What is Gripe Water?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on April 11, 2023
3 min read

Newborns are often fussy. You may have changed your baby’s diaper, fed and burped them, and they may still be inconsolable. If this is the case, excessive gas or tummy problems may be to blame. After all, your newborn’s digestive system is working independently for the first time.

Your pediatrician may say that your baby has colic if your baby cries for more than three hours in a row at least three days a week. Can gripe water help ease his symptoms?

Gripe water is considered an herbal remedy. Although many parents swear by it, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved gripe water. There is also no proof that it works to ease stomach discomfort in babies who may suffer from colic.

Previously, common ingredients found in gripe water included alcohol and sodium bicarbonate, accompanied by other herbal remedies like dill seed oil and ginger. Today, gripe water ingredients vary by brand, with many no longer including alcohol as a common ingredient. You should always check labels before administering any medication or dietary supplement to your baby.

Alcohol, in particular, is dangerous for newborn babies. Some gripe waters have a concentration of up to 9%, which is thought to provide soothing relief to your baby. However, it can also lead to addictive responses.

Colic is a condition that affects as many as one in five babies in their first three months of life. Most of the time, you can pinpoint a reason that your baby is fussy or crying. But with colic, that is not the case. Colicky babies have a different and distinguishable crying pattern.

Babies with colic are otherwise healthy and growing as they are expected to. They are usually more agreeable during the day, with colic crying beginning in the evenings and lasting for several hours at a time. During colic crying, your baby may:

  • Have a high-pitched cry or a cry that sounds like screaming
  • Be very difficult to soothe and won’t calm down
  • Have a red face and may be pale around their lips
  • May bend their knees up, stiffen their arms, arch their back, or clench their fists

If your baby has colic, there are other ways to help. If all else fails, call a friend or family member to come and help so you can take a break from your crying baby. Or if you need to lay your baby in their crib and take a break, that’s OK too. In their crib, you’ll know they’ll be safe even if they are upset. Keep in mind that there is no targeted solution for colic, but you can figure out what works for your baby.


Breastfeed or offer a bottle as your baby may be hungry or need comfort. If you use formula, talk to your doctor about switching to a different kind. If you breastfeed, some foods you eat may pass through breast milk and bother your baby’s tummy, like caffeine, dairy, soy, egg, and wheat.

You can also take breaks during feedings to burp your baby more often. If you use bottles, try different bottles that have ventilation filters, allowing less air into the milk as your baby drinks.


Babies often feel comforted by motion. Try walking around with your baby or rocking them in a rocking chair. You can even put them in the stroller and push them around, or take them for a ride around the block in your car.


Speak to your baby softly or play music that they respond to. If you have a sound machine or a white noise machine, turn it on.

Less Stimulation

Sometimes the bottom line is that your baby is feeling overstimulated by all of the sights, sounds, and feelings bombarding them. Try swaddling your baby, so they feel secure and lay them in their crib with the lights off.

When to Call Your Doctor

When your baby cries all the time because of colic it can be difficult to tell if something is seriously wrong, or if your baby is colic crying. Call your doctor if your baby displays any of these symptoms, which may indicate a more serious condition:

  • A fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher
  • Your baby is less alert than usual
  • They aren’t eating well
  • Their poop becomes looser or you see blood in their poop
  • They are vomiting more than just spit up
  • They are losing weight or not gaining weight