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What are the Pros and Cons of Gripe Water for Colic?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Gripe water is a mostly herbal concoction used to soothe colicky infants. Using gripe water for colic has been a subject of much debate, and there are pros and cons to using such a remedy. Some of the pros of gripe water include its availability, ease of use, and all-natural ingredients. Those against the use of gripe water for colic argue that it should not be used for colicky babies younger than one month old, and it may contain ingredients that could be harmful to infants.

As most supermarkets and pharmacies have some sort of gripe water stocked on the shelves, finding it is not necessarily difficult. Giving a baby gripe water for colic is just as simple, if not more so. Most gripe water comes with a dropper, and usually five to ten drops of this liquid is the typical dose. These drops can be given to the infant directly or mixed in with formula, water, or other liquid.

Most gripe water brands contain natural ingredients and herbs, such as peppermint, chamomile, fennel, and ginger. Because of this, using gripe water for colic is considered relatively safe. There are almost no side effects, and those that have been reported were usually a result of incorrect dosage or contamination.

While gripe water for colic may seem like the perfect solution, it does have its disadvantages. For instance, it is not recommended for infants that are one month old or younger, because their delicate bodies may not be able to handle the variety of ingredients. As the lion's share of babies who suffer from colic fall in this age range, some would consider gripe water essentially useless.

Another possible disadvantage of gripe water for colic is the addition of certain ingredients in a few brands of gripe water. Some of these ingredients could prove to be harmful to an infant, especially in large quantities. When shopping for gripe water, parents are urged to stay away from brands that include alcohol and sodium bicarbonate.

Alcohol is, as many people realize, an obvious no-no for infants. Besides the potentially harmful physical effects that it can have on an infant or child, some studies show that it can cause withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are often worse than the original colic and can't be treated.

In excessive amounts, sodium bicarbonate has been shown to raise the pH of a baby's blood, which can cause medical complications. Sodium bicarbonate can also cause muscle tremors, and interfere with iron absorption. Very few cases of this have been reported, however, and it typically only happens after numerous high doses.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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