Being a parent means always being one step ahead of the curve. It is a natural instinct to want the best for your child and to want to protect them from any harm. Used for centuries and formulated in England during the 1800’s, gripe water was given to babies for its soothing elements.
Before you enlist the help of any remedies or supplements, it is important to understand all of the components involved. Gripe water is a holistic approach to treating many ailments such as indigestion, gas, teething pain, and even colic (excessive crying). This substance is said to be an all-around positive way to help your baby maintain an orderly balance.
How Safe is Gripe Water for Babies & Newborns?
What Is It Made Of?
Understanding the ingredients of gripe water will give you an idea of the way that it can soothe your baby. At its core, it contains a mixture of different herbs such as chamomile, cinnamon, lemon balm, ginger, fennel, and licorice.
These are the natural components of the water. Be aware that some brands contain sugars or alcohol, which can be damaging and may even cause early tooth decay. Also, pay attention to the artificial flavoring that may be included.
Many of the first traditional formulas contained these damaging ingredients. There are now more organic versions for sale that tend to be healthier for your baby.
A few other notable ingredients to look out for are peppermint and baking soda. While these are not detrimental to ingest, they may be harsh on your baby’s stomach. Baking soda is known to produce too much alkaline, therefore causing a pH imbalance in the stomach.
Peppermint is also known to be hard for babies to digest; it can potentially worsen acid reflux symptoms, causing discomfort. A few other ingredients that may cause irritation are gluten, parabens, and dairy. This is why it is important to carefully review the label.
How to Administer Gripe Water
Normally, babies enjoy the taste of gripe water on its own. It is known to be pleasant and easy to drink. While it may seem logical to mix the water into food or formula, it is thought to be most effective when taken alone.
Giving your baby gripe water immediately after feeding is normally the best way to ensure the ease of digestion. Most sources suggest that gripe water can be given to infants starting at 1-month and over.
Most bottles of gripe water will come with a dropper for administering. The easiest way to use this is by sitting your baby upright and placing the liquid towards the inside of the cheek. Turn the head slightly sideways.
If necessary, you can practice this using regular water in the dropper as well so that your baby can get used to the sensation. Try not to release the liquid too quickly or near the back of the throat, this will cause your baby to choke and activate the gag reflex.
Side Effects of Gripe Water
With any medication, there comes a list of side effects. An important factor to consider is the chance of an allergic reaction. This is probably one of the most common side effects of gripe water ingestion.
If you are unsure if your baby is allergic to any of the ingredients, test a very small amount at first so that you can work your way up to a full dose. Your doctor may also be able to run an allergy test.
If your baby begins to vomit, appears itchy, or changes his/her patterns of breathing, this may be a sign of an allergic reaction. You should also look out for signs of any rashes or hives that begin to develop after consumption.
If you suspect that an allergic reaction is happening, discontinue use and schedule a visit to your doctor. In some rare cases, severe allergic reaction symptoms can cause swelling of the tongue and airway blockage. In this case, dial 911 and get help immediately.
There is also the potential that gripe water can cause adverse effects. If you notice that your baby begins having diarrhea after consumption, it is not going to have the same soothing power.
Certain infants are going to be more sensitive than others. Again, it is advised that gripe water is only given to a baby once their immune system has had a little bit of time to develop. Starting out too young will heighten any of the potential side effects.
How Safe Is Gripe Water?
Gripe water is normally not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). While this is not technically a dealbreaker, it should be kept in mind. These non-regulated medicines do not need to report side effects to its consumers.
Technically, gripe water is classified as a dietary supplement. It is known that supplements are not as strictly regulated as prescription medication. This is why having a keen eye for detail is going to be helpful when making a selection. Any medicine at the pharmacy will have labels indicating its regulation that you can look out for.
There are certain formulas of gripe water that do require FDA approval, and they can be sold over-the-counter as a “homeopathic drug.” Is there a difference between the regulated vs. non-regulated versions? Overall, not really.
The principal is the same, and merely the quality of the ingredients is what will vary. If you are not certain, bring the topic up to your doctor before making a final decision.
If you feel that the benefits of gripe water can soothe your child, research the different brands available on the market. Most of them will have websites where you can read reviews from real consumers.
Overall, the consensus is that gripe water should be given with caution. If you have any uncertainties, it is always advised to consult your pediatrician before starting your baby on anything new.
Once you have carefully selected a formula, you may administer it to your baby as you see fit. The benefits of the water will soothe your child and allow for a calm and happy demeanor.