What is Gripe Water?
Gripe water is a liquid remedy that has been used for generations to help soothe colicky babies. The main ingredients in gripe water typically include sodium bicarbonate, ginger, fennel, chamomile, and other herbs and spices. The sodium bicarbonate helps to neutralize stomach acid, while the herbs provide calming properties. Gripe water is available over-the-counter and does not require a prescription. It’s considered safe for babies when used as directed.
What is Colic?
Colic is defined as excessive, frequent crying in an otherwise healthy baby under 3 months of age. Symptoms of colic include crying that lasts for more than 3 hours per day, crying that occurs more than 3 days per week for at least 1 week, and crying that is inconsolable. Colic typically appears at around 2-3 weeks of age and resolves on its own by 3-4 months of age. The exact cause of colic is unknown, but theories include intestinal gas, food sensitivities, and immature gut and nervous systems. Colic is diagnosed when other causes of crying such as hunger, reflux, or illness have been ruled out.
Does Gripe Water Help Soothe Colicky Babies?
There is some evidence that gripe water may help soothe colicky babies, however results are mixed. Here is an overview of what the research says:
– A 2016 review of 4 studies found that gripe water reduced crying time in babies with colic compared to a placebo after 2 weeks of treatment. However, the studies had limitations in their methods.
– A 2015 study compared gripe water to a placebo in 60 colicky babies over a 1 week period. It found the gripe water group cried about 1 hour less per day than the placebo group.
– A 2014 study in 80 colicky babies found no significant difference in crying after 1 week between infants given gripe water and those given a placebo.
– A systematic review of studies on colic treatments concluded there is limited evidence that gripe water works for colic. However, the studies done so far have been low quality.
– According to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Health in the UK, there is no strong evidence gripe water has any benefit for treating colic beyond the placebo effect. However, it is generally considered safe when used for short periods.
So in summary, there is some evidence gripe water may help reduce crying from colic, but the evidence is not definitive. It appears gripe water is unlikely to completely eliminate colic but may help soothe some babies to a degree. More rigorous research is still needed.
How is Gripe Water Thought to Work?
Gripe water is thought to help colic through a few different mechanisms:
– **Neutralizing stomach acid** – The sodium bicarbonate in gripe water can help neutralize stomach acid, which may relieve pain associated with reflux or gas.
– **Relaxing effect of herbs** – Ingredients like fennel, ginger, chamomile and lemon balm have calming properties. They may directly help relax the baby’s stomach and gastrointestinal system.
– **Placebo effect** – The ritual of giving the baby gripe water may provide a placebo effect that calms the parents. When parents feel less stressed, that in turn may help calm the baby.
However, it’s not fully proven that any of these proposed mechanisms are directly responsible for gripe water’s effects. Research is still needed to understand exactly how it may work in babies with colic.
What are the Side Effects of Gripe Water?
Gripe water is generally considered safe when given in proper dosages. However potential minor side effects can include:
– Excessive burping or flatulence, from the release of gas bubbles after taking it. This is usually harmless.
– Mild diarrhea or loose stools, from the ingredients acting as laxatives. This typically resolves on its own.
– Drowsiness, from the calming herbal ingredients.
– Upset stomach, nausea or vomiting in some babies. This may be from certain ingredients.
There are also a few precautions with gripe water:
– It contains sugar, so it’s advised not to give it before bedtime or allow teething babies to drink it straight from the bottle.
– The sodium content can be high in some brands, so it’s important to give the proper dose.
– Certain herbs like anise, licorice and mint are not safe for infants and should not be ingredients. Check the label.
– Gripe water should not be used in babies with galactosemia, a rare metabolic disorder.
Overall gripe water is considered very low risk when given for short periods, but it’s always best to consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns of side effects in your baby.
What’s the Recommended Dosage for Gripe Water?
The dosage recommendations for gripe water depend on the specific brand and product. Here are general guidelines:
– For newborns to 3 months: 5-10 mL, 2-6 times per day
– For babies 4-8 months: 10-20 mL, 2-6 times per day
– For babies 9-12 months: 20-40 mL, 2-6 times per day
Dosages are usually incremental, starting with a small amount and increasing slowly if needed. No more than 6 doses should be given in 24 hours. Look closely at the packaging since formulations vary – some are concentrated and require less volume. Avoid giving undiluted gripe water from the bottle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
The best approach is to give it 30 minutes before or after feeding, and allow at least 2 hours before the next dose. Consult your pediatrician if you need guidance finding the optimal dosage schedule. Stop using gripe water if you see any signs of side effects.
How Soon Can Gripe Water Be Given to Newborns?
Most experts recommend waiting until a baby is at least 1 month old before giving gripe water. The ingredients and effects have not been studied much in newborns under 4 weeks old. Some pediatricians may say it’s safe after 2 weeks, but the general guideline is to wait until 1 month to start gripe water.
The main reasons it’s ideal to wait are:
– **Kidney function** – Newborns have immature kidneys that are still developing filtration ability. The herbs and preservatives in gripe water may not be filtered effectively.
– **Digestive system** – Babies under 1 month old have very new digestive systems that are just learning to coordinate sucking, swallowing and digestion. Gripe water could disrupt this delicate balance.
– **Dose accuracy** – Finding the right gripe water dosage is challenging in tiny newborns. It may be easier for parents to accurately dose after the first month.
– **Other causes** – Colic-like fussiness in very young infants can actually be caused by other issues like reflux, food intolerances or normal development. It’s important to rule those out before trying gripe water.
While some pediatricians say it’s acceptable to use gripe water at 2-3 weeks, the benefits likely outweigh any potential risks starting at 1 month old. Of course, discuss your specific case with your baby’s doctor.
What are the Best Gripe Water Brands?
Some top gripe water brands include:
– **Woodward’s Gripe Water** – A leading brand since 1851. It contains ginger, fennel, baking soda and 9% alcohol.
– **Wellements Gripe Water** – An organic brand with fennel, ginger, chamomile and lemon balm. It’s non-GMO, alcohol-free and vegan.
– **Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water** – A popular alcohol-free choice. Key ingredients are ginger, fennel, lemon balm and chamomile.
– **The Genius Brand Gripe Water** – Advertised as a “bio-organic” formula with ginger, fennel, chamomile and 12% alcohol.
– **ColicCalm Gripe Water** – Specifically marketed for colic and gas pain. Main ingredients are ginger, fennel, chamomile, lemon balm and 9% alcohol.
When choosing a brand, look for ones that align with your preferences in terms of ingredients, alcohol content, sweeteners, and organic certification. Read reviews of other parents’ experiences with different products as well.
Are There Any Homemade Recipes for Gripe Water?
There are many homemade recipes for gripe water available online and passed down through generations. However, experts strongly recommend using commercial products rather than homemade versions.
Reasons homemade gripe water is not advised:
– Achieving the proper concentrations of ingredients like baking soda and herbs at home is very challenging. Too little may have no effect, while too much can be dangerous.
– Herbs can have different potencies based on factors like when they were harvested and stored. It’s impossible to achieve a standardized dose at home.
– Bacterial contamination is a risk when making any consumable product at home. The pH and alcohol content in commercial gripe water helps prevent microbial growth.
– Getting the recipe wrong could result in side effects, overdose risks, or allergic reactions if ingredients like chamomile, mint or licorice slip in.
– Sodium content needs to be regulated carefully and listed clearly for infants. Homemade preparations wouldn’t include sodium levels.
The CDC strongly warns against giving any homemade supplements or herbal preparations to infants due to extreme safety risks. While homemade gripe water recipes may seem appealing, it’s not worth the gamble with an infant’s health. Follow pediatrician recommendations and only use store-bought, time-tested gripe water brands.
Are There Any Alternatives to Gripe Water for Colic?
There are a few evidence-based alternative remedies that may help soothe a colicky baby other than gripe water:
– May improve gut health and reduce gas-related colic. Look for specific strains like Lactobacillus reuteri. Give as drops.
– Helps break up gas bubbles. Brands like Mylicon are common. Give dosage for baby’s weight before feedings.
– For colic related to food proteins, a dairy or soy elimination diet may help. Discuss trying this for 2-4 weeks.
– Snugly swaddling can calm babies by preventing startling and making them feel secure. Use breathable muslin wraps.
– Loud white noise mimics the sounds babies hear in the womb. Try white noise machines, apps, fans or running showers.
– Rocking, swaying, swinging, and going for stroller or car rides may help soothe colicky babies.
– Gentle tummy massage in a clockwise motion can help relax the digestive system. Use oil to reduce friction.
– Warm baths can gently relax tense muscles. Keep water around body temperature and sessions brief to prevent chilling.
Always discuss trying alternatives or combining remedies with your pediatrician to develop the right colic management plan for your baby.
When Should You Call the Doctor About Colic?
Contact your pediatrician if:
– Crying escalates and remains completely inconsolable for more than 3 hours
– Your baby develops additional symptoms like fever, breathing issues, vomiting, or bloody stool
– Colic symptoms do not start to improve after the first 4 months
– You have concerns that your baby is not eating or sleeping enough due to colic
– You feel overwhelmed, exhausted or unable to cope
While colic is common and expected to resolve, it’s still essential to touch base with your doctor to rule out other problems. Signs of dehydration, failure to gain weight, and caregiver burnout warrant a discussion with your pediatrician. Don’t hesitate to call for help and support.
When Does Colic Typically Peak?
Colic symptoms tend to peak in intensity somewhere around 5-8 weeks of age. The period of 6-8 weeks is often cited as the most difficult in terms of inconsolable crying. After hitting this peak, colic will generally start to slowly improve.
However, the progression is not the same for all babies. Some see a dramatic increase right at 6 weeks then an equally dramatic drop in symptoms after a “peak week.” Others have a more gradual escalation and tapering colic pattern over 2-3 months. There can also be ups and downs along the way.
While most babies begin resolving colic by month 4, about 10-15% of colicky babies will see symptoms persist past 4 months. This is called persistent crying syndrome. If colic is still not improving after the 4 month mark, be sure to follow up with your pediatrician to investigate possible underlying causes.
What Can Make Colic Worse?
Certain factors may exacerbate colic in babies who have a tendency towards it:
– **Overstimulation** – Too much noise, light, motion, interaction, or interrupted sleep periods can overtax a colicky baby’s nervous system.
– **Difficulty passing gas** – Anything that contributes to gas pain like gulping milk or insufficient burping can make crying worse. Some babies have chronic gas issues.
– **Food sensitivities** – Allergies to proteins like dairy or soy can trigger digestive issues leading to pain.
– **Gastroesophageal reflux** – The acid backup of GERD can cause burning pain and crying. Colic and reflux often coincide.
– **Tobacco smoke** – Secondhand smoke is linked to increased crying and extra-sensitive temperaments. Smoke residue can also upset baby’s stomachs.
– **Illness** – Ear infections, viruses, teething pain, and other ailments can aggravate crying in babies prone to colic.
Keeping an eye on lifestyle factors and potential medical triggers can help uncover the source of worsening colic. Alert your doctor about any causes that seem to ramp up your baby’s symptoms.
When Does Colic Usually Resolve?
Colic will typically start to improve around 3-4 months and fully resolve by 4-5 months of age. The excessive crying of colic gradually decreases and disappears over this period as the baby outgrows this stage.
Up to approximately 15% of colicky babies will continue crying intensely past 4 months of age. This is called persistent crying syndrome or persistent colicky crying. If colic symptoms have not fade by 4 months, bring this up to your pediatrician to discuss possible underlying causes and different management approaches to try.
While colic eventually resolves in all babies, the experience of having a severely colicky infant can be exhausting and stressful for families. Seek help from your pediatrician, lactation consultants, parenting support groups, or trusted relatives if colic is taking a toll. Remember that colic is temporary even though it may not feel that way in the thick of it.
Can Colic Lead to Long-Term Problems?
Reassuringly, colic itself does not cause any long-term health or developmental problems according to research. Babies who had colic are no more likely than other babies to have medical issues, behavior disorders, sleep troubles, or attachment issues later on. The inconsolable crying of colic generally does not reflect pain or distress in the baby.
However, having a baby with colic can potentially impact caregivers’ mental health and parenting skills. Possible long-term issues include:
– Parental depression, stress, or anxiety
– Disrupted family relationships
– Lack of confidence in parenting abilities
– Overly permissive parenting style due to guilt
– Poorer parent-child bonding
Getting support and taking breaks is key to preventing caregiver burnout and potential psychological effects. While colic itself does not harm babies long-term, supporting families through it is vital.
In summary, while gripe water is not a miracle cure, it may offer some soothing relief for a colicky baby when used correctly. Many parents feel it takes the edge off and provides small periods of calm. However, its effects are relatively modest, and results vary from one baby to the next. Gripe water alone will not eliminate colic but can be one piece of a repertoire of comfort measures. It is just one possible tool to get through the challenging colic phase, which will ultimately pass with time. Consult your pediatrician about your particular case to help decide if gripe water is worth trying.
|Type of Colic Relief||What It Does|
|Gripe water||Herbal ingredients like fennel and ginger may have calming properties on baby’s digestion|
|Probiotics||May improve gut health and digestion|
|Simethicone||Breaks up gas bubbles in the GI tract|
|Elimination diets||Removes proteins that may irritate baby’s stomach|
|Swaddling||Calms babies through sensation of feeling secure|
|White noise||Soothes and masks disruptive ambient sounds|