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Is Gripe Water Safe for Babies

bygrandma-09-woodwards-gripe-water

Is Your Baby Facing GAS Trouble?

It’s 2 AM and you are up trying to soothe your screaming infant, who is extremely agitated with gas troubles. If this is a regular occurrence every night, chances are you have turned to a familiar blue and white package of Woodward’s Gripe Water!

Hello Moms!

Mothers of this generation alongside with 5 more before them have tried to use gripe water to treat gas related pain and discomfort in infants.

Having been around for nearly 150 years, it is not difficult to see why generations of mothers turn their hopes towards Woodward’s Gripe Water. According to Wikipedia, Gripe water was invented in 1851 by William Woodward, an English pharmacist. In the 1840s, babies in England developed something known as fen fever and during that time there was also an outbreak of Malaria. Woodward noted that the gripe water used to treat fen fever was effective in providing relief for gastrointestinal troubles in infants. In 1876, Woodward registered gripe water as a trademark and thereafter, found success marketing it to countries around the world. In addition to being a pharmacist, he certainly was a clever businessman making Woodward’s Gripe Water a household name.

What is Gripe Water?

The original formula for gripe water contained alcohol and sugar in addition to sodium bicarbonate and dill oil. Present-day products do not contain alcohol and may contain sugar,  and a combination of herbs like fennel, ginger, chamomile or lemon balm in addition to or replacement for dill oil.

It has been used to provide relief from discomfort caused by gas, acidity, and indigestion in babies and children. It has also been used to help with teething related pain in babies. The dosages vary with advancing age of the baby.

How Do You Know If You Have a Gassy Baby?

Let’s understand one thing clearly. All babies produce gas. Why wouldn’t they?! They eat every couple of hours and keep their digestive systems busy enough to produce a vast amount of gas on a daily basis. In addition, they also swallow air while feeding or crying (i.e. every time their mouth is open for a long period of time)

The one difference could be that some babies are better at passing gas than others. Therefore, a baby struggling to pass gas and unable to do so will be in a state of discomfort. As they are unable to tell us how they feel, they demonstrate their pain with screams or howls, followed by prolonged crying.

There is an easy way to check if it is actually gas that is troubling your baby. Use some gas-relieving techniques and if your baby has a noticeable change in temperament since you can confirm the culprit.

Is Gripe Water Safe for Babies?

It has long been debated whether it was the alcohol or the sugar which lulled babies to sleep or is gripe water really effective at alleviating gas troubles? Of course, present-day gripe water does not contain alcohol but some brands of gripe water still contain sugar, which makes it agreeable to infants but gives rise to an important question. Do you want your baby to develop a habit of being soothed with sugar?

The best way to decide whether to use gripe water or not is to check the label of your chosen brand with a qualified medical professional. If they do recommend, then you may proceed. However, It is recommended to limit its use as much as possible in the first 6 months as babies they have very delicate digestive systems. It should never be used as a dietary supplement. It is absolutely essential to remember that exclusive breast milk or formula milk is the only nourishment required for babies from birth until 6 months.

Gas Relieving Techniques?

Make generous use of gas-relieving techniques such as:

1. Check baby feeding bottle!

If you are using a regular feeding bottle for your baby, before you commence feeding, tilt the feeding bottle so that milk flows fully into the nipple, leaving no room for air bubbles. There are also angle-neck feeding bottles available in the market which come with a deliberate bend in the neck of the bottle to serve the same purpose.

2. Babysit up position!

If you are bottle feeding, help the baby sit on your lap with his/her head resting on the nook of your arm or your chest. This helps in correctly directing the flow of milk without causing the baby to swallow air bubbles.

3. Massage it out!

Help the baby pass gas by gently massaging the tummy or pumping the baby’s legs back and forth, as if riding a bicycle. This helps in applying pressure on the tummy. A warm bath also can help babies deal with excessive gas.

4. Use music/ soothing sounds!

You can try the use of music/ soothing sounds to distract the baby as you help him/her relieve gas. This helps the baby relax and eases the passage of gas.

5. Check your diet!

During breastfeeding, the mother’s diet plays a vital role. She has to consume not only to transfer nutrients to her baby in the form of breastmilk but also to meet her own nutritional needs. Avoid gas-producing food such as corn, egg, fish, peanuts and dairy products.

Burping after every meal: A preventive technique to combat gas pain is to burp the baby during and after every meal. If at your first attempt the baby doesn’t burp, don’t worry. Try again in a short while.

Burping Techniques? Let’s check some of them!

  • Holding over your chest/ shoulder!

    Hold the baby against your chest so that their head rests on your shoulder. Support the baby with one hand and gently rub in a circular motion or pat the back with the other hand.

  • Seated on your lap!

Sit your baby on your lap. Support the baby’s chest with your palm and fingers supporting the baby’s jaw and chin. Help the baby lean forward a bit. With the other hand, gently rub in a circular motion or pat the back.

  • Face down, across your lap!

Lay baby face down on your lap, so that he/she remains perpendicular to you. Support baby’s chin and jaw with one hand and ensures they are at the same level as the rest of the body. With the other hand, gently rub or pat the back.

Of course, let’s not forget an essential part of the burping process. It is a spit cloth, which has to be worn over the lap/ shoulder to protect your clothes from baby spit-up!

Knowledge Is Power!

In conclusion, it is important to read the labels on the packages of gripe water you intend to purchase. It is strongly recommended that you run it past your baby’s pediatrician to understand if any of the ingredients can potentially worsen the gas pains for your little one. It is generally not recommended for babies younger than 1 month. If you suspect an allergic reaction, seek medical help immediately.

In the meanwhile, do practice some of the non-medical techniques listed above to help your baby during a gas trouble episode. You can breathe easy knowing that gas issues are very common among babies. Once you figure out what technique works for your baby, you are in a better place to deal with the gas crisis!

As the baby grows, there is a likelihood of fewer episodes of gas pain, thanks to more evolved feeding habits. At 6 months, it’s time to introduce your baby to another fascinating journey, which will last a long, long time. Know more about how to introduce solids to your little one with a ready-to-use By Grandma 6 month baby food chart.

Each milestone with your baby is a special one. Share your experiences with us and double the joy!

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