Babies cry to express almost everything throughout the first year of their life, much to the dismay of new parents. Right when the parents are getting used to all the crying and little to “no sleep,” their baby becomes colicky and starts crying non-stop for a few hours every evening. Been there, done that?
Colic is a widespread condition among infants, causing them to cry at a high pitch for a few hours in the evening, for seemingly no reason. Doctors aren’t sure what causes colic. They suspect it might be because of some discomfort. It may also be a sensitivity towards the sounds and sights of the outside world.
Gripe water is a well-known over-the-counter remedy for colic. It is sold in a liquid form and is available in many variations in the market. It contains fennel, chamomile, ginger, lemon balm, licorice(1), and cinnamon. Doctors do not stand by the efficacy of gripe water, but many studies have proven that gripe water isn’t harmful either.
How Does Gripe Water Work?
Administering gripe water for constipation in babies is believed to help with stomach discomfort caused by an inability to pass gas. Gripe contains some digestive ingredients which provide comfort from stomach pain and also relieve bloating by discharging gas. Gripe water is also known for its usage in the treatment of teething pain and hiccups in infants.
Gripe Water vs. Gas Drops
Gripe water contains herbs that soothe a baby’s stomach and take care of the discomfort caused by gas or some irritant in the breast milk. You can buy them in various brands with slight variations in ingredients.
Gas drops contain simethicone(2), which breaks down large gas bubbles and helps the baby pass them without pain. It provides almost instant relief from gas and soothes the baby as the gas is released in burps and gas passage. Both of these are meant to soothe a baby’s stomach and help in controlling the unexplained crying episodes.
Is Gripe Water Safe for Babies?
Gripe water has been traditionally used to ease colic and relieve gas in children. There are different types of gripe waters available in the market, and most healthcare professionals are skeptical about formulas that contain alcohol and sugar. Both of these ingredients are harmful to the babies, along with some others like peppermint, sodium bicarbonate, gluten, dairy, and artificial flavors, thus, avoid these.
When choosing gripe water for your baby, go for a brand that is alcohol-free, sugar-free, and does not contain chemicals. Gripe water is not recommended for children younger than one month of age as their digestive tracts are considered sensitive and still at the developing stage.
When administering gripe water for babies, make sure you are giving the recommended dosage. Gripe water is perfectly safe to be mixed with baby’s formula or breast milk, but for better results, you should try and administer gripe water independently, and undiluted.
Ideally, a dosage of ½ teaspoon (2.5 mL), five-six times a day is recommended for babies one to six months old, and 1 (5mL) teaspoon for six months and older.
Side Effects of Gripe Water
Parents can safely opt for gripe water for newborns but may have to pay attention to any potential allergic reactions. You must keep an eye on your baby after gripe administration and look for symptoms like:
- Watery eyes
- Swelling of the lips or tongue
- Change in breathing
If you notice these side effects, discontinue the use of gripe water. Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately.
[Read: Home Remedies to Treat Baby Acne]
Gripe Water Combined With Other Soothing Techniques
Colic is a tricky condition to manage as every child shows a different pattern. Some children feel better soon, some require gripe water, and some find solace in other techniques.
If your child has been getting restless in the evening, try the following soothing methods along with the recommended dose of gripe water. One of the following techniques may work out for you.
- Keep your baby in an upright position while feeding. This may ease gassiness.
- Consider removing food items like peanuts, soy, fish, wheat, and dairy from their diet.
- If your baby is on formula, switch the brand.
- Gently massage the baby’s stomach to help the baby burp or pass gas.
- Swaddle the baby in a warm blanket and rock him/her with soothing background music.
- Take your baby out for a car ride. The white noise(3) of the car relaxes a colicky infant and often puts them to sleep.
Colic is a very common condition in babies, and fortunately, it gets better by the time a child turns three months old. In the meanwhile, you can find some solace in the age-old remedy: gripe water. While it has not been proven to be an effective treatment of colic, gripe water for babies is a safe bet in alleviating the pain and discomfort.
If you notice that your baby’s condition isn’t improving, make an appointment with your doctor immediately.
1. When Can You Start Giving Gripe Water to Your Baby?
Gripe water can be given to babies older than one month. It is not prescribed to children below one month of age.
2. Does Gripe Water Make Babies Sleepy?
Gripe water does not make babies sleepy. Babies sleep after consuming gripe water because they experience relief from gas and are due to exhaustion caused after hours of crying.