Does your baby suffer from tummy discomfort after feedings? If your little one is miserable after meals, you’re not alone. Fortunately, your baby doesn’t have to continue to suffer.
If you’ve been looking for a solution to after-eating pain and distension, you may want to consider using gripe water. It helps to ease an unsettled stomach and provide relief from the inadequacies of an immature digestive system.
In this article, you’ll find out what gripe water is and what you’ll want in one of these products for your baby. We’ll also look at what you should avoid and share with you what we think are the best gripe water brands currently on the market.
What Is Gripe Water?
Gripe water is a solution comprised of water and herbs. It frequently contains dill and sometimes sodium bicarbonate. The sodium bicarbonate can help break down any excess gas in the system that could be causing pain.
This solution is given to your baby orally. If you are purchasing commercially available gripe water, you should carefully follow the provided directions for dosing and administration after consulting your pediatrician.
It’s generally not recommended to give this remedy to babies who are less than a month old (1).
Are All Gripe Waters the Same?
There are quite a few of these products to choose from. It may be tempting to grab one off the shelf without giving the ingredients a good look over. It’s important to pay close attention to what your gripe water is made of, though.
There are no set ingredients in these remedies (2). A variety of herbal supplements may make an appearance, including:
- Lemon balm.
If your child has any known allergies or intolerances, make sure to stay away from products that contain them.
Gripe waters may also include alcohol or sugar. To avoid bringing home one with inappropriate ingredients, make sure you’re only looking at products designed for infants.
Other ingredients you should plan on avoiding include:
- Vegetable carbon.
Does the product you’re interested in contain sodium bicarbonate? Make sure to touch base with your pediatrician before using it.
Your child’s doctor will best be able to help you weigh the pros and cons of using gripe water for your child.
How Does Gripe Water Work?
Documentation of using this remedy goes all the way back to the mid-1800s (4). People believed that the water helped settle gastrointestinal issues in babies and brought digestive relief.
The original British recipe contained alcohol, which, at the time, was thought to be the most beneficial ingredient for relieving colic. Trials in the 1980s proved this was not the case, and later, they removed alcohol from the list of ingredients.
Gas is likely the culprit of your child’s digestive discomfort. The purpose of this remedy is to help break up that gas and ease the accompanying pain.
The different ingredients in any particular product will shape exactly how that happens. If a formula includes fennel, the purpose is to add needed fiber to your baby’s system.
Knowing what the purpose of each ingredient is may help you determine which product is best for your baby:
- Chamomile: A known antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile is frequently used to treat diarrhea and nausea. It’s a natural way to treat motion sickness, vomiting, and colic (5).
- Ginger: Ginger is well known for its stomach-settling abilities. Often used to treat nausea during pregnancy, it’s also great for stimulating bile and saliva production. This can help your baby’s body digest what’s been eaten more easily (6).
- Fennel: Packed with dietary fiber, fennel can help your baby digest and process any eaten food that may be causing discomfort (7).
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon has long been reported to have anti-inflammatory properties (8).
- Lemon balm: Lemon balm is believed to boost the body’s systems. It can help protect the immune system and encourages good sleep, which can be restorative to the body (9).
There are many reasons your baby may be producing excess gas. If one gripe water doesn’t have an ingredient that addresses your baby’s needs, it may not be effective.
Don’t be afraid to try a different product if the first one you bring home doesn’t seem to make a difference.
What Causes Excess Gas?
Wondering what’s making your baby produce excess gas? There isn’t just one reason for this. There are, however, some common reasons for gas:
- Your diet: If you’re nursing your baby, everything you consume is being passed along to your little one. Beans, broccoli, and other foods may be difficult for your baby to digest, leaving them gassy (10).
- Your bottle: If you’re feeding your baby from a bottle, make sure you are holding the baby slightly elevated. Keep your baby’s head above their stomach and try to avoid any slurping sounds — this can mean your baby is taking in excess air, which will cause gas. The easiest way to avoid the slurp is to make sure the nipple is filled with milk or formula at all times (11).
- Too much crying: Gas is created when your baby takes in extra air. When a baby is crying, they’re swallowing a tremendous amount of air, which will make gassy discomfort worse. If you know your baby is suffering from gas-related pains, try to stave off crying jags early on (12).
- Not burping frequently enough: Pausing during meals to burp your baby can help remove excess gas — it can also help prevent your baby from spitting up (13). If your baby is feeding from a bottle, plan to burp after every ounce. If you are nursing, make sure to burp your baby well between switching sides and after feeding has finished.
Other Causes of Abdominal Discomfort
Gas and digestive discomfort may accompany other conditions as well. Digestive discomfort is also linked to the following:
- Acid reflux: Acid reflux is a common problem for young children and is a result of an immature digestive system. Many children will outgrow the problem by the time they reach a year old. While gripe water may provide some relief for your baby if acid reflux is the problem, there are also prescription medications available (14).
- Colic: Frequently used as a catch-all term to name a condition that causes stomach pain without an identifiable source, colic is something your baby generally outgrows after a few months. Treating the symptoms with gripe water may lessen the discomfort (15).
- Food sensitivities: Your baby may be sensitive to an enzyme in the formula you’re using or, if nursing, to some of the foods you’re eating. If you notice a correlation between uncomfortable behavior and consumed items, consider eliminating or limiting foods from your diet. If your formula is to blame, consult your pediatrician for recommendations for an alternative.
Could Gripe Water Help Your Baby?
If you aren’t sure if your baby is experiencing digestive discomfort, there are some indications to look for:
- Pulling knees up to the chest, or rigidly extending them to their fullest extent: This is a classic behavior that goes along with a distended or gassy stomach in a young baby.
- Urgently crying: You’ll learn the cry of your baby in pain quickly — there is a distinct difference between a cry of displeasure and one that’s caused by pain. You likely won’t be able to soothe the crying until the gas passes, no matter how long you walk the floor. Holding your baby upright and providing comfort may help.
- A hard and distended stomach: This can be a sign your baby is experiencing excess gas, which is causing the discomfort.
Never ignore blood in your baby’s stool or an inability to pass urine or stools. It can be a sign of a serious medical issue and needs to be addressed with an immediate visit to your pediatrician.
The Best Gripe Water Products of 2020
Now that you know a little bit more about gripe water, I’ll let you in on some of my favorites. If you’re considering this product, these are worth looking into.
1. Little Remedies Day and Night Gripe Water
Formulated to help alleviate your baby’s stomach discomfort, this Little Remedies product includes a day and night formula. Both formulas are dye-free and don’t contain sodium bicarbonate, parabens, or gluten.
The nighttime formula uses chamomile and lemon balm to promote healthy sleep. Little Remedies advertises the product as effective for colic, gas, unexplained fussiness, and hiccups.
Designed to be safe even for newborns, the Little Remedies formula is extremely gentle. It’s based on a traditional, 100-year old European formula. This company prides itself on using the fewest amount of ingredients — this could be a good choice if you’re working around food allergies or intolerances.
This water contains both fennel and ginger to help aid your baby’s digestive process. You’ll use little for each dose, which means your gripe water will last you a long time. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated between uses, so it can be a great choice for keeping in your diaper bag.
- Limited ingredients will help you determine what works for your little one — and what doesn’t.
- The nighttime formula can help your baby to sleep, even when they aren’t feeling well.
- Works quickly and can be used even for young babies.
- The included dropper for dosing and administration can be hard to use.
2. Wellements Organic Gripe Water
If you’re looking for gripe water with organic ingredients, Wellements can be a good option. It’s marketed as providing relief from colic, gas, hiccups, and teething.
This product is certified by the USDA as organic — it’s also free of many additives found in other products. No alcohol, dye, artificial flavors, or colorings are used in this formula. You’ll also find it’s dairy, soy, gluten, and paraben-free.
In addition to being a viable choice for babies who can tolerate limited ingredients, this product is both kosher and vegan.
I like that this Wellements product is manufactured here in the United States. It’s free of chemical preservatives. While I love that the ingredients in the gripe water are natural, it does mean you’ll need to refrigerate your bottle after opening.
As it’s free from preservatives, this product doesn’t have a long shelf life. You will need to plan on throwing any leftover product away after four weeks. Also, this product does contain sodium bicarbonate.
- Suitable for those with dietary restrictions.
- The formula doesn’t include sucralose or alcohol.
- Pediatrician recommended.
- You’ll need to discuss the use of sodium bicarbonate with your doctor as it may not be recommended for a young baby.
- Must be used within four weeks of opening.
- Since it must be refrigerated, you won’t be able to carry it in your diaper bag without a cooler.
3. Zarbee’s Naturals Baby Gripe Water
If you’re looking for an all-natural product for your baby, Zarbee’s gripe water can be a great choice. Well known for its natural and effective products for infants and children, Zarbee’s pays close attention to what ingredients are used and how they’re sourced.
This formula includes chamomile, lemon balm, ginger, and fennel. It also has no alcohol or dyes. It’s paraben and gluten-free and is recommended by pediatricians.
Lightly flavored with agave syrup for a bit of sweetness, this product doesn’t include any artificial flavors. It’s designed to be gentle and to address the pain associated with gas, colic, fussiness, and hiccups.
This formula is clinically supported and recommended for infants aged two weeks and older. The man behind Zarbee’s is both a father and a pediatrician. He strives to make products that are safe and healthy for your precious little one.
- No need to refrigerate the formula.
- The included dispenser is easy to use and allows for slow administration.
- The inclusion of chamomile and lemon balm makes this a great choice for relieving night-time discomfort.
- This product should be discarded after it’s been opened for 90 days.
- Product may stain clothing.
4. Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water
Pediatrician recommended, this product contains natural ingredients. Mommy’s Bliss gripe water is a vegan formula, made with USDA certified organic ginger. It also has natural fennel flavoring.
I love that this formula doesn’t have any artificial coloring or flavoring. It’s also paraben-free and alcohol-free. No dairy, soy, gluten, sucrose, or harsh chemicals are used in this product.
Plus, for those eco mamas, a great bonus is that the packaging is made from recycled materials and doesn’t include any BPA.
This is a popular product for occasional gas and stomach upset relief for infants. It’s even safe to use with additional gas control methods, like gas drops.
If your pediatrician believes sodium bicarbonate is appropriate for treating your baby’s discomfort, Mommy’s Bliss can be a great option. Though this is a natural formula, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so it’s great for when you’re on the go.
- Mommy’s Bliss can be kept at room temperature.
- Marketed as appropriate for babies as young as two weeks of age.
- Can also be used by adults.
- This product should be discarded by six weeks after opening.
- More expensive than others on the market.
5. Colic Calm Relief
Looking for a product that’s substantial enough to tackle the discomfort that goes along with colic? You may want to consider using Colic Calm.
Many companies claim their gripe water is pediatrician recommended and includes ingredients proven to combat stomach upset. Not many, however, can say they are FDA-listed as a medicine. It’s a difficult classification to receive, and Colic Calm has made the list.
Colic Calm doesn’t contain sugar, sodium bicarbonate, or simethicone. It’s also dairy, soy, gluten, and animal product-free. There are no artificial colors or flavors included in the formula.
Unlike other gripe waters, this one doesn’t contain herbal extracts or oils. It does use natural ingredients, including chamomile, ginger, fennel, and lemon balm. If other products haven’t worked for your baby, it may be worth trying this one.
For best results, this water should be used when symptoms present themselves. There’s no reason to dose regularly in a preventative fashion.
- This product is made in the U.S. and comes from an FDA-inspected and approved facility.
- Colic Calm has been approved and recommended by many national organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, PBS, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
- Colic Calm is non-habit forming and won’t interfere with your baby’s ability to learn how to process and digest foods.
- This product includes peppermint, which may cause stomach upset in some children. It also contains xylitol, a sweetener that’s derived from plant matter.
6. Woodward’s Gripe Water
Treating your baby for digestive discomfort doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re looking to provide your baby with some comfort — and do it on a budget — you may want to consider trying Woodward’s gripe water.
This product is sugar-free and contains dill seed oil and sodium bicarbonate to address the symptoms that go along with excess gas. It covers a variety of ailments, including colic and teething discomfort.
Woodward’s has been sold in the United Kingdom for many generations and also has a formula made for adults. For best results, make sure you order the product specifically made for infants.
Once opened, this product doesn’t have a long shelf life. You’ll need to use or discard it after two weeks.
- Affordable and effective.
- Great for encouraging burps and relieving built up air in your baby’s digestive system.
- Contains more chemicals than other products on the market.
7. Herbs for Kids Quiet Tummy Gripe Water
Have you been searching for a product to address your child’s tummy aches that uses natural herbs and recipes? Quiet Tummy can be a good option. It’s even suitable for use with young babies.
Herbs for Kids is dedicated to making quality products for children. Their formulas comply with the strict standards of Current Goods manufacturing practices. I love that they’re able to balance their mission of producing quality herbal options for children without compromising on their manufacturing principles.
An herbal supplement, Quiet Tummy includes extracts of fennel, ginger, chamomile, and peppermint. It’s alcohol-free, although it does contain sugar. Naturally sweetened with agave syrup, many kids don’t mind the taste.
- Can be taken by adults for stomach discomfort as well.
- Safe to keep at room temperature.
- The dosing size is greater than with other gripe waters.
Soothe Those Tummy Troubles
Feeding time doesn’t need to be a nightmare. If your baby is experiencing meal times punctuated with pain and discomfort, you may find relief when using gripe water.
While all of these products come recommended, we keep Little Remedies Day and Night Gripe Water on our shelves. We trust these products and love the separate night and day formulas. Keep in mind it is always best to check with the child’s pediatrician before starting anything that is over the counter on your child.
Do you have experience with difficult meal times? What’s worked for you? Has gripe water been on your go-to list?
We’d love to hear your tips and experiences down in the comments section.