As a parent or caregiver, it is difficult to see your baby crying for hours on end. Colic can be a major cause of pain and discomfort in your baby, which can be due to a buildup of gas in your baby’s tummy or intestines.
Most babies who experience colic have especially severe symptoms during the second half of the day, and increasingly more during late evening or night. Although symptoms usually subside by the time your baby is about six months old, colic can be distressing for the baby and mother, especially in the first three months.
Often, as a quick way to ease the baby’s discomfort, most parents reach out for that bottle of gripe water. But is it always safe?
Gripe Water: A Possible Solution to Your Baby’s Colic
How Gripe Water Works
Gripe water is a non-prescription liquid supplement that consists of various herbs such as ginger, chamomile, cinnamon, licorice, fennel, peppermint, and sodium bicarbonate as well. The exact ingredients may vary depending on the specific formula or the brand. Even though gripe water is mainly used to soothe colic in babies, it is also sometimes used to ease a baby’s teething pains.
There is no scientific evidence that suggests that gripe water can actually help soothe your baby’s pain and flatulence. It is extremely important to first speak to your baby’s doctor before you start using it. The herbs used in the gripe water reduce flatulence and gas in babies, which relieves the discomfort and pain. [1,2]
Safety Concerns and Precautions for Gripe Water
While it is considered safe, make sure you use one which does not contain sucrose or alcohol. The USFDA recently issued a warning asking parents not to use the brand Baby’s Bliss Gripe Water as it was found to contain Cryptosporidium.  Cryptosporidium is a parasite that affects the intestines and can lead to cryptosporidiosis, a type of diarrhea.  While watery diarrhea is the most common symptom, it can also cause fever, vomiting and stomach pain. Always ensure
- Check the ingredients and stay away from anything that contains alcohol or sucrose. Also avoid anything that contains vegetable carbon (charcoal), as it may cause constipation.
- Read all the instructions carefully and check the age specifications. Some brands may warn you not to give it to babies who are less than a month old, may vary about dosage, or till when to continue.
- That you give your baby one dose of gripe water and wait a day or two to check for any allergies.
How To Make Gripe Water At Home
Don’t trust the ingredients corporations like Baby Bliss puts in their products? Here’s how you can make gripe water at home.
- Take a teaspoon each of freshly grated ginger, fennel seeds, dill weed, chamomile and peppermint and place them in a tea infuser. Place it in a cup and pour hot water over it. Let it steep for 10 minutes.
- Once cool, give it to your baby one teaspoon at a time and not more than two teaspoons in a day. Initially, you can dilute it with a little water to get your baby used to it. You can also add a teaspoon of organic raw cane sugar to make it a little sweet for your baby.
- Ginger and peppermint will soothe digestion and relieve inflammation, fennel will soothe the colon and help release any buildup of gas and dill weed and chamomile helps reduce indigestion.
Other Alternatives For Gripe Water
- Try changing your baby’s formula to one that does not contain cow’s milk.
- Massage your baby’s tummy—mix a pinch of asafetida to a tsp of warm water and make a runny paste. Make sure that the mix is warm and massage it with light strokes on your baby’s tummy and navel area to release gas.
- Swaddle your baby and gently massage their back to help release gas and soothe pain.
1. About Woodwards Gripe Water And How It Works. Site http://www.nhs.uk/Medicine-Guides/Pages/MedicineOverview.aspx?medicine=Woodwards%20Gripe%20Water (Accessed 26 Aug 2015)
2. Gripe Water: What Is It? Why Is It Given? 1: Illingworth C, Timmins J. Gripe water: what is it? Why is it given? Health Visit. 1990 Nov;63(11):378. PubMed PMID: 2266018. (Accessed on 26 Aug 2015)
3. FDA Warns Consumers About The Risk of Cryptosporidium Illness from Baby’s Bliss Gripe Water. Site http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2007/ucm108990.htm (Accessed 26 Aug 2015)
4. Cryptosporidiosis. Site http://www.medicinenet.com/cryptosporidiosis/article.htm (Accessed 26 Aug 2015)