Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What Is Gripe Water?

Gripe water is an easy accessible liquefied increment of vitamins and minerals like sodium bicarbonate as well as important health benefitting nutritional herbs (example ginger, fennel, chamomile, liquorice, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, lemon balm, dill or extracts of peppermint, all provisional on the recipe or the formulation of the syrup). Although number one use of gripe water is to soothe colic in babies, it is also advertised, and just as much sold, as a cure and therapy for pain arising from teething, constant occurrence of hiccups and gassiness among the ailments which prevails babies.

The History of Gripe Water

Gripe water was first commercially made available for mass consumption usage during the 19th century when it was exclusively manufactured, and sold by the British pharmacist named William Woodward. Initially, it was formulated from scratch by an extremely talented group of doctors, who wanted to relieve the pain of the people during the malaria outbreak in England, back in the 1840s. Soon after that, they started noticing wonderful results from this magic potion, which also started treating colic problems and other gas-related problems in babies. It did not take much time for Mr. William Woodward to notice that the magic potion which we know today as Gripe Water, was taking all the ill patients of the country by storm. So, he took the master formula and modified it even more, finally granting full public access by beginning to sell it commercially.

The original components of the much renowned Woodward gripe water were made up of water, dill oil, sodium bicarbonate, sugar and a small percentage of alcohol. William Woodward is said to chosen this curious word ‘gripe,’ because it is believed that in England, dated back in the 19th Century, problems of the body arising from gas were mentioned to the doctors, patients and public alike as watery gripes.

The rest of the ingredients mostly remain the same considering the location of the product sale. Sugar is one key element that is constant in all the production of gripe water medicines, no matter what and who the manufacturer is. However, there are some manufacturers who tend to include additional artificial sweeteners in their product, and such type of gripe water may turn out to be harmful for the babies.

In What Manner Does Gripe Water Help The Babies?

Although there is nominal evidence to scientifically support the fact that gripe water helps to get rid of baby colic, there are significant numbers of trustworthy parents who absolutely swear by it.

The gripe water which was originally used by mothers and nannies alike, to treat their babies suffering from colic in the 1850s, contained a significant amount of alcohol, which, unfortunately people believed to contain elements that could relax babies. However, nowadays we are well aware of the fact that giving alcohol to babies is detrimental to their health. These days, many experts state that lemon dill liquorice, ginger and fennel present in gripe water relieve the gas and stomach discomfort that are alleged held to be a cause of colic in the babies. Barring all these speculations, most experts are of the belief that gripe water may simply work with the babies because it tastes sweet.

Is Gripe Water Safe to Use in Babies?

Is Gripe Water Safe to Use in Babies?

Yes, Gripe water is perfectly safe for usage on babies, as long as it contains zero percent traces of alcohol or sucrose, which might cause tooth decay with continual consumption. However, it is always wise to check with your doctor thoroughly before using gripe water, because all babies are different, and there may be some particular substance in the gripe water, which might cause an unintended effect on the babies. The ingredients used in the making of gripe water are absolute, 100% natural and have no traces of dairy, alcohol, gluten, parabens or soy. Any potential element that might cause any sort irritation of the skin has also been eliminated; hence the formula of Gripe Water is made sure to be of BPA free. As with most products that are used as an enhancement or supplement for any type of ailment or distress in babies, the wisest plan of action is to check in with a physician or a paediatrician before giving it to your infant. Consulting your doctor or your babies’ doctor may help in the process of clearing out and absolutely eradicating any possibilities of undesired effects before using gripe water. It should be noted again and again that without proper medical guidance, gripe water should not be tried out.

Tips For Using Gripe Water in Babies

If your consulted physician or paediatrician gives a thumbs up, then these are some of the steps one must follow while giving gripe water to babies for the first time. These steps ensure safety at its most and are:

  • Firstly, it is imperative that one must without fail read the ingredients chart of the gripe water with utmost care before giving it to babies. Vegetable carbons, such as charcoal, is one of the leading causes of constipation among children, hence parents must be on lookout for any such elements in the gripe water they purchase. It is advisable to only buy from brands and companies that have been made in the US. Also, the gripe water must be free from any and all traces of alcohol and be sucrose free as well.
  • Instructions for the use of gripe water need to be acknowledged properly and thoroughly checked out. Since the ingredients used in the gripe water may vary from one manufacturer to other, the instructions that come along with it may vary as well. Hence before tearing open the box in a hurry, instead of throwing the box away, it is highly crucial that parents read out the instruction label that comes along with the packaging box. There are many gripe water manufacturing brands that recommend waiting for the baby to turn at least one month old before subjecting them to the consumption of gripe water. Mostly, all the gripe water brands come with a warning of how long it can be used for treating the babies for whatever distress or discomfort the baby is going through; hence it is advisable for the parents to read out each and every single word properly, before giving gripe water to their baby.
  • Parents must be on the lookout for any type of allergies that might spring up in their child upon the consumption of gripe water. Although most likely there will be no sudden outbreak of allergies due to consumption of gripe water; there is always a sliver of doubt and uneasiness that remains when giving out new food and drinking substances to the child, and the effect that might be harboured in them; hence, for the betterment of all, parents must look out for any side effects or allergic reaction, no matter how simple it might look, in their baby after giving gripe water. Example for such reactions in babies are: Having trouble in breathing or in the process of swallowing, constant watery eyes, abnormal and sudden swelling of the lips and the tongue, itching, and unsettled stomach causing constant vomiting or sudden cases of diarrhea.

What Is The Right Method Of Using Gripe Water In Babies?

Even though it is considered that gripe water is soft and gentle enough for the consumption of babies as young as two weeks old, however, this fact tends to differ from one gripe water manufacturing brand to another. Not just that, the following are few of the steps that can help to administer the proper manner in which the doses of gripe water may be doled out to the infants by their parents. They are as follows:

Always Use A Dropper: It is advisable to always use a dropper or a dispenser which is calibrated in nature. The other alternative is to put the liquid in an empty bottle to find out its exact measurement. The gripe water liquid should not be mixed with any other liquid at any cost. It is absolutely important for the parents or the guardians to pay attention to this little fact, otherwise, careless handling of the substance may lead to undesired results in the babies’ health. This serving dropper or dispenser may be given with the gripe water box itself, as most companies do for easy product usage by their customers. The parents are also advised to practice using the dropper with water first, and then the use it for gripe water.

Pay Attention To Your Baby’s Position: The infant must be made to sit absolutely upright, and the parents must make sure to have their infant’s head turned to his or her side for optimal sitting posture.

Instil The Gripe Water Slowly: The liquid must be given to the baby slowly, without forcing it on them. This should preferably be done from the side of their mouth to ensure the liquid fully gets inside their mouth. Any form of squirting of gripe water must be avoided; also, parents must not aim for the back of their throat directly, otherwise, they may become nauseous and not swallow the gripe water at all. These steps will avoid gagging of the infants.

Use Small Doses Of Gripe Water: Small doses of the gripe water portion must be given out to the infants. This is to ensure that they fully swallow the gripe water liquid, and it gets enough time to settle down in their stomach. The next dosage of the medicine must be given out to the baby after a short interval of time.

What To Do If Your Baby Starts Gagging On Gripe Water?

If the infant starts showing any sign of gagging in the least, the parents must immediately stop giving out any further gripe water dosages. There have been many such cases where the infant did not initially quite like the taste of the gripe water medicine and hence did not swallow it by rejecting it totally. In cases like this, it is most advisable by the experts for the parents to stop further administering of the gripe water to the babies and instead have them calm down and start soothing their backs.

When the baby has finally calmed down, small doses of gripe water can be given to them again. This process allows the baby to calm down and not get hyper at the new taste of the substance, which is gripe water, being fed to them. The baby gradually starts getting used to the taste of the gripe water and does not reject it or show any gagging syndromes anymore.

Is There Any Alternative To Gripe Water?

If you, as a parent or a guardian, are not very comfortable with the idea of using herbal or natural remedies and medicines to soothe your baby from pain, then the following list may help you give more options to try out:

Gas Drops: Gas drops can be used as an alternative to gripe water for soothing distressed babies. For gas related problems in the baby, gas drops may turn out to be a better remedy than using gripe water for treatment. The question, whether to use gas drops or gripe water for taking care of your baby, must be addressed to your baby’s paediatrician or the physician you always consult with. They are better able to advise and guide you on what to use for your baby.

Massage: Experts believe that a gentle and soothing massage by the parents can help ease the baby’s discomfort and calm their nerves down. A pleasant, mild rub on the baby’s back is a gentle way to reduce the cries arising out of colicky distress. A gentle massage not only provides a very simple and homely measure to curb the baby’s cries, but also serves as a great opportunity to initiate a strong, trustworthy bond between the parent and the child.

Gently Rock Your Baby: Envelop your baby in your arms and keep moving her or him in from side to side. Cuddle your little one by wrapping his/her in a nice, cosy and tight blanket envelope. The parents can also try by rocking the baby in their arms as well as dancing with them, to offer a pleasant distraction as well as a little more comfort and enjoyment.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 17, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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