How safe and effective is gripe water for newborns and babies?
When can I start giving gripe water to my little one?
Is gripe water safe for newborns?
Gripe water is believed to be effective for problems in babies like colic, teething pain and stomach related issues. But many moms still wonder whether gripe water can be given to their babies or not.
“Is gripe water good for babies?” – This question comes to the mind of many new moms who are desperate to give ‘something’ to their babies which will calm and soothe their babies. The widespread belief is that gripe water is considered safe for babies,but you also need to know different aspects of using gripe water before you start giving it to your baby.
This post will help you to get answers to your questions related to gripe water.
But before we delve into that, let me give you a small brief about colic.
What is colic?
Colic is one of the most annoying problems in babies. It can cause babies to cry inconsolably for up to three hours in a day. This can leave new moms helpless. In my case, after my baby was born, I remember asking my mom every day why babies cry a lot for “no reason”.
It is normal for babies to develop gastric problems as their digestive system is not developed completely. Though there are many remedies to make them comfortable, we need to know causes of gas in babies as a preventive measure.
Causes of flatulence in babies:
Babies eat around the clock and it is natural to bowel movements around the clock. Hence, it is quite common for babies to have gassy tummy for the first three months of their life. This is also because their intestines are still maturing.
Flatulence is also seen in babies between 6-12 months old as we introduce many different foods to them for the first time.
There are many factors which cause gas in babies.
Babies can have gas due to the following reasons.
- Certain protein in breast milk or formula
Intolerance to certain proteins is seen in babies. If your baby has gas, then it might be due to presence of some particular protein present in his/her formula or in the breast milk (from your diet).
You can also read the 25 foods to avoid while breast feeding.
- Certain vegetables
Like adults, babies may also develop gassy tummy after intake of certain vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli etc. If you give these vegetables to your baby, give them in small amounts. Also, make sure that they take sufficient water as less water in body is also one of the causes of gas in babies.
Please note that babies below six months do not need extra water.
Gas could happen due to any of the reasons mentioned above. But it is also a fact that all the babies have gas at one time or the other. It is up to us, the supermoms, to know whether the babies are crying due to gas/colic troubles or whether it something else.
You can also read whether your baby’s daily water intake enough.
Signs of colic pain in babies:
If your baby has gas that refuses to pass, he/she may show it by these few specific signs. Look out for these signs in your baby to confirm gas pain in baby.
- Squirming and pulling up his/ her legs
- Arching the back
- Continuous crying
- Passing gas frequently
If you observe any of these symptoms, your baby has colic or reflux problem. Moms dealing with colicky babies are told to use certain remedies. One of the most common remedy for colic is gripe water.
To know more about colic, you can read about it here
What is gripe water?
Let us now take a look at what gripe water is.
Simply put- It is a natural remedy for gas and colic problems in babies.
You might have heard of Woodward’s gripe water. It is a gripe water brand named after its inventor. Gripe water was discovered in 1940 by an American named William Woodward.
So what about gripe water ingredients? Let us discuss the ingredients present in gripe water.
Ingredients in gripe water:
Gripe water was originally a mixture of alcohol, sugar, sodium bicarbonate and water. But the one available in market nowadays are devoid of alcohol and hence can be considered for babies above 6 months. Today gripe water comprises herbs like fennel, dill seed oil and ginger.
Gripe water is sweet in taste and generally liked by most of the babies. It is also available in different flavors like apple, orange etc.
Before we start giving gripe water to our babies, we need to know how gripe water works and helps to relieve colic in babies. Read on to know how gripe water works.
How does gripe water work?
As mentioned earlier, gripe water is a herbal solution given to babies since centuries now.
Natural gripe water is made using aloe vera, chamomile, dill, fennel, ginger, purified water and glycerin. These ingredients help in digestion, softening the tight muscles and make the baby comfortable if he/she is suffering from colic.
Gripe water may also contain sodium bicarbonate. Bicarbonate of soda and dill seed oil in gripe water neutralizes the excess acid in stomach and helps to break down the trapped air bubbles which cause gas, a common symptom of colic problem.
Knowing these benefits of gripe water, moms would be eager to start using gripe water for their babies.
That brings us to the next question.
When can I give gripe water to my baby?
If your baby has no gastric issues and is playful, you may not need to use gripe water at all.
Newborns and babies face gastric troubles, flatulence and bloating as milk is the main and only food for them. So if your baby is crying constantly due to gas and indigestion, you might need to take doctor’s advice on when to start gripe water for your baby.
In olden days moms used to give gripe water as early as one month, but now it is advised that babies below 6 months shouldn’t be given anything other than breast milk.
Some of the pediatricians suggest that it is safe to give gripe water to babies as early as one month if your child needs it. But some say that it is just a placebo. So it is advisable to take a doctor’s view on when to start gripe water for your baby.
Is it safe for newborns?
Gripe water is considered safe until and unless you are not giving it to the babies below 6 months unless your doctor tells you to give it to your child earlier. This is because young digestive system just might not be ready for extra water and the other ingredients. It may also result in allergic reactions if used for babies less than a month old.
Hence, gripe water is considered safe for the babies above 6 months. Many times gripe water also results in allergic reactions or kidney problems for some babies above one month. The allergic reactions may be due to any of the ingredients present in gripe water. So it is required to check a few factors before giving gripe water to your babies.
How to give gripe water for newborns and babies?
If you have decided to give gripe water to your child then the ideal time to give gripe water to babies is 10 minutes after feeding. During this time, digestive system begins to react with the enzymes in milk and sometimes leads to spasm in the gut.
Giving gripe water will provide relief to your baby and improve his/ her digestive system.
You may consult your pediatrician about the dose required for your baby. However, the required dose as per the age of your baby is usually mentioned on the gripe water bottle. So just take the required dose in a dropper and give it to your baby after feed. Most of the babies like the sweet taste of gripe water.
Tips to remember before using gripe water for babies:
As a parent, we seek the best for our child. So always consult a doctor about the required dose for your baby and the things to remember before giving it to your baby.
Here are few tips which would help you to choose the best gripe water for your bundle of joy.
- Prefer using gripe water which is devoid of sodium bicarbonate as it may disturb Ph balance of your baby’s tummy.
- Check the ingredients in gripe water properly. There may be few ingredients to which your baby is intolerant.
- Also look out for the symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, hives, swelling in tongue or lips etc which may be the sign of allergic reactions.
- Consult your doctor is any of these symptoms are observed in your baby.
- Avoid gripe water with vegetable carbon or charcoal as it may result in constipation.
- Don’t give gripe water containing sucrose to the babies as it may cause tooth decay.
- Avoid buying any brand of gripe water which contains alcohol as it is not safe for babies.
- Read all the instructions given along with the gripe water and follow every step carefully.
- It is best to choose the gripe water made from herbal oils for your baby.
- Don’t forget to check for expiry date whenever you buy anything from medical store. This is even more important when you are purchasing baby product like gripe water as babies have very sensitive immune system.
- It is always advisable to go for a trusted brand. There are many brands of gripe water presently available in market. So make sure you consult with your doctor before choosing the right gripe water brand.
I am very sure that these tips would help you to choose right gripe water for your baby.
Gripe water will calm and soothe your baby in case of teething pain, gastric problems due to indigestion, gas etc. If your baby is crying due to colic issues, he/she would be calm and relaxed after giving gripe water. If he/she continues crying uncontrollably even after giving gripe water, it indicates some other problem. It is better to consult your pediatrician if something like this happens.
To calm your crying baby, I will also share a few alternatives to gripe water which you may use for babies who are allergic to gripe water or cries even after giving gripe water.
Why many pediatricians are against giving gripe water?
Many child practitioners may suggest you not to give gripe water to your babies. Do you know why? This is due to one of its ingredients, Sodium benzoate.
Sodium benzoate can alter the normal PH balance of your baby’s body. Moreover, it is also believed to damage DNA at little extent and may lead to neural damage in future. So, It is always recommended that you take note of advices given by your doctor. Even if, you are buying gripe water, make sure that it contains safe ingredients.
You can also avoid use of gripe water to your babies if you wish. For that, take a glance at alternative methods to gripe water.
Alternatives to gripe water for newborns:
As mentioned above, gripe water doesn’t suit every baby. So the parents of these babies can use alternative methods to handle tummy problems in their babies.
I always believe that massaging your baby is a great opportunity to get better mother-baby bonding. A relaxing, firm and gentle massage is also a wonderful remedy to treat colicky baby. So massaging is number one alternative to gripe water.
- Swaddle him
If your baby cries, sometimes all he needs is some warmth and safe feeling of swaddling. Wrap him in a warm blanket and rock him gently in your arms singing a lullaby.
Take him outside for some fresh air and try to relax him. This will give him soothing effect and calm him easily.
- Switch formula
Sometimes the root cause of gas may be the formula feed or the cow’s milk you are giving to your baby. It may not be suiting him/her. In this case, switching formula from what you use to another may help you to resolve the issue.
You may also choose hypoallergenic formulas which do not cause any allergy or side effects. The only drawback is they are about 3 times costlier than the normal formula feed.
- Tummy pressure
Many gassy babies find relief when tummy pressure is applied. For this, you can simply put your baby face down on your lap giving support to his head and gently pat his back.
You can also make him sit up on your lap with his tummy against your hand, and then gently rub his back.
If your baby cries continuously even after using these tips, distracting may help you. Try singing a song/ lori or calmly hum soft music which your baby might love.
Babies love to hear their mom’s voice. It ensures them that they are safe which relaxes and comforts them.
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Colic is not the end of the world, although you may feel it is. With the right gripe water you can treat colic like just another minor childhood boo hoo.
Gripe water for newborns and infants can be unsafe if given without the consultation of a pediatrician. Breast milk, feeding in the proper position and adequate burping are required to soothe the colicky baby.
Gripe water for babies of 6 months and above is safe as long as the ingredients are safe and don’t cause any allergies in your baby. Make sure you are giving the right dose according to your child’s age.
Apart from that make sure you ask your child’s pediatrician before you give your child any OTC medicine. So next time your baby cries due to colic, try the alternative tips given to calm down your baby. If it doesn’t work and your doctor has suggested gripe water, give the right dose to your child.
Remember, patience is the key to successful parenthood. If your baby doesn’t stop crying, instead of getting frustrated try to understand the cause of his cry. It is just a phase; your baby will soon outgrow this phase too.
“Be patient. The storm will pass and spring will come!”
Enjoy each and every phase of your baby’s growth to enjoy the joyride of parenthood in true way.
I hope this article on gripe water for newborns and babies was informative.
Have you given gripe water for babies? Did you use any other natural methods for your baby’s colic?
Share your views and comments in comments section. Happy parenting!