Gripe Water – What Nobody is Telling You About It!

gripe water

So your mom-in-law suggested Dabur’s Shankh Pushpi Syrup , your mom swears by Woodward’s Gripe Water. Your Doctor in his infinite wisdom prescribed Colic Aid drops and warned you in a menacing tone that if you give your baby gripe water, you need not come back to him for any treatment should your daring fall sick because of them. So you ask around in your favourite parents forum – some people say gripe water is a MUST, some say it’s optional and still others say it alters the baby’s delicate system and is even harmful to your baby.

In a country where everybody is a self proclaimed expert at how your baby should be raised… who should you believe?

Nobody! Do your own research. And a thorough one at that. Half knowledge can be more dangerous than no knowledge. To save you the time and effort, I am putting down the findings of my own ‘thorough’ research, and many many links which you can go thru to make your research even more thorough. Read it, make your decision with full confidence that you have evaluated all aspects yourself and are happy with the choice you made.

So back to gripe club.

What is Gripe Water?

Gripe water is simply a solution gGripe water is for symptomatic relief of gas, colic and hyperacidity. Gripe water is one of the oldest commercially available remedies for colic, first being produced for sale in 1851. They say that the original formulations contained enough alcohol to make even an adult addicted! But it’s not so today – no alcohol.

Is Gripe Water Good for My Baby?

Well babies often suffer from gas and colic simply because they’re horizontal most of the time. (More reasons to boost tummy time!) Drinking as much fluids as a baby does all day long and lay in bed the whole time. How would that make you feel? Awful. Bloated. And Constipated. So many kinds of gripe waters have been formulated with soothing ingredients like dill, anise seed extract,fennel, licorice ,sodium bicarbonate etc. (relax, it’s not a dangerous chemical. it’s just baking soda) some even contain activated charcoal.

Many of these herbs have a carminative effect. That is, they break down the gas bubbles in the tummy into smaller bubbles, thereby allowing them to move freely around and out of the baby’s body. Some herbs have acclaimed anti bacterial and anti fungal properties which act gently on the baby’s body and help kill the pathogens residing in the tiny gut. Pathogens are also a big cause lower abdominal gas and cramping.

Then why are some people against it?

Because some people are against everything herbal! Sorry, that was a snide remark. But in reality, everything with the tag ‘herbal’ or ‘trusted for centuries’ need not be safe. Just as anything with the tag line ‘loved by doctors’  need not be safe.

Here’s why Gripe Water may be harmful to your baby:
A new born’s gut maintains a very delicate balance of flora – the gut bacteria which help digestion. Giving extra lacteal fluids disturbs this balance irreversibly.  That’s right. Irreversibly. That is the reason why WHO recommends EXCLUSIVE breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby’s life. But then, babies are not exactly born with guts in pristine conditions. Not with all the labour inducing drugs, pain killers and antibiotics mom is given so routinely at hospitals. Why squarely blame gripe waters?

As we all know, these factory produced gripe waters are susceptible to contamination. You don’t want mold to go into your baby’s delicate gut. do you? In 2007, FDA confirmed the presence of cryptosporidium after investigating the illness of a six-week-old infant in Minnesota who consumed Baby’s Bliss Gripe Water, apple flavor and advised consumers to throw away bottles of the product. I don’t want sound alarmist by throwing these isolated incidents at you and expecting you to believe me. But the point I am making is, there is a risk. Do you want to take it?

In addition to all the wonderful gripe waters contain just as many additives which may be found by reading the ingredient label. But sometimes it’s all hidden in a mysterious term ‘Syrup base IP’ which, frankly can contain just about anything.  My take on this is, it must be containing something bad, why else would they hide it?
Artificial Color
Preservatives Methyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Bronopol

How do my doctor certified drops fare in comparison to Gripe Water?

Most commonly prescribed drops by doctors contain Simethicone. Simethicone may induce allergic reaction in some babies. It can also, ironically, induce diarrhoea, regurgitation and vomitting!! ”
I also know of a baby who was prescribed some medicine which relaxes the abdominal muscles and prevents cramps. I don’t know what baby at 3 months of age would get abdominal cramps. But the side effects of this drug were so serious- drowsiness and reduction of attention span. The parents, in complete awe of the doctor, were giving  these drops to the baby 3 times a day and the did so for the first 6 months of the baby’s life because somebody told them gripe waters are not good. Come on people. Giving something that makes the baby drowsy is not responsible parenting at all. I don’t care which doctor prescribed it.

Now if the anti herbal lobby is saying just because it’s ‘herbal’, it need not be good, what do they think of these synthetic drugs?

Moreover, these drops also contain similar inactives  like color, flavour etc. which we talked about earlier in the gripe water section.

My Baby cries everyday due to colic pain and You’re Saying Gripe Water is out are are the magic Colic Drops!

I know some people can be very heartless when they say all these things are not necessary. Just distract the crying baby. Next time they suffer from heartburn, make these people watch Comedy Nights with Kapil. Let’s see how they fare.

  1. Mom’s diet
  2. Get the Baby Motion
  3. Feeding Position
  4. Make your own gripe water minus the nasties

Here are some handy ingredients which might help instead of those awful chemical soups

  • Dill
  • Caraway
  • Anise
  • Cardamom
  • Vidang

Whatever you do, just be sure don’t overdo it. Many herbal preparations have extracts in mgs. These are researched and properly formulated by qualified people. When we prepare home remedies, we really have no control over the exact amount being passed on with every dose.

So these were some pros and cons of gripe waters and some alternative strategies. What worked for you? How did you treat colic? I’d love to know.

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