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Gripe Water: Does It Work? Which Brand Is Best? Is It Safe?

You have your beautiful newborn baby. The first week or two, baby just eats, sleeps, poops, and cuddles. Aaah. Why do people complain so much about babies crying? Then the gas hits. Your baby is miserable despite your efforts (massage, leg bicycles and other burping techniques). In desperation, you stumble upon Gripe Water and wonder…

What is gripe water?
Does it works?
Which brand is best?
Can you make your own?

In this post, we’ll cover all of this and more.

But, first thing’s first…

Why Is My Baby Gassy?

Babies aren’t born with fully developed digestive systems—that’s one of the reasons they don’t start eating solid foods until at least six months. The sphincter in their esophagus is underdeveloped, which stops babies from burping up trapped air by themselves. That gas can also make its way into the intestines, causing belly discomfort.

What Is Gripe Water?

If your baby is struggling with gas pain, the pediatrician may recommend gripe water.

The original formula was a combination of dill seed oil, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and alcohol, among other substances. Back in the 1840s, physicians used it to treat a form of malaria in babies.

Today, it’s most commonly used to relieve babies’ gas and indigestion. Some brands also tout it as a solution for teething pain, hiccups, and colic.

How Does Gripe Water Work?

There is no one recipe for gripe water, but most have some combination of the following:

Fennel: Packed with dietary fiber, fennel provides the bulk the digestive tract needs to encourage the gastrointestinal muscles to push things through.  
Ginger: Ginger known to help relieve GI irritation, but it can also help stimulate saliva and bile production to help food move through the stomach.
Chamomile: Used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and healing herb, chamomile is commonly used to treat gas, diarrhea, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. It has also been used to treat croup, colic, and fevers in children.
Licorice: Recent studies in China have shown licorice’s beneficial compounds to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting effects.
Cinnamon: Reported as being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, lipid-lowering, and cardiovascular-disease-lowering compound, this spice is a popular addition to many homeopathic treatments.
Lemon balm: With its wide range of antioxidants that boost various systems in the body, lemon balm is known for its ability to detoxify the liver, protect the immune system, and promote healthy sleep, among other things.

All of these ingredients are considered to be soothing herbs to heal indigestion and inflammation.

Is Gripe Water Safe? Does Gripe Water Have Any Side Effects?

No matter how natural the ingredients are, you are essentially “introducing a solid” to your baby at a very young age. As one author wrote in The Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics,

Anything (including gripe water) other than breast milk administered to a baby during the first six months may increase the risk of introducing bacteria, causing allergies and irritating the baby’s intestines.

Most healthcare professionals will tell you it’s perfectly safe, and in the grand scheme of things, it is. However, some lactation consultants recommend mamas consume these soothing herbs in teas (like popular fennel and chamomile teas), so that the baby gets benefits through breast milk.

If you are formula feeding, try a different formula as this could be what is causing baby gas. In some instances, this can be a game changer!

Always talk to your healthcare provider about administering anything to your baby, particularly a newborn.

Gripe Water Ingredients

The formula has changed quite a bit over the years, swapping alcohol, sugar, and other artificial flavors for more natural, baby-safe ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside. Here are three popular gripe water brands and their ingredients.

#1 Highest Ranking*: Little Remedies Gripe Water (where to buy)

Zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) seed extract, purified water, agave vegetable glycerin (a humectant and sweetener), glycerin, natural ginger flavor, potassium sorbate (preservative), citric acid (emulsifier and preservative), xanthan gum (thickener)

#2 Favorite*: Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water (where to buy)

Organic Ginger Extract, Organic Passion Flower Extract, Organic Lemon Balm Extract, Organic Chamomile Extract, Organic Fennel Extract, Purified Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Citrus Bioflavonoid Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, and Potassium Sorbate

#3 Brand*: Wellement’s Organic Gripe Water (where to buy)

Water, Organic Ginger Root Extract (Zingiber Officinale), Organic Fennel Seed Extract (Foeniculum Vulgare), Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate, Organic Glycerin, Organic Lemon Juice Powder, Sodium Bicarbonate and Organic Chamomile Flower Extract.

*According to Amazon.com customer reviews

Other ingredients

You may notice some additional ingredients to just digestive herbs. Here are the functions they serve:

Vegetable glycerin – a humectant and sweetener
Potassium sorbate – a preservative
Citric acid – an emulsifier and preservative
Xanthan gum – a thickener
Agave nectar or glycerin – a sweetener

Homemade Gripe Water Recipe

As with any natural remedy, the best gripe water is usually the one you make yourself, ensuring quality ingredients and avoiding preservatives. Here is an easy recipe that includes soothing and digestive herbs.

*Always get your healthcare provider’s approval before administering this gripe water.*

Ingredients:

2 c. purified water
1 slice (about the size of a quarter) fresh, peeled, organic ginger
1 tea bag of organic chamomile tea or 2 tsps. of loose organic chamomile.
1 tea bag of organic fennel tea or 2 tsps. of organic fennel seeds
1 tsp. dried cumin seeds
1 tsp. dried organic dill
If you feel you need to add sweetener, you could try 1 tsp. of organic lactose, which is found abundantly in breast milk and formula

Instructions:

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan or tea kettle.
Put the ginger and herbs/seeds/tea bags in a glass jar.
Remove the water from the heat and pour into the glass jar.
Allow to steep for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the tea bags. Strain the remaining water into a clean glass container.
Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze into smaller portions.
Shake well before use. Can be put in a syringe and added directly to mouth or bottle.

Dosage:

● 0-3 months: 1/2 tsp. (2.5 mL)
● 3-6 months: 1 tsp. (5 mL)
● 6-12 months: 2 tsp. (10 mL)

Shake thoroughly before using, and do not exceed six dosages in a 24-hour period.
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Other Baby Gas Alternatives

If you’re not too keen on gripe water, there are some other natural alternatives.

Simethicone: Another gas-relieving remedy made by many of the same brands that carry gripe water. This anti-foaming agent works by reducing tensions surface of the mucus, allowing trapped air bubbles to disperse. Some studies have shown that Simethicone can help reduce gas with no adverse side effects.
Nat Phos 6X: This natural digestive cell salt supports the body in breaking down acids and balancing acid levels. The only ingredient is lactose—something babies are quite accustomed to through breast milk or formula.
Infant massage: Rub baby’s belly in gentle circular motions to push out those gas bubbles. Infant massage is also a great way to connect with and soothe your baby. 
Mama’s diet: Remember, baby is eating what you’re eating. Start by cutting out some of the more popular allergens one at a time, such as dairy or soy.
Burping: A pat on the back not working? Here are 13 ways to successfully burp your baby.

How About You?

Have you tried gripe water? Did it help? What other natural ways did you give your own gassy babies some relief?

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297971/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356971/#ref3
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/simethicone

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