Should I Give Gripe Water To My Baby?

Should I Give Gripe Water To My Baby?

Newborns tend to experience gas or colic during their first few weeks due to a maturing digestive system. Is gripe water safe to give and does it work?

Newborns typically experience gas or colic during their first few weeks due to a still maturing digestive system. Gas and colic could make sleep difficult, and they may cry a lot from the pain. For a worried first time mom, this is of course very worrying. It's quite heartbreaking to see our little babies in pain.

The best treatment for colic is time, as it goes away when baby's digestive systems become more mature. But in the meantime, moms are advised to burp their babies, hold them upright after a feed, try tummy rubs and the one recommended by everyone's mum and aunty: Give them some gripe water after every meal.

So what is gripe water?

The formula for the first gripe water was created in England by a pharmacist named William Woodward in 1851. He claims it not only cures colic but calms baby's hiccups, teething pains, flatulence and other conditions. Back then the formula also consisted of 3.6% alcohol!

Today, we know better than to give babies alcohol. So formula of gripe water today contains – sodium bicarbonate, ginger, fennel, licorice, cinnamon, dill, chamomile, cardamom, peppermint, lemon balm and such. The exact ingredients depend on the country of origin and the brand that manufactures it.

Does it work and is it safe to use?

You may be surprised to learn that such a commonly used cure for colic has minimal scientific evidence of effectively relieving colic. Yet many parents do swear by its use. Believers say dill licorice, fennel and ginger relieve the gas and stomach discomfort that are believed to be a cause of colic.

And yes, gripe water is safe to use as long as it doesn't contain alcohol or sucrose which can cause tooth decay. Also make sure to check the instructions and follow them carefully. As with any supplement or medication, always check with your doctor before using!  

If you are skeptical of gripe water and wish to skip it, be glad to know that some things do work to relieve gas - burping, holding baby upright, massaging baby's tummy and bending their legs back to the tummy are all time-proven methods of helping them expel gas.

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Hanna Lee

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