benefits. Furthermore, WHO does not recommend prelacteal feeding to infants.

Benefits of Taking Gripe Water for Babies

When your child cannot pass gas, he is more likely to experience stomach discomfort.

Some babies’ crying can last several hours for days or weeks. People believe gripe water eases colic brought about by gassiness since its ingredients theoretically help digestion.

Relieves Stomach Ailments

Infants suffering from stomach aches and pains can benefit from gripe water.

Improves Digestive System

The liquid aids infants in passing gas due to the natural herbs present in it. It corrects their digestive systems and, more importantly, relieves them of tummy pain. This may be beneficial for babies suffering from flatulence or gastrointestinal problems like acidity.

Colic Relief

Many caregivers or parents also give gripe water to their babies to relieve colic pain, a severe abdomen pain. This pain could also happen due to indigestion.

Teething Pain Reliever

Teething infants tend to cry a lot or be irritable. This act can cause them to swallow a large amount of air leading to flatulence.

Helps to Alleviate Hiccups

Another way gripe water is beneficial is in treating or relieving hiccups. During a baby’s first year, hiccups can prove to be bothersome, as they occur when the diaphragm is irritated by flatulence or acid reflux. Gripe water can relieve hiccups by soothing the diaphragm, according to theoretical reports.

Is Gripe Water Safe For Infants?

Specific brands and ingredients will affect how safe it is for babies. When considering gripe water or any other remedy for your baby, always seek the advice of your doctor.

Any gripe water with alcohol is not safe. And other formulas, including those labelled “natural” or “homeopathic,” contain various other contents that may be untested or unsafe.

Also, gripe water produce with sucrose or sugar, while not hazardous, may not be the best option. When a baby consumes sugar, it can harm their gums or emerging teeth. In addition, you don’t want your baby to become accustomed to being soothed by sweets. So always check with a pediatrician first about a specific brand and kind of gripe water. If it doesn’t work, let them know.

Moreover, gripe water should never be given in large quantities to a baby or used as a substitute for food, even if your pediatrician recommends it as a remedy for digestive problems. You should feed your infant with breast milk, formula or a combination of the two at this age.

How Does Gripe Water Work?

The original gripe water, first used by moms and nannies in England in the 1850s, contained alcohol that people used to calm babies. However, we now know that alcohol can be toxic to a baby.

Although experts aren’t entirely confident in gripe water’s ability to soothe stomach troubles, it’s believed that ingredients like dill, fennel, and ginger contain properties that can reduce gas and stomach discomfort.

If you wish to give gripe water to your baby, make sure you ask his pediatrician first to ensure that it is safe.

If your child’s medical professional approves, consider using gripe water only if other gas-relieving methods, like abdominal massage, tummy time, or leg bicycling, are not working.

In addition, you’ll want to consult with your doctor about whether the brand you’re using is safe, as gripe water products are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Consult your pediatrician about the dosage and frequency of this medication and check the packaging for instructions. Generally, the limit is four doses a day, but only under the care of your practitioner.

If your doctor says gripe water is acceptable for your baby and it seems to work, you should stop using it when your little one is 4 to 6 months old, when gassiness typically becomes less of an issue.

Our Top 3 Safe Gripe Water Brands

Mommy’s Bliss Original Gripe Water

Mommy's Bliss Original Gripe Water

Is your infant crying from colic, or experiencing gas discomfort, hiccups and fussiness?

Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water is a mild formula that works at a fast rate to ease pain, tummy troubles, and teething.

NSF-certified and pediatrician-approved, the Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water contains ginger, organic fennel, and other 100 percent vegan ingredients.

In addition, it does not include sucrose, yeast, soy, dill, gluten, dairy, parabens, alcohol, petroleum-based by-products, artificial colours and flavours, and the top eight allergens.

Therefore, Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water is a gentler and safer choice for babies.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars               Price: $19.00               Buy now

Wellements Organic Nighttime Gripe Water

Wellements Organic Nighttime Gripe Water

Even though a sound night’s sleep is important, your little one may spend some time awake if he or she suffers from colic.

Wellements Organic Nighttime Gripe Water eases stomach discomfort symptoms, such as colic, gas, fussiness, and hiccups and promotes sleep.

It is better to give this organic medication to your 1 year + child before bedtime, then sing a nighttime song to further encourage sleep.

With USDA-certified natural ingredients like chamomile flower extract, ginger root extract, and organic fennel seed extract, you and your baby will sleep better at night.

In addition, it does not contain parabens, gluten, dyes, dairy, soy, artificial flavours, colours, and preservatives.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars               Price: $12.49               Buy now

Little Remedies Gripe Water

Little Remedies Gripe Water

Little Remedies Gripe Water gently soothes your baby’s stomach discomfort from hiccups, gas, fussiness, and colic, in minutes.

It is pediatrician-recommended for newborns and growing babies. Furthermore, your little one can safely use the Little Remedies Gripe Water for up to 12 doses a day or at every feeding.

Agave vegetable glycerin, fennel seed extract, ginger root extract work together to help relieve colic, gas, and hiccups.

The gluten-free dietary supplement includes a dispenser, so your baby can take it right away if they are having stomach problems.

Additionally, this gripe water set includes two portable bottles, perfect for impromptu visits to grandma’s house or plane trips.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars               Price: $14.20               Buy now

When Can Infants Have Gripe Water?

According to the manufacturers’ claims, you can give gripe water to infants as young as two weeks.

Babies often take gripe water during the first year of their lives if they have symptoms of colic, excessive crying, or fussiness. It is in this first year that these digestive symptoms are more prevalent. They believe it will help alleviate colic.

However, I do not advise you to offer it to babies under six months since their digestive tract is still developing and sensitive.

Moreover, many people believe that little ones should not get anything other than formula or breast milk until they are six months old.

Occasionally, parents will hear an anecdotal experience from someone else that gripe water helps with fussiness, gassiness, and teething pain. Some parents have even reported that the gripe water can be helpful in calming babies to start sleeping through the night.

So, a wise choice is to consult with your pediatrician before giving the liquid to your baby.

How to Give Your Baby Gripe Water

  • Before using any gripe water on your baby, ensure to first read the instructions on the leaflet. And give your baby the recommended dose. If you still doubt the dosage, contact your child’s healthcare professional.
  • Your baby might experience colic in waves and the pain might intensify after feedings. If your baby has gas pain after feeding, you can give him the liquid directly after the feeding.
  • You might be tempted to combine gripe water with breastmilk or formula for your baby. While that’s probably safe, it will work best for your baby if you give him the liquid alone.
  • When you open the bottle, dip the dropper, applicator, syringe, (or another dispenser) into it. Then, apply any of these dispensers (with the gripe water) slowly into your baby’s inner cheek.
  • Allow them to swallow the liquid in small amounts before giving them more.
  • Avoid giving the liquid to a crying baby.

Watch this video from Mommy’s Bliss for easy clarity on how to administer the liquid to your baby.

Can You Mix Gripe Water With Formula Milk?

Mixing gripe water with formula works by replacing some of the water used to prepare the formula milk with the liquid.

Formulas can taste different due to this. Mix it with breast milk or water, but be warned that your baby may start constantly asking for this mixture.

In its original form, administer it to your baby for best results.

Side Effects of Gripe Water for Babies

So far, medical experts have not clinically proven the side effects of gripe water. Nevertheless, a particular brand may cause your baby to be allergic to one or more of its ingredients. With the newer formulations, there is a claim that they are generally safe.

However, it is crucial to monitor any side effects or allergic reactions that include the following:

  • Watery eyes
  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Swollen tongue, or lips.

In addition, these side effects may also include:

  • Vomiting,
  • Any change in your infant’s breathing pattern
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Indigestion
  • Teething problems, and
  • Fussiness.

Whenever your child shows any of these signs, seek immediate medical attention.

Risks of Taking Grip Water

The majority of gripe water formulas are generally safe. But there are some risks associated with them. No adequate studies have been done on gripe water’s effectiveness in easing stomach pain, despite its popularity for colic and gas pains. Risks of using gripe water for mothers may include the following:

  • It could cause an allergic reaction.
  • It may introduce bacteria into your child’s digestive system.
  • If you take gripe water too soon after birth, it may hinder breastfeeding and delay milk supply.

Despite the widespread acceptance of anecdotal evidence suggesting gripe water may ease a newborn’s cries and be helpful, parents should weigh the risks and benefits of using the liquid.

Also, because the FDA does not approve gripe water used for colic, or any other condition, it is not regulated the same way as medications.

Other Alternatives for Gripe Water

Apart from gripe water, there are plenty of other ways to soothe your baby and help him feel better. If the pediatrician doesn’t feel gripe water is safe for your baby, they may recommend alternatives like:

Massage Your Baby to Calm Colic

Try a gentle belly massage to help eliminate your baby’s abdominal tension and gas. While rubbing your infant’s belly, apply light pressure on his tummy to help in soothing him.

Baby Burping

When your little one is cranky, place him over your shoulder and gently rub his back so he can burp. Alternatively, you can make him sit on your laps and make him burp by gently patting his back. Sometimes, all your baby might need is a little burping to feel better.

Change the Formula Milk Brand

Changing brands of formula milk may prove beneficial to some babies. The formula milk you give your baby might not be the best option if he experiences stomach problems. Discuss with your baby’s pediatrician and change the formula milk.

Swaddle Your Child

Wrap the infant in a warm, cuddly blanket, and hold them tight. Your baby can relax and feel comfortable when you swaddle him. Swaddling can help the infant to stay calm if he is irritable or over-stimulated.

Try Breastfeeding for a Longer Time

If possible, make sure that you breastfeed your little one exclusively until he is six months old because breast milk is the best choice to keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy.

Use Prescribed Medicine Instead

Use prescription medications to soothe colic.

Choosing and Giving Gripe Water Tips

If you have to give your little one gripe water, follow some valuable tips on choosing the right brand for your baby.

  • Talk to your doctor first about the brand and dosage you want to use for your child.
  • Carefully read the instructions and administer the correct dosage that the pediatrician recommends.
  • Carefully go through the ingredients list to make sure that your baby is not allergic to anything.
  • Do not choose a solution that includes sodium bicarbonate, as it can cause imbalances in the pH levels of your baby’s stomach.
  • Steer clear of solutions that have sucrose, vegetable carbon, or charcoal.
  • Avoid buying the ones that contains alcohol.
  • Stay alert and monitor any allergic reactions or side effects.
  • Try to choose a brand that utilizes as many natural ingredients as possible.

In a Nutshell

The problem of cranky babies and colic has existed since the existence of babies in the world. But gripe water should not always be the solution to digestive and gastrointestinal issues in babies.

You need to try and understand why your baby is irritated or in pain. The next step is soothing and comforting the little one without the use of any external agents.

However, this might be pretty challenging, especially if you are a first-time mom and dad, as all efforts to soothe your little one may seem abortive.

It won’t take long for things to settle down, and you will know exactly how to calm down your child.

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1 Comment

  • by Sharon
    Posted October 6, 2021 10:49 am 0Likes

    Thank you for sharing this information. I was very skeptical about giving grip water to my girl because I was not sure of the side effect. I however made use of other alternatives; some of which you highlighted.

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