Whenever your baby cries out loud because of stomach pain or hiccups, the older members of your family will recommend you give them gripe water.
It may seem like it is a solution to every problem your child has but actually gripe water helps to soothe them.
Infants suffer from gas and stomach problems when their digestive systems are still developing.
Thus not only the elderly in the family but your doctor may also recommend it to you.
So what exactly is this liquid and how does it help to soothe your child?
This article discusses all that so you have a bottle before your baby arrives.
What is Gripe Water?
It is essentially a supplement in liquid form.
The main ingredients include:
- sodium bicarbonate
- lemon balm
However, the herbs are subject to change according to the formula.
It is usually given to babies because of stomach and gas problems.
A child may have difficulty passing gas that causes stomach pain and that’s where gripe water can come in handy.
However, that is not the only problem it can solve.
The herbs can help with digestion.
These include fennel, dill and ginger.
Therefore, it can aid your child in passing gas and soothe symptoms of colic.
There can also be additional ingredients such as sugar, alcohol and flavoring agents.
So some may say it works only because of the sweet flavor.
There is actually not enough evidence confirming that gripe water works.
That said, it is safe to use and give to your babies.
However, you should not confuse it with gas drops.
Those drops have an anti-foaming agent i.e. simethicone.
It breaks down bubbles present in the digestive tract aiding in passing gas.
Gripe Water for Newborns: How to Give it?
You need to keep a few things in mind before giving your child gripe water.
This will help you give your child a safe dosage.
Check the ingredients list
It is firstly important to check if there are any toxic ingredients in the product you buy.
Back in the day, gripe water contained alcohol and people thought it helped relax children.
However, now it is known that alcohol is toxic for babies and shouldn’t be consumed in any way.
Plus, also ensure that it is sucrose-free besides being alcohol-free.
Another ingredient to be wary of is vegetable carbon.
This may be present in the ingredients list by the name of carbo vegetabilis.
It is a form of charcoal that may lead to constipation in children.
Therefore, carefully look into all the ingredients before giving them to your child.
Follow the Instructions
While gripe water is safe to give, it is best to follow instructions so that you do not give an overdose.
Some brands will label that you should not give it to your baby before they are a month old.
Hence, before jumping to give it to your child on someone’s recommendation, consult your pediatrician.
They can guide you about the brand you need to give to your child and the suitable dosage.
If your child suffers from colic pain then you can give it to them right after feedings as pain usually increases at that time.
Place the dropper in your baby’s mouth and slowly release it.
Let them swallow in small doses.
You do not need to mix it with breast milk.
While that is safe to do, you don’t have to necessarily do it.
In fact, it can hamper the effectiveness of gripe water.
Is It Safe To Use?
Since gripe water is a dietary supplement and not a medication, it does not go through rigorous medical checks to assure it is safe by the FDA.
Hence, It is safe until proven unsafe.
That said, there are certain formulas and gripe water ingredients that are definitely unsafe for newborns.
Traditional formulas with alcohol are not safe for kids.
Rather they can be toxic.
Moreover, the natural and homeopathic ingredients are untested and can also turn out to be unsafe for your child.
Plus sucrose in the liquid may not be the best choice for your child.
While it is not harmful, it can still impact their oral health.
Sucrose is a sugar that can stick to your baby’s gums or their upcoming teeth.
If you do use it then wipe their gums with a washcloth after giving them a drop.
Though, you may not want your child to get used to getting soothed with sugar.
So it is best to go for a sucrose-free solution.
But most importantly, only choose gripe water for newborn specifically.
It is a newborn baby essential but it is not a substitute for milk.
Hence, your child should never drink a large quantity.
Your child should only be breastfed or bottle-fed milk while gripe water should stay in minimal quantity when they feel uneasy.
Other than that, sodium bicarbonate is not great for colicky babies.
It is not present in all gripe water because it can contribute to alkalinity in the stomach.
Hence, it can make colic worse.
There’s also peppermint.
This herb can affect the baby’s reflux and worsen symptoms.
Also beware of gluten, dairy products and paraben.
That said, doctors recommend parents first try other methods to soothe babies than giving gripe water.
Possibly due to side effects. Let’s find out how!
Gripe Water Side Effects
As long as you keep an eye out for the ingredients, gripe water is safe to use.
That said, there could always be an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients.
So it is best to always check if your baby is suffering from:
- watery eyes
- swelling in lips and tongue
- change in breathing
If you see any of these, it is time to immediately take them to the doctor and stop the dose.
Remember, that you should never give more than the prescribed dose anyway in a 24 hour period.
Do you see your child becoming drowsy and sleepy after having gripe water?
That isn’t something to worry about.
It is not a side effect rather that after all the crying, they are exhausted.
So even if you give gripe water or skip it, the fussiness will tire them out and as a result, they would fall asleep after a while.
There may not be many side effects but you still need to watch out for all the allergies.
Signs like swelling and trouble breathing can even be life-threatening for your child.
Moreover, if the gripe water does not work on your child completely then there is no need to keep giving it to them.
In that case, you can try other ways to soothe your baby.
Give Your Child a Massage
Gently rubbing your child can help to soothe them down by calming them and also reduce gas by easing pain.
What’s more, it gives an opportunity for mom and dad to bond with their baby.
Check Infant Formula
Formula milk is a big culprit when it comes to making gas.
This is because if you give them powdered milk you are probably shaking and stirring it causing bubbles to form.
These bubbles will form gas and unsettle the baby’s tummy.
Therefore before feeding wait for some time so that the bubbles settle down.
Apply Pressure on the Tummy
Gently pat or rub your baby’s back.
Rest their head on one knee and their tummy on the other to gently pat their back.
Or you can simply lay them down on a blanket and gently apply pressure on their tummy by rubbing it.
Another thing to do is spend some Tummy Time with the parents.
Your child should rest on their back but some tummy time can help burst those gas bubbles and strengthen muscles.
Check with your doctor if you can give your child antigas drops instead.
These help to break the gas bubbles and may be even more effective than gripe water.
However, that will work if your concern is only gas.
Swaddling your Baby
Wrap your child in a blanket and swaddle them.
While you are rocking them in your arms it can give them a soothing sensation and calm them down.
Tip the Feeder
Before feeding your child, tip the feeder whether you give formula or breast milk.
This will help to fill the nipple with the milk and keep the bubbles away.
Or you can also try bottles that do not trap any bubbles and your child gulps them.
Other Ways to Soothe Your Child
- Eliminate foods from the diet that can cause gas such as fish, soy, peanuts, wheat
- Keep your baby upright during feedings
- Bicycle their legs which helps to relieve gas
- Stop during feedings so that your child can burp and not accumulate gas
- Use a soy-based formula
- Try singing a song or turning on a relaxing sound so that they feel calm
- Mixing chamomile tea in milk after asking your doctor
- Prescribed probiotic drops can decrease digestive problems
All these ways can help to calm down your child for a while and may even work to give long-term benefit.
That said, if you feel gripe water works for your child then you can keep using it.
However, remember to never overdose your child and look into the ingredients carefully to not give any alcohol or sucrose.