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As all parents of newborns know, a gassy baby is a fussy and uncomfortable baby. And when your baby starts fussing, it can get really challenging to identify what is causing it. The first things parents tend to rule out are hunger, diaper change, and a need to be picked up before zeroing in on gas. I’ve been there, so I know.
Then I was introduced to colic as another probable reason for my baby’s helplessly crying. And in trying to find a solution, I came across gripe water and gas drops to reduce the excess bubbles in my child’s stomach and alleviate their distress.
When you’re dealing with colic, you need to remember that every child is unique. What works for one may not work for another. So, one of the smartest steps is to equip yourself with learning about these two potential solutions.
Let me first start by differentiating these two products:
Main Differences between Gripe Water vs Gas Drops
The main differences between Gripe Water vs Gas Drops are:
- Gripe water is a herbal supplement, whereas gas drops are considered a medical treatment.
- The main components of gripe water are sodium bicarbonate and herbs, whereas the primary active ingredient of gas drops is simethicone.
- Gripe water helps soothe stomach pains by offsetting the stomach acid, whereas gas drops decrease the surface tension of tiny bubbles, which forces these small bubbles to join a bigger bubble and makes it easier for babies to pass.
Gripe Water – In-Depth
Gripe water consists of sodium bicarbonate and different herbs like chamomile, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon balm, and peppermint. It is an over-the-counter remedy that is easily accessible and can be bought in grocery stores, pharmacies, and health food stores.
It is primarily marketed to parents as a safe and effective treatment to help colic, gas, and other common ailments such as hiccups and teething pain among babies. Experts have also stated that the gripe water’s sweet taste serves as a soothing agent for fussy babies.
Gripe water is given to babies after feedings as this is usually when they become gassy because of eating too fast or from gulping too much air while feeding.
In the 1850s, English nannies and mothers were the first to use gripe water. Surprisingly enough, that version included alcohol as it seemed to soothe and relax the babies. We know more today, though, and alcohol is, of course, no longer used.
The gripe water available today is a mix of water, sodium bicarbonate, and herbal ingredients such as chamomile, ginger, licorice, dill, cinnamon, lemon balm, and fennel that help relieve stomach discomfort and gas pains.
Gripe water is soothing for a baby’s tummy, thus leading to lesser bouts of stomach upsets and inconsolable crying episodes. Here’s a breakdown of some of the main ingredients used in gripe water:
A traditional go-to natural herb for any stomach-related concerns, ginger is a natural and effective anti-inflammatory that can be taken in many forms. There are ginger chews, ginger in beverage form, and ginger powder. Ginger root, in particular, contains two specific chemicals, gingerols and shogaols, that relieve stomach-related problems by helping relax the body’s intestinal tract.
Dill is known as a carminative because it can get rid of bloating and gas pains and can generally settle the tummy. In the past, dill seeds would be crushed to remove dill extract, or they were boiled to make tea to help soothe a baby’s tummies. Even without any sweeteners, babies seem to like the unsweetened taste of dill tea.
Another powerful ingredient used for colic is fennel. It is an effective natural remedy that relaxes the gastrointestinal tract and alleviates gas.
I always tell myself to check the labels and instructions before giving anything to my child, especially since you can feed your baby gripe water directly without diluting the solution.
I found it more convenient to use a syringe or dropper or use an empty bottle.
Make sure you check the serving size, too, in terms of the baby’s age. Here’s the recommended dosage:
- 2 weeks old to 6 weeks old: 1 ml and can be given up to 15 times a day
- 6 weeks old to 10 weeks old: 2 ml and can be given up to 15 times a day
- 10 weeks old to 6 months old: 5ml and can be given up to 6 times a day
Gripe water is a herbal remedy, not a medication, so it’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. While there is anecdotal evidence that it is working, there is no scientific proof of gripe water working for colic.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization strongly advises that infants not be given any other food (or drink) other than breastmilk or approved infant milk formulas.
Gripe water is considered to be generally safe as it is alcohol-free, and most brands no longer incorporate baking soda in the solution. However, not all babies are the same, as certain ingredients may cause an allergic reaction.
As a parent, it is crucial to always check the label and keep an eye out for any of the following possible side effects of gripe water:
- Change in breathing
- Swollen lips or tongue
- Watery eyes
Packaging and Prices
Gripe water is usually packaged in 4-ounce bottles, and prices vary depending on the brand. Most of these products can be purchased for less than $10.
Gripe Water Reviews
Gripe water is quite popular among parents for soothing their baby’s colic or gas. I personally found gripe water quite helpful. It is primarily made of all-natural ingredients, each of which is known for its soothing properties, is also an added benefit.
Based on my experience, the effectiveness of gripe water is variable. There are times when my child gets instant relief, but then there are days when the colic may be too bad, and it takes several administrations before it works. Besides, the naturally sweet taste of gripe water makes it a no-fuss, hassle-free experience to feed it to my child.
Gripe Water Features
- Ideal for infants with colic, gas, or hiccups.
- The formula includes ginger, dill, and fennel, which are proven to help indigestion.
- Recommended for all ages,
- It can be safely used even if the baby is not experiencing colic or gas problems.
Gripe Water Pros and Cons
- Over-the-counter product
- Minimal to zero side effects
- 100% natural ingredients
- It can be administered directly
- Sweet and pleasant taste
- Not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration
- Can introduce bacteria into the baby’s digestive system
- The sucrose content can lead to early tooth decay
Gas Drops – In-Depth
Conveniently available in drugstores and online marketplaces like Amazon, gas drops also come in liquid form and are used extensively to calm colicky babies or infants with upset stomachs. However, this solution is not just limited to babies. Adults can use gas drops too.
Gas drops essentially work by forcing the smaller gas bubbles to join the bigger bubbles in the stomach. Larger bubbles, especially in infants, are easier to pass through burping compared to the smaller ones. Gas drops gently but effectively break down these bubbles so the baby can expel the gas naturally, either by tooting or burping.
The main ingredient in gas drops is simethicone. It’s a mixture of silicon dioxide and polydimethylsiloxane and is considered an anti-foaming agent.
Simethicone is primarily used to help with painful and uncomfortable symptoms of having too much gas in the stomach and the intestines. Simethicone can be purchased without a prescription and is available in capsule (liquid-filled), chewable tablet, tablet, suspension, and solution form.
Gas drops can be administered orally or by mixing them into your baby’s feeding bottle. It usually has a chemical aftertaste that your child may not like. Since this formula only affects the gas in the baby’s tummy, it is best to administer it after every meal and at bedtime. Make sure you also read the labels and follow the instructions before use.
I make it a habit to shake the gas drop bottle before using it. Then, with a dropper, I measure the serving size recommended for my child’s age and weight. When mixed with my baby’s formula, juice, or water, I use an ounce of gas drops. And remember, gas drops are not supposed to be consumed more than 12 times a day.
Gas drops are a medical treatment that the FDA regulates. This makes it more reliable and safe to give to your baby. Moreover, the active ingredient in gas drops, simethicone, is not in any way absorbed by the child’s internal system. It simply ends up in the diaper and is flushed out of the baby’s body.
Note that there are specific gas drops with sweeteners and artificial flavors – these are intended to mask the chemical and unpleasant aftertaste of gas drops.
Some manufacturers may add artificial flavors or sweeteners to mask the unpleasant aftertaste of gas drops. They may also include fillers and emulsifiers, including thickening agents, all of which may not be good for your baby’s health in the long term.
Gas drops have very minimal side effects unless the child is allergic to certain ingredients or has thyroid issues. Although serious allergic reactions to gas drops are rare, here are the side effects you can watch out for:
- Extreme fuzziness
- Inconsolable crying
- Itching and swelling in the face, throat, or tongue
- Difficulty breathing
Apart from paying close attention to the products’ labels and ingredients, it is also a good idea to be in contact with the baby’s pediatrician if you need help.
Packaging and Prices
Like gripe water, gas drops are also packaged in small bottles and come with a dropper for ease of use. Gas drops are fairly affordable and are available from most brands for $10 or less.
Gas Drops Reviews
Compared to gripe water, parents are more confident using gas drops as most pediatricians prescribe it to help with colic and gas. They’re FDA-approved medications, which gives me a sense of security knowing that what I’m giving my child is medically approved.
I’ve noticed my baby responding to gas drops well, and I can see the relief within a few minutes. He is less fussy and not as uncomfortable. There are times when I can hear gas bubble-like sounds in his little tummy breaking up and, after a few minutes, coming up either as a burp or a fart.
Gas Drops Features
- Pediatrician recommended
- Recommended for all ages
- Promotes natural burping and flatulence
- Can be administered directly or mixed with formula or expressed breast milk
- Safe for everyday use
Gas Drops Pros and Cons
- Easily accessible
- Minimal to zero side effects
- Certain gas drops are FDA approved
- Unpleasant, chemical aftertaste
- May contain emulsifiers and thickening agents
Gripe Water vs Gas Drops: Alternatives?
There is no one solution for gas or colic in babies. All babies are unique, and different babies respond differently to various solutions. Thankfully, there are a number of different tried and tested methods to soothe colicky babies. While not all of these will work all the time, any remedy with fewer associated risks is always welcome.
Holding the child close
My colicky baby usually responds well when I hold him close. I use a chest-to-chest carrier, and being close to me during the day helps reduce colic crying during the night. I have also tried swaddling my baby in a blanket and holding him close. Sometimes I play some calming background music and even white noise, and I’ve found it works well to reduce my child’s fussiness.
Laying the baby on his tummy
Putting my child on his tummy across my stomach proved to be a soothing position for him. Rubbing his back also helped him pass gas. I often do this with my baby because tummy time is also known to help strengthen babies’ shoulder and neck muscles.
So even if it has minimal effect against colic, it still helps with my child’s overall well-being.
Doing repetitive movements
I’ve noticed my baby tends to become comfortably sleepy on a drive. Repetitive motions like a car drive are known to soothe colic. So I tried mimicking other kinds of motion like using a baby swing and walking around with my child in his stroller. Albeit temporary, it’s an effective remedy.
Holding the baby upright after feeding
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can also worsen colic. Babies suffering from GERD can experience heartburn because the milk formula or breastmilk goes up to their esophagus. To prevent this, the child needs to be held upright after every feeding.
Instantly putting the baby on their back pushes the milk forward and out, resulting in an uncomfortable and cranky baby.
This was one of the recommendations I got from my baby’s pediatrician when my baby’s colic was barely manageable. A milk protein intolerance or an allergy to baby formula can also lead to colicky symptoms.
To rule this out, my pediatrician advised trying a different elemental formulation or milk with another protein source to check whether my baby can digest this new milk better. A soy-based milk formula is also a good option. I was advised to wait for two days before identifying if it is milk intolerance or if something else needs to be considered.
My Verdict: Gripe Water vs Gas Drops — Which One Should You Get?
However, between gripe water and gas drops, the only one who can decide what works is your baby. I tried both, and both worked at different times for my baby. I found both remedies working as intended. My baby was less fussy and in less pain. So gripe water and gas drops both get my vote when it comes to effectiveness.
However, I find myself using gas drops more than gripe water. Although gripe water ingredients are mostly organic, there is a larger risk of unexpected side effects. With gas water, you can get an FDA-approved medical treatment that can be overseen by your pediatrician.
Overall, the decision is up to you. Sometimes, you have to go through a trial and error run with your child to find the results. But don’t let that dishearten you. Both gripe water and gas drops have been used by parents for years, with effective results. Whichever one you choose, I hope this article helps you make a more informed decision about the best remedy for colic.