Why Is Gripe Water Banned?

Medically Reviewed on 2/10/2023
Gripe water is a herbal medication available in the liquid form.

Gripe water is a herbal medication available in liquid form. The U.S. FDA does not consider gripe water safe for children.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned gripe water due to the following reasons:

  • Some formulations of gripe water consist of alcohol. Alcohol, as high as 9%, can cause developmental problems in babies.
  • The U.S. FDA does not consider gripe water safe for children.
  • Wheat or dairy products in gripe water can upset the baby’s stomach. 
  • Some formulations of gripe water consist of sucrose, which yet again can prove to be unsafe for children. The high sugar content in the gripe water can harm the erupting teeth.
  • Gripe water may also contain gluten, dairy, parabens, and vegetable carbon, which can induce allergies in children.
  • It could potentially worsen a baby’s reflux symptoms.
  • It is unfit to be given to babies younger than one month.
  • Sodium bicarbonate present in the gripe water doesn’t have a specific role in treating colic. Long-term use of sodium bicarbonate may increase blood alkalinity or pH. 
  • FDA confirmed the presence of cryptosporidium (a parasite) in one of the formulations of gripe water.

What is gripe water? Is gripe water OK for newborns?

Gripe water is a herbal medication available in liquid form. It has been effective in treating colic in children. However, gripe water is not recommended for babies under 1 month old.  The digestion tract is sensitive and still developing at this age.

The main components of gripe water include:

When choosing gripe water, parents should check the label and avoid the product if it contains

  • Gluten
  • Dairy products
  • Alcohol
  • Sucrose

Colic is defined as excessive crying for more than three hours a day at least three days a week for three weeks or more in an otherwise healthy baby. One of the possible reasons could be stomach discomfort in children when unable to pass gas. The exact cause of colic is unknown; hence, there is no accepted conventional treatment. Infantile colic is self-limiting because it resolves at about three months of age. 

The herbs in gripe water are known to relieve digestive problems; hence, this formulation was recommended by physicians for the treatment of colic pain.

Gripe water has also been used to treat the following:

Because gripe water is a supplement and not a medication, it doesn’t come under the regulation of the FDA, which means that there is no guarantee for the ingredients mentioned on the label.


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What are the side effects of gripe water?

With newer formulations of gripe water, it has been claimed that they are generally safe. However, it is important to monitor for any side effects that include:

  • Allergic reactions: Hives, skin rashes, Itching, swelling of the lips or tongue, watery eyes, and difficulty of breathing are some of the few causes.
  • Upset stomach: Indigestion, constipation, vomiting, and diarrhea are a few causes.
  • Problems with teething
  • Metabolic alkalosis: Gripe water contains sodium bicarbonate, which can alter the body's acid-base balance and lead to metabolic alkalosis.
  • Overdose: Overconsumption of gripe water can lead to an overdose of sodium bicarbonate, causing symptoms such as confusion, headache, muscle twitching, fussiness, fever, and convulsions.
  • Interference with medications: Gripe water can interact with certain medications, such as antacids, and reduce their effectiveness.

It is important to always follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommended dosage when using gripe water and to consult with a pediatrician before using it, especially if your child has any underlying medical conditions.

Does gripe water work?

There is a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of gripe water for any of its intended purposes. The use of gripe water in infancy is not scientifically backed. Hence, always consult a pediatrician before giving gripe water to the baby.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/10/2023
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