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Newborns and infants are more prone to stomach and gas issues because of how sensitive their digestive systems are and how new they are to processing food. A remedy that you can try and may have heard about is gripe water.
What is Gripe Water?
Gripe water was first used in 1840 in England was made to treat an outbreak of malaria. They noticed that this gripe water soothed babies minor stomach issues and also soothed colic babies. A pharmacist named William Woodward eventually modified it and sold it commercially.
Originally, gripe water was made of water, oil, dill, sodium bicarbonate, sugar, and 3.6% alcohol. Nowadays, most manufacturers have removed the alcohol. Some brands might still use artificial sweeteners or alcohol so it’s best to always check the labels before purchasing.
This over the counter liquid supplement is similar to a tonic made of herbs like chamomile, ginger, fennel, cinnamon, peppermint, clove, dill, or licorice, and sodium bicarbonate.
Apart from treating gas pains, it can also soothe hiccups, teething pain, indigestion, flatulence, and sometimes colic.
How does gripe water work?
Gripe water has ingredients like ginger, fennel, dill, chamomile, and licorice are known to help relieve stomach pains and gas. Some also believe that gripe water works because it tastes sweet and this soothes a fussy baby.
Other ingredients like sodium bicarbonate can help get rid of acidity or acid reflux that baby might be experiencing. If your baby is premature or has kidney issues, sodium bicarbonate might not be good for them so it’s best to consult your doctor.
Herbs like dill or fennel can help in digestion and some research have also shown that colic babies get relief from stomach discomforts when given fennel seed oil.
Fennel contains a lot of dietary fiber that can help the digestive tract get going.
Ginger has been known to relieve GI irritation as well stimulate saliva and bile production to help the digestive system function properly.
Chamomile is an herb that is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant that can help cure diarrhea, gas, motion sickness, vomiting, and nausea.
Licorice also has these anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties as well being able to boost the immune system.
Lemon balm can help in detoxifying the liver, promote sleep, and also protect the immune system.
Other gripe water ingredients
Vegetable glycerin – acts as a sweetener and humectant.
Potassium sorbate – preservative
Citric acid – preservative
Xanthan gum – thickener
Agave nectar – sweetener
Is gripe water safe?
As with everything relating to your baby, you need to ask your doctor if you can give gripe water to your little one.
There are also different gripe water brands out there with various ingredients so it’s best to double check the ingredients list.
A lot of moms have used gripe water to ease baby’s stomach problems and gas buildup issues. It is safe and gentle enough on your baby’s digestive system to use to help relieve, soothe them, and give them comfort.
Gripe water that contains sucrose might soothe baby but you also don’t want your baby to get used to the sugar. Your doctor may also be able to give you recommendations for gripe water as well as the correct amounts that you should be giving to your baby.
Uses for gripe water
Colicky babies –
Gripe water since a long time ago has been known to soothe babies suffering from colic.
Distressed babies –
If your baby is anxious or in pain, gripe water can be used to comfort them.
For babies that are having problems with gas or flatulence, gripe water provides relief.
Stomach issues –
If your baby has gastrointestinal problems like acidity or even constipation, gripe water can be used to help them.
Teething babies will usually cry a lot, which can also lead to gas and flatulence and gripe water can help soothe them.
When a baby’s diaphragm gets irritated, it will cause hiccups. Hiccups are also caused by taking in too much air while feeding, especially if baby is feeding really quickly.
They can also cause abdominal pain since muscles will contract quickly and often. Gripe water can address diaphragm irritation caused by indigestion, acid reflux, or gas.
Gripe water for newborns
Babies, especially newborns have very sensitive and delicate digestive systems and shouldn’t be given anything (other than breast milk) without consulting your pediatrician first.
Some gripe water manufacturers suggest that it is safe to use their product for babies as young as two weeks old. To provide you piece of mind and also to keep baby safe, always consult your doctor.
Gripe water side effects
Because gripe water is a mild herbal supplement, it can easily be digested but you should still check for potential allergic reactions like hives, swollen lips/tongue, itchy skin, vomiting, and irregular breathing. If any of these happen, contact your pediatrician right away.
Tips on how to use gripe water
Look at the ingredients carefully –
Make sure that there is no vegetable carbon or charcoal in the ingredients since this may cause constipation. Make sure they are alcohol-free and sugar-free. Choose a good brand or source that is recommended by your doctor.
Read the instructions –
Depending on the brand, you would need to do your research and get more information from your pediatrician. For example, there are brands that recommend that baby be at least 1 month before giving them gripe water.
Amount of dosage to give is also another important thing to get advice from before giving baby anything.
Watch out for allergies –
Even though gripe water doesn’t cause allergies, it is still better to be on the safe side and watch out for symptoms of allergic reactions when introducing it to the baby. Look out for things like itchiness, watery eyes, hives, trouble breathing/swallowing, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Give baby gripe water using a teaspoon or dropper. A lot of brands will use teaspoon measurements so you can use this and just transfer to a dropper.
In general, gripe water is given once a day and some brands will recommend to increase the frequency, but always check with your doctor on the proper dosage and frequency. The amount given will also depend on your baby’s age and their condition.
Check The Expiration Date –
Always check for the expiry date to make sure you aren’t giving expired gripe water.
Don’t Give On An Empty Stomach –
Don’t give baby gripe water on an empty stomach and only give it if he/she is experiencing stomach issues and can’t be soothed by any other ways.
Give It Time –
Gripe water will usually work between five to ten minutes to provide relief for your baby.
The Best Gripe Water For Babies:
Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water –
This brand is pediatrician approved with 100% vegan ingredients. Some of the ingredients include organic ginger and fennel. There are no alcohol or parabens so it is safe and gentle for your baby. It is used to relieve gas pains, hiccups, colic, and teething aches.
Little Remedies Gripe Water –
Wellements Organic Night Time Gripe Water –
The gripe water ingredients here include organic fennel and ginger extract together with chamomile flower extract. This helps in improving rest and easing baby’s discomfort especially if he/she is having colic.
It can also relieve baby from any stomach discomforts and hiccups, helping them to sleep better and get some rest. This brand is also USDA-certified organic with no artificial colors and preservatives.
Zarabee’s Naturals Baby Gripe Water –
Contains chamomile, lemon balm, and fennel. There are no additives making it safe. Babies from ages 2 weeks old to 6 months old can use this pediatrician approved gripe water to address infant tummy issues.
Gripe water alternatives
Check your diet –
If you are breastfeeding, what you are eating could cause some stomach issues and discomfort for your baby. Try getting rid of things like dairy, beans, soy, and caffeine to see if it will help and get rid of those issues your baby is going through.
I went off dairy with my first and it made a huge difference in his comfort. He went from crying 3-4 hours straight every night before bed (and then waking up multiple times) to sleep through the night two weeks after I cut out dairy.
Gas drops –
Sometimes, these can work better for baby since they break up gas bubbles. Consult your pediatrician if this is the better option for you and what brands are recommended.
My pediatrician recommended these, and said they work about 50% of the time. I’ve found they can help, but if there is a bigger issue like an allergy it won’t solve the problem.
Check baby’s formula –
Sometimes you need to switch from a cow’s milk formula to another that is dairy free or since some babies are allergic to cow’s milk.
Double check with your doctor before switching to another brand of formula for your baby. After mixing your powder formula, you can also let it settle for a bit before feeding to make sure everything is settled and there are no more bubbles.
Bottle feeding –
When feeding your baby using a bottle, try tipping it so that the whole nipple is filled with milk and there is no empty space for air and bubbles. You can also look for bottle options that will prevent air from going in.
Infant massage –
Aside from using this activity to bond with your baby, infant massages can help calm them down and ease gas pains. Tummy massages are great for releasing abdominal tension. Rub baby’s belly using gentle circular motions to push the gas out.
You can wrap baby in a warm, soft blanket and you can also try to rock them back and forth or swaying them. This is a comfy and soothing experience for them.
Tummy pressure –
Sometimes you can relieve gassy babies by putting soft pressure on the belly. Tummy time can also be helpful to release gas bubbles apart from strengthening neck and shoulder muscles.
Bicycle legs –
Moving baby’s legs in a bicycle motion can help relieve gas.
Probiotic drops can help in reducing gas problems and digestive issues.
Soothing sounds –
Humming a tune or whispering “shhh” can help calm and soothe baby. White noises like sounds from a fan, vacuum cleaner or dryer can even help.
Sometimes babies just need to let that air out and can get cranky if the gas stays in their stomach. You can help them by gently tapping their back to get rid of the air that is trapped and they would feel much better.
Breast milk –
If you are feeding both formula and breast milk, sometimes feeding exclusively breast milk until 6 months can help promote a healthy digestive system.
Gripe water has worked for many mothers out there and has helped babies with stomach troubles and issues. Depending on your baby’s situation and health, you can ask your pediatrician if gripe water is safe for your baby to try.
What do you think about gripe water and have you used it on your baby before?