Gripe water for newborns has been advised by every mom and mom-in-law since ages. This age old remedy for gas troubles is talked about as if it's a miracle cure. But is this really the case? Experts weigh in.
What are the contents of gripe water for baby gas?
Gripe water is a common over-the-counter water-based supplement given to sooth flatulence, colicky pains, teething pain and hiccups in babies. It was made commercially available by a British pharmacist William Woodward back in the 19th century. During the 1840s, there was an outbreak of malaria in England and doctors formulated a medical compound to treat it. They noticed that the medicine was able to soothe babies with tummy problems and this formula was noticed and modified by Woodward to make it commercially available.
The original formula contained water, dill oil, fennel seed oil, sugar, sodium bicarbonate and 3.6% alcohol. But today, manufacturers have dropped alcohol entirely from the composition due to opposition from the medical fraternity.
What are the uses of gripe water for toddlers?
Gripe water is routinely used for these troubles:
- Colic pains: Gripe water is mainly used to soothe colicky pains in infants and toddlers.
- Fretful and anxious babies: Babies that tend to become anxious because of pain or shock are comforted with gripe water. It works the same way as it does for colic in babies.
- Other baby tummy problems: Gripe water is frequently advised for babies with digestive tract troubles, gas or flatulence, acidity and sometimes even constipation.
- Teething: Tooth eruption can lead to irritation in babies making them cranky. The crying makes the baby swallow a lot of air bloating the abdomen with gas and causing tummy troubles.
- Hiccups: Hiccups occur due to irritation of the diaphragm caused by indigestion, acid reflux or flatulence.
How to feed gripe water to baby?
Gripe water must be given only when the baby shows symptoms that cannot be relieved by other means. It is highly recommended to talk to your pediatrician first before giving gripe water to an infant while it is being exclusively breastfed. Some manufacturers also recommend it to be given to infants under two weeks which is very controversial.
Always give gripe water using a teaspoon or a dropper. Gripe water usually shows effects within a few minutes but it also depends on the age of the baby and the intensity of symptoms. Gripe water can be given once or twice a day or as advised by a pediatrician or your family physician. Do not give gripe water after its expiry date.
Is gripe water for babies safe?
- There is no scientific evidence that gripe water is safe or unsafe for the baby. Early formulas of gripe water contained alcohol which is definitely bad for the baby’s health. Today’s formulas do not contain alcohol but instead have been other substances like parabens, vegetable carbons which can be equally harmful.
- Other ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, if consumed in excess, can lead to a condition known as milk alkali syndrome. In the long run, it can harm the babies’ kidneys. So ensure you use gripe water only rarely.
- Dill oil and fennel oil are the only ingredients in gripe water that can be deemed safe for baby consumption. Indian formulations even contain mint oil to give an additional soothing effect.
Gripe water can be given if given a green signal by your pediatrician. Make an informed choice after consulting a pediatrician.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.