The Best Gripe Water For Babies

Dr. Denys Tsveiuk, MD
Reviewed by Dr. Denys Tsveiuk, MDWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on October 4th, 2021

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Is your baby experiencing post-meal misery or crying in pain for hours on end for no apparent reason? If so, he might be experiencing gas, colic, or acid reflux.

While there’s no one-and-done cure that will solve all your baby’s digestive issues, there are products on the market designed to help bring your baby comfort.

One popular option is gripe water. For centuries, parents and caregivers have utilized this herbal mixture to ease discomfort and soothe their babies.

What is gripe water?

Gripe water is more than just fancy flavored water. It is a medicinal elixir that many parents swear relieves common gastrointestinal issues and colic symptoms.

Alas, picking the best gripe water isn’t as simple as grabbing the first thing you see on the shelf. Before we move on to our favorite brands of gripe water, let’s explore just what it is, its uses, and discuss some of its ingredients in depth.

The history of gripe water

Once upon a time in the mid-1800s, seasoned moms and nannies flocked to the store to purchase a new therapeutic beverage said to help relieve gas pains and colic.

This liquid, which would come to be known as gripe water, was created by William Woodward. A Stamford-educated pharmacist, Woodward took his inspiration from a group of Nottingham doctors who had concocted a similar medicine to combat an illness known as fen fever.

He would go on to patent his version of the brew and sell it all over the world. The seeming miracle potion contained, among other things, baking soda, herbs, and alcohol.

Scientific advancements would, of course, go on to show the harmful effect that alcohol can have on babies, it being stricken from the ingredients list in the early 1900s.

However, modern gripe water recipes still draw heavy inspiration from Woodward’s work. While not medically proven, many parents feel that their babies derive a substantial benefit from gripe water.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that gripe water helps to settle a baby’s stomach, relieve bloating and gas, and may even help calm the symptoms of colic.

Related: 7 Pro Baby Teething Tips

How gripe water works

While science cannot quite put its finger on why gripe water serves to relieve digestive discomfort, many people say it’s as simple as the herbs utilized in the formula.

These herbs, they argue, have been used for eons to treat various ailments in both children and adults, while providing a natural option for alleviating gastrointestinal issues that commonly plague babies.

Gripe water ingredients

All gripe water brands use a mixture of water, herbs, and, occasionally, sodium bicarbonate, to create their formulas.

Common herbs
There are many different mixtures on the market, but regularly included herbs are:

  • Dill oil: Aids the body in passing gas and settles the stomach, while having a stimulating effect on appetite.
  • Aloe: May reduce acid reflux, bloating, and gas.
  • Fennel oil: Thought to relieve symptoms of colic, bloating, intestinal gas, and heartburn.
  • Ginger: Treats indigestion, gas, diarrhea, and colic.
  • Lemon balm: Settles the stomach and relieves pain, while reducing symptoms of colic and gas.
  • Chamomile: Relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, thus alleviating symptoms of gas and bloating. Can also help with colic and promote healthy sleep patterns.1Biagioli, E., Tarasco, V., Lingua, C., Moja, L., & Savino, F. (2016).Pain‐relieving agents for infantile colic. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (9).ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Some gripe waters include sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda, in their formula. This ingredient can neutralize stomach acid and lessen symptoms of colic.

Great, right? Well yes, but experts advise caution when using any product containing this component.2Adhisivam, B. (2012). Is gripe water baby-friendly?. Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, 3(2),207.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Too much sodium bicarbonate can lower the acidity of body fluids and lead to a condition called metabolic alkalosis.3Adhisivam, B. (2012). Is gripe water baby-friendly?. Journal of pharmacology & pharmacotherapeutics, 3(2),207.
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Symptoms of this illness include:

  • Prolonged muscle spasms
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Hand tremors
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizure

Left untreated, metabolic alkalosis can lead to coma and respiratory distress. Seek emergency medical attention if you suspect your baby has had too much sodium bicarbonate.

Ingredients to avoid

There are some additives that you will want to avoid altogether when choosing a gripe water brand. These include

  • Dairy products: Can cause stomach upset.
  • Gluten: Can agitate your baby’s digestive system.
  • Sucrose (table sugar): Causes tooth decay and has no value other than sweetening the gripe water.
  • Peppermint: May increase acid reflux.
  • Xylitol: May cause diarrhea or an unsettled stomach.
  • Vegetable carbon: Can lead to constipation.
  • Alcohol: Harmful for all babies; don’t be an absolute traditionalist when it comes to your gripe water recipes.

Colic and gripe water

Symptoms of colic often flare in the evening and include:

  • Screaming or crying for long periods despite being dry, fed, and cuddled by a caregiver.
  • Fussiness and the inability to get comfortable.
  • Pale skin around the mouth and/or a red, flushed face.
  • Abdominal hardness.
  • Clenched fists.
  • Stiff limbs.

Parents often find that colic appears when their baby is around six weeks old and begins to taper off when their child reaches about four months of age.

Unfortunately, the cause of colic remains elusive to doctors, but most theories revolve around a baby’s still-developing digestive tract, food sensitivities or allergies, headaches, gas build-up, and lack of healthy bacteria in the stomach and intestines.

Colic is not curable, but some actions can alleviate your baby’s distress. A gentle massage, a soak in a warm bath, swaddling, and, yes, gripe water, can all make your baby feel more comfortable.

A colicky baby may often be confused with a baby that has high needs. Yet, each infant is different and may require a different approach from parents.

  • High needs babies – The infants may get overstimulated by noise or other people, and they are usually more demanding and active.
  • Colicky babies – With these infants, digestive discomfort is the key. Additionally, colics usually calm down after 3 to 4 months of age, while high needs babies may loudly require your attention for the entire first year or more.

Our top picks of the best baby gripe water to buy in 2021

Best natural

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: No
Contains sodium bicarbonate: Yes
Flavor: Unflavored

With a market history going back 20 years, Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water (check price on Amazon) has a solid reputation for pleasing parents and pacifying babies.

Its ingredients include 5 mg of organic ginger root extract and 5 mg of organic fennel seed extract per serving. You can start your baby on this product when they are two weeks old and administer it before or after meals up to six times a day.

Includes a dropper for administering the gripe water directly into your baby’s mouth, or else you can mix it in with breast milk or formula.

It’s also safe to use in conjunction with gas drops. Many parents report that this gripe water seems to calm their little ones in mere minutes.

What they’ll love

  • Alleviates gas, nausea, and hiccups.
  • No refrigeration requirement means it can go wherever your baby goes.

Best for immune support

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: Yes
Contains sodium bicarbonate: Yes
Flavor: Lemon

Like its original formula, Wellements Organic Probiotic Gripe Water (check price on Amazon) is kosher, vegan, free from preservatives, and certified USDA Organic.

It contains 2.5 mg of ginger root extract and 2 mg of fennel extract, along with a healthy dose of LactoSpore, in every serving. LactoSpore, aka Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856, is a probiotic that will help improve digestive health and may even boost your little one’s immune system.

The lack of preservatives means this gripe water won’t stay fresh forever and Wellements recommends that you dispose of any leftover product 4 weeks after opening the bottle.

Babies seem to love the sweet taste of this gripe water formula’s natural ingredients and can drink up to six doses a day from the included dropper, or mixed with your breast milk or formula of choice.

What they’ll love

  • Sweet flavor.
  • Fast-acting relief from gas and upset stomach.

Best for day & night

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: No.
Contains sodium bicarbonate: No.
Flavor: Unflavored.

For parents looking to save money without skimping on quality, Little Remedies Day & Night Set (check price on Amazon) is a great option. The daytime formula includes 4 mg of fennel seed extract and 5 mg of ginger root extract per serving.

The nighttime elixir incorporates 77 mg of lemon balm and 142 mg of chamomile per serving, along with fennel seed extract, to provide maximum relief with a side of sleepiness.

Both mixtures will calm and relieve pain associated with an upset stomach, gas, and hiccups. It can be given to newborns, contains no artificial flavors, and is gluten-free.

What they’ll love

  • The night-time formula helps with sleep.
  • Fast-acting.
At a glance
  • Included syringe only holds 3 ml while older babies need 5+ml per dose.

Best for gas & reflux

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: No.
Contains sodium bicarbonate: No.
Flavor: Unflavored.

The Colic Calm Homeopathic Gripe Water (check price on Amazon) contains eight active ingredients, including chamomile, ginger, blackthorn, and lemon balm, and is suitable for both day and night relief.

The homeopathic recipe is focused on long-term digestive health, while still providing almost instant relief for hiccups, gas, bloating, reflux issues, and even teething pains.

Is manufactured in an American FDA-inspected facility, which also adheres to the standards of Good Manufacturing Practices for medicines.

Colic Calm’s gripe water will hold its quality for two months after you open the bottle, is safe for newborns, and can be given up to four times a day. If you notice any darkening of your baby’s stool, don’t panic; it’s a harmless effect of the colors of the ingredients of the gripe water.

What they’ll love

  • The natural taste of herbs isn’t overwhelming.
  • Chamomile soothes and aids in sleep.
  • Effective pain reliever.
At a glance
  • Contains peppermint and xylitol.

Best colic reliever

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: No.
Contains sodium bicarbonate: n/a.
Flavor: n/a.

The Frida Baby’s Windi Gas and Colic Reliever (check price on Amazon) is a single-use, catheter-like device that was developed by a gastroenterologist to stimulate your baby’s anal sphincter that keeps air trapped painfully in his belly.

Basically, you insert the tip of the Windi into your baby’s bottom (don’t worry; a stopper will prevent you from pushing it in too far), and wait for the whistle signifying that gas has passed before removing the Windi. Warning: a bowel movement may immediately follow.

We admit it’s not the most charming moment you’ll ever share with your child, though plenty of parents swear by this product.

What they’ll love:

The relief that’s provided after the process is over!

Best organic

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: Yes.
Contains sodium bicarbonate: Yes.
Flavor: Pomegranate.

Formulated with kosher, vegan ingredients that are USDA certified, the Wellements Organic Gripe Water (check price on Target) can be administered up to six times a day.

It provides quick relief for gas, upset stomach, and also lessens the symptoms of colic. You can start your fussy infant on this gripe water as a newborn. Wellements’ formula is free from preservatives, so once opened, you’ll need to store the bottle in the fridge.

This lack of preservatives means fewer ingredients to worry about, but also results in a shorter shelf-life; the company recommends discarding the bottle four weeks after opening.

Containing 2.5 mg of ginger root extract and 2 mg of fennel seed extract per serving, parents have reported that their babies seem much more comfortable after ingesting this gripe water.

What they’ll love

  • Can be added to their bottle for easy ingestion.
  • The flavor is not overpowering.
  • Quick-relief.
At a glance
  • Refrigeration requirement makes it more difficult to use while traveling, or out and about.

Best alternative

Our opinion

Refrigeration required: No.
Contains sodium bicarbonate: No.
Flavor: Unflavored.

Although named after gripe water’s creator, you won’t find any alcohol in this recipe. The Woodward’s Gripe Water’s (check price on Walmart) active ingredients are dill seed oil and sodium bicarbonate, and the formula is certified halal and contains no artificial dyes.

It has a mildly sweet flavor that babies will enjoy and can be given to infants of all ages, including newborns, every day. In reviews, parents note that their babies experience fast relief from an assortment of digestive-related pains, while some moms even admit to soothing their own upset stomach with this gripe water.

Ordering from Amazon will net you four bottles for under $15, so this product is both affordable and effective.

What they’ll love

  • Sweet taste.
  • Quick relief from gas and colic.
  • Neutralizes stomach acid.
At a glance
  • Contains sugar

And our winner is…

Having an uncomfortable baby is stressful for you and your child, so it’s no wonder that companies have put so much effort into finding a solution to the problem.

While we think all the products on our list are worthy purchases, we have a particular affinity for the Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water Original Double Pack (check price on Amazon).

It has an established reputation for excellence, contains high-quality ingredients, and is very palatable to babies. An affordable addition to any household, it will more than pay for itself with the relief it brings your baby.

We hope these pain-relieving products bring your baby plenty of satisfying farts (!) and you some much-needed peace of mind.

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Dr. Denys Tsveiuk, MD
Reviewed by Dr. Denys Tsveiuk, MDWritten by Neve Spicer Updated on October 4th, 2021

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