Many families turn to gripe water in the hope of a magic cure for their colicky baby. But can gripe water help colic?
What is gripe water?
Gripe water is an over the counter liquid remedy to help aid colic in babies which usually contains a mix of herbs and sodium bicarbonate.
It can be overwhelming for parents when there is such a large range of colic remedies available. In this article, I am going to run through the most popular gripe waters and tell you what they contain and how they work to settle your crying baby.
Woodwards Gripe Water for Colic
Woodwards contains dill oil, which is claimed to settle griping tummies by soothing the muscles. It also contains sodium bicarbonate (baking powder) which is thought to neutralise stomach acid. However, the sodium bicarbonate can cause a chemical reaction with the stomach acid in your baby’s tummy. It can create more gas, making your baby’s colic worse. This gripe water can be administered to babies from the age of 1 month old.
Colic Calm is a popular gripe water for colic in the US and now gaining popularity in the UK. What makes this gripe water different from the rest, is that it does not contain sodium bicarbonate. It only contains natural ingredients such as fennel, ginger, chamomile and peppermint. These herbs are known to aid and calm the digestive system. It also uses blackthorn and vegetable carbon which is understood to promote the absorption and expulsion of gas. This gives the tonic it’s black tar like consistency. Colic Calm can be given to babies from the age of 2 weeks.
This gripe water contains fennel and ginger to settle and soothe little tummies but it also contains sodium bicarbonate. It also contains potassium sorbate as a preservative. The manufacturer recommends giving this tonic to babies from 2 weeks old.
Boots Gripe Water
Boots chemist has it’s own gripe water, which is apple flavoured. The active ingredient is sodium bicarbonate and it contains corn syrup (maltitol liquid), amongst other E numbers. It doesn’t contain any herbs or other natural ingredients.
Is Gripe Water safe?
These tonics are a more natural alternative, (some more than others, as you can see above) than other colic relief products such as Infacol or Dentinox. In these colic remedies, the main active ingredient is a chemical.
The breastfed baby
It is not recommended to give a breast fed baby anything but breast milk. In an medical journal published in 2012, it claimed that during a baby’s first six moths giving her anything other than breast milk (including gripe water), may increase the risk of introducing bacteria. This would affect the baby’s microbiome which is vital for health of the gut and baby’s immune system. In order to protect baby’s gut, bacteria needs to be introduced in a certain order to minimise the potential for allergies and irritating baby’s intestines.
It is recommended that the mother takes any tonic herself so that the soothing effects are passed to the baby via the breast milk. Drinking fennel tea and chamomile tea can be effective in soothing a baby who is fussy or is struggling with trapped wind.
The formula fed baby
I would recommend opting for the most natural ingredients for your baby who is struggling with colic symptoms. Always read the label to see what you are giving your baby, and follow the instructions.
Trapped Wind and Colic
Of course, my advice is to try and resolve the cause of your baby’s colic, rather than just treating the symptoms. Parents will often look to gripe water for colic if your baby is struggling with trapped wind. If you believe that your baby has trapped wind and is swallowing air whilst feeding then there are many ways to prevent it. Check your baby’s latch if you are breastfeeding and how you make the formula and feed your baby if he is bottle fed. Also burping is incredibly important and you can check out my YouTube Video for the wonky winding technique.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your baby’s colic and unsure why your baby is crying then I can help you. I work with families to discover the root cause of your baby’s colic and get you and your family back on track to having a happier baby. For more information on working with me, please see my care services or book your free 15 minute call for an informal chat about your baby’s colic.