Friends and family of new parents often joke that babies have just a few main activities - feeding, peeing-pooping, crying and sleeping. If your baby is cranky and cries excessively, he could be suffering from colic which is experienced by infants in their early months. Colic is scary and often frustrates parents. Since generations, parents have been using gripe water for babies to solve the problem of colic. Let us understand what is colic and how safe is Woodward’s gripe water for your baby’s colicky issues.
What is colic?
If your baby is healthy but tends to cry at predictable times, mostly in the late afternoons or evening, he could have colic. Colic is abdominal discomfort experienced by young infants, starting when they are a few weeks old and lasting up to the age of about 6 months after which it typically subsides. It is said to be caused by the build-up of gas in the infant’s stomach.
Parents of colicky babies are often advised by well-meaning people and the internet to give their baby Woodward’s Gripe Water. However, it is best to do your research or speak to your doctor before giving a baby under 6 months of age anything other than breast milk.
Also Read: Yes, Gripe water is safe for babies (details inside)
What is Woodward’s gripe water?
William Woodward's invented the formulation of Woodward’s Gripe water in the 1800’s in England. He found that it helped soothe a crying baby from a variety of symptoms including gassiness and colic. The concoction was then patented in his name and has become a well-known name in every household since.
Earlier formulations of Woodward's gripe water contained large doses of alcohol which was the primary reason it soothed crying babies. Alcohol is no longer added to Woodward's Gripe Water. The other main ingredients are:
- Sugar: Gripe water has large quantities of sugar and this is said to be the main reason why crying, fussy babies are soothed by its taste.
- Dill Oil: Dill seeds belong to the same family as fennel seeds (saunf). Dill oil has been found to ease pain caused by excessive gas in the intestines.
- Sarjikakshara: This is nothing but Sodium bicarbonate. This is mildly effective in curing acidity but large doses of Sodium Bicarbonate can cause alkalosis (excessive alkalinity in the body).
Apart from relieving colic, gripe water is used by parents to relieve the symptoms of gas, reflux (spitting up due to acid), upset stomach, hiccups which interfere with feeding and even constipation.
Also Read: Colic: symptoms, reasons and home remedies to treat the colic in babies
Is gripe water safe for my Baby?
- The effectiveness of gripe water is mostly anecdotal, i.e. it has been claimed by a large percentage of mothers with babies under the age of 6 months to have helped with relieving symptoms of gassiness in their babies. However, this claim is not backed by any scientific medical evidence.
- It is not advisable to give a baby younger than 6 months of age anything other than breast milk.
- If the baby is above 6 months of age, you could give the baby Woodward's gripe water in the recommended doses. The package should have clearly listed dosage and instructions with the amount of Gripe water to be given at what age.
Also read: Colic: Causes, Symptoms, Remedies
Alternate methods to soothe a colicky, fussy baby.
- Massage: Try to lay your baby down gently on his/her stomach on your lap and gently rub their backs to soothe them.
- Feeding position: Colic occurs when the baby happens to swallow air while feeding. Try to keep your baby as upright as possible while feeding. Also, small and frequent feeds to the baby are recommended as they avoid putting pressure on their developing digestive system.
- Burping Technique: Burp the baby more after feedings, either by laying him on your shoulder or lap.
- Distracting: Try to distract the baby by swinging them, rocking them, singing to them or maybe taking them for a ride in the car.
- Home Made Remedy: If your baby is older than 6 months, you could give him a homemade soothing herbal concoction to relieve gassiness. You could boil Fennel seeds, Dill seeds, Ginger, Chamomile and peppermint in water; drain and cool before giving this mixture to your baby.
Read More: Is Homeopathy safe for Babies?
To sum it up, if your baby has colic, try to soothe him before reaching out for that bottle of Woodward’s Gripe water. Colic typically subsides as the baby approaches the six-month mark. If the symptoms last beyond six months, do consult with your baby’s doctor. However, if you do choose to give him Gripe Water, make sure you read the instructions and administer it only in the recommended doses.
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