Gripe water for newborns, is it safe for babies? Since decades ago, our parent used to give us gripe water when we were very young but comes to the question of why infants were given gripe water by our parents or even grandparents? According to our parents, it is useful to help ease the digestive problem and prevent stomachache.
Should we or shouldn’t we administer infant gripe water? Does it have any adverse health effect to the babies? Does it give the infant any health benefit at all? Take a look at what is gripe water and what are the ingredients in the gripe water that are able to help soothing our babies with a digestive problem.
What is gripe water?
Gripe water is a commercial product, non-prescription to infants and most people believe it can relief colic and some gastrointestinal problem to the babies.
One of the famous brand of gripe water you can find in the market is called Woodward’s Gripe water. It is named after William Harrison Woodward, an English pharmacist who invented gripe water back in the 1851. It was at first to be adopted for treatment of fen fever, a malarial disease outbreak in England back in those days and he was convinced that this prescription can also be used to treat and soothe gastrointestinal problem in babies.
The original ingredients contain 3.6%of alcohol, sugar and other active ingredients such as dill seed oil and sodium bicarbonate. Alcohol and high sugar are believed to have soothing effect to the babies. This is the traditional recipe of gripe water, nowadays, the modern gripe water ingredients have changed and most of them do not contain alcohol and sugar.
Nowadays, the gripe water has become alcohol and sugar free due to the fact that giving alcohol to infant can be extremely dangerous and high sugar content can damage the erupting teeth. Dill seed oil is served as an aromatic carminative especially used for treatment of flatulence in babies. Sodium bicarbonate is used as an antacid to neutralize the acid in the stomach and relief mild intermittent acid re flux in babies.
Gripe water is famous for colic and stomach pain treatment in babies. It is although not considered as drug, it is considered as dietary supplement according to FDA.
What is colic? Colic refers to abdominal pain that causing babies to have excessive crying for more than 3 hours, at least 3 days in a week and can last for as long as 3 weeks. These phenomena often starts when the babies are more than 2 weeks old and will go away when they reach 3-4 months old.
Nobody can actually tell what causes colic in babies. But some experts think that these can be factors triggering colic in babies.
- Gas due to indigestion
- Digestive system which is not fully developed
- Sensitive to breast milk or formula
- Overfeeding or underfeeding
- Emotion change due to excitement, light, noise etc.
No matter what method you used to soothe your colicky babies, they just cannot stop crying with clenching fist and curling up their leg. It normally happened in the evening time and the time when it happens is usually similar when the colic strikes.
Can gripe water ease colic and able to soothe the babies? In one study, conducted in India in year 2012, the research has found hyper acidity is not the cause of colic, therefore, sodium bicarbonate in the gripe water does not help to reduce the pain caused by colic. The sweet taste may have some soothing effect but some gripe water has no sugar content. Therefore, the gripe water can be used to treat colic is still debatable.
According to another study, “Gripe Water Administration in Infants 1-6 months of Age-A Cross-sectional Study”, it also concluded that gripe water does not prevent baby’s excessive crying due to infantile colic. They found that vomiting and constipation is more common on babies who are administered with gripe water than those babies who do not received it.
Gripe water for newborns, any health benefit?
Since it is called a herbal supplement, not a drug or medicine, therefore this product can be sold to people without approval by FDA. There is no scientific proven, it is safe to use for infants. Most of the support of using gripe water comes from anecdotal report of parents.
A study involved 335 infants who aged 0-6 months old who were given gripe water at least once a day were put to a test. The result were showing those who administered with gripe water still encounter colic, vomiting and constipation were more significant than those who were exclusively breastfed.
Nowadays, gripe water ingredients have been altered and the manufacturer has added some herbs like peppermint, fennel, ginger, chamomile, cardamom, licorice, cinnamon, clove or lemon balm, depend on type of brand. Some of them do not contain sodium bicarbonate.
These herbs are used to help with babies’ indigestion problem, reduce gas and ease the stomach discomfort. Since gripe water is made of herbal solution, many parents do not mind administer it to their young child. Most product reviews from the parents are mostly positive about the usage of gripe water. However, some still find no difference after administer the gripe water to their infants.
One cannot assume all of these herbal preparations are safe for babies and free of side effects,” states research in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. For instance, if given continuously and in large doses, gripe water containing sodium bicarbonate may cause milk-alkali syndrome—a condition marked by too much calcium in the blood that could lead to various degrees of kidney failure.
Gripe water that contain peppermint also will worsen the baby’s reflux symptoms. Also, avoid gripe water containing gluten, dairy, parabens, and vegetable carbon. Many pediatricians will advise parents to try other methods of soothing a colicky baby before giving them gripe water. The benefits often do not outweigh the potential risks, and gripe water is likely not effective as a treatment.
Review from parents
Due to most parent cannot bear to see their newborn child suffers from fussiness and excessive crying due to colic or gas, they will choose to believe gripe water as a home remedy. Since gripe water has been well-known for decades and our grand parent were using them on our parent when they were very young and it does not pose significant adverse health effect to the child.
Nowadays, the gripe water is used to relief gas and stomach discomfort. Not much for the colic treatment. Here are some examples from the parents positive review from Amazon.com.
In fact, I just show you a few examples of product review that it is able to help soothing their baby. There are hundreds of positive reviews but some said there is no difference before and after administer the gripe water. Well, if calculated by percentage, more than 70% of parent still think that gripe water is effective in soothing and calming their child especially for releasing gas and improve hiccups.
Let’s us see some examples of gripe water in the market which have been widely used by many parents.
Example of gripe water in the market that works
Just looking at Amazon.com itself, there are plenty of gripe water brand. Some products contain zero sodium bicarbonate, alcohol, sugar. Most famous brands are listed here:
- Little Remedies Day/Night Gripe water – no sodium bicarbonate, parabens, gluten and dye free. It contains chamomile and lemon to promote healthy sleep and fennel and ginger to help with digestive system.
- Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water – alcohol and paraben free. No dairy, soy, gluten and sucrose, safe from any intolerance and allergy reaction. It contains fennel, ginger and sodium bicarbonate treating baby’s gas and stomach upset.
- Colic Calm Homeopathic Gripe Water – only one which is FDA listed medicine, no sugar, sodium bicarbonate and simethicone. No dairy, soy, gluten and animal product free, safe from any intolerance and allergy reaction. It contains chamomile, ginger, fennel and lemon balm, able to treat stomach discomfort.
- Woodward’s Gripe Water – no sugar but contain sodium bicarbonate and dill seed oil to treat excessive gas, teething discomfort and due to colic.
- Wellements Organic Gripe Water – made of organic ingredients. No alcohol, dye, artificial coloring or flavor and free from dairy, soy, gluten and paraben. It contains sodium bicarbonate for gas relief, discomfort caused by colic, hiccups and teething.
WHO recommended woman to breastfeed their infant child exclusively up to six months to achieve optima growth and development of health. Nothing except breast milk shall be given to the child. ONLY breast milk or formula (if breastfeeding is not possible). After reviewing all the facts and figures, it is advisable not to administer gripe water to your infants especially those babies who are less than a month’s old as their digestive system is sensitive and not well developed. Try other method to soothe your colicky baby before giving them gripe water. To be sure, always talk to your doctor before giving it to your baby.
Drop me a comment below how do you think about feeding your child with gripe water. Share your experience with us and your precious view will also beneficial to those who are reading this article.