Gripe Water vs Gas Drops: The Difference
New parents quickly learn that a gassy baby can become fussy in no time. Excessive gas can be painful for your little one (massaging can help!), and it's hard for you to witness. If your baby is uncomfortable or distressed due to gas, you may seek ways to relieve the excess bubbles and minimize them in the future. Two commonly used remedies for infant gas are gripe water and gas drops. Some parents strongly prefer one over the other, while others use them together. But which option is safer and more effective in the gripe water vs. gas drops debate? Is it advisable to use them together?
Ahead, we'll explore these two products and provide you with essential information to help you decide between the two. We’ll also go over their differences and any potential risks. Read on to help make your infant gas treatment choice more informed.
What Is Gripe Water?
Gripe water has gained popularity as a gas treatment, partly because it is marketed as an herbal dietary supplement, a growing category in recent years. At face value, being a “natural” botanical remedy might imply that it’s harmless, but that’s a common (and potentially harmful) misconception.
Unlike pharmaceutical gas drops, which are strictly regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA has never evaluated brand claims of gas relief, or determined if it is safe for infants, despite it being readily available for purchase. The Poison Control Center is a little more direct; it doesn’t recommend giving gripe water to babies at all, citing rare but potentially serious allergic reactions. Not to mention, renowned healthcare organizations, such as the Mayo Clinic, specifically discourage the use of herbal supplements for people under 18 due to the lack of clinical testing and safe dosage guidelines.
Other reasons it may be wise to avoid this bandwagon are certain ingredient and dietary concerns. Depending on the brand, the ingredients can vary widely, and they are absorbed into your baby’s bloodstream, where some could cause that rare allergic reaction the Poison Control Center cites. Plus, their exact mode of action is unclear.
Regularly ingesting herbal liquids may also lead to your baby not getting enough of what they really need—nutrients from their milk or formula. They can also contribute to lowering your baby’s blood sodium levels, something that could knock their little systems out of balance.
By now, you’re probably getting an idea of what the experts think of using this product. Of course, we’re here to educate and help you on your way, not tell you what to do. But if you do decide to give it a try, definitely be sure to consult your pediatrician first.
What Are Gas Drops?
It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’re a fan of natural remedies, OTC pharmaceutical baby gas drops may be the better gas treatment for your infant. That’s because the active ingredient is simethicone, which, unlike gripe water, isn’t absorbed into your infant’s system. After its job is done, it passes right through to your baby’s diaper. Simethicone simply helps gently break gas bubbles down to help your baby expel them naturally on their own.
Gas relief products like our Infants' Mylicon Dye-Free and Original formulas star simethicone as their hero ingredient. They’re also the #1 pediatrician-recommended brand and are free of saccharin, alcohol, artificial flavors, and gluten. Unlike gripe water, their claims are regulated by the FDA. The standard dose for babies is also only a fraction of a milliliter (0.3mL to be exact, a little less than 1/16th of a teaspoon).
Choosing Between Gripe Water and Gas Drops
Trendy gas relief products whose claims aren’t vetted by the FDA and that Poison Control warns against may not be right for your precious little one. If you want to stick with the baby gas experts, the choice is clear.
Is Gripe Water Good For Colic?
Colic, which can affect babies in their early months of life, is defined by crying that lasts more than three hours a day and happens more than three times a week for three weeks or longer. Aside from their crying, infants with colic may seem otherwise healthy. These mysterious tears can be challenging to see, hear, and manage for both you and your baby; it’s no wonder there’s such a slew of products that claim to help (whether or not they actually do).
Among them, you may have seen claims that gripe water helps to relieve infant colic in addition to gas. Not only does the science not agree, but it may actually be associated with bouts of infant constipation and vomiting, which can lead to even more crying. What some research does recommend is that healthcare providers educate parents on the misconceptions regarding this product and teach them feeding practices that are safer and healthier for their babies.
In case you need more convincing, Michigan Medicine (named one of the best hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report) even included gripe water on its list of “Harmful Treatments” for colic. The World Health Organization (WHO) also discourages using it as an aid for colic due to the lack of evidence of its efficacy, as well as its risk of introducing bacteria into your baby’s system and interfering with their regular nutritional needs. In short: the risks certainly seem to outweigh any potential benefits (unproven as they are).
Is Mylicon Good For Colic?
Though the cause of colic is unknown, a colicky baby may also suffer from gas as a result of swallowing air as they cry or feed. In that sense, yes, Mylicon can help relieve gaseous symptoms. (Discover the difference between colic vs. gas.)
And fortunately, we have another tool in our colic-soothing arsenal. The probiotic Bifidobacteria animalis subsp. Lactis in our Infants’ Mylicon Daily Probiotic Drops has been studied extensively in clinical trials, and has been shown to support immunity and digestive health. This “good” bacteria has also been clinically shown to help reduce daily crying and fussiness in infants with colic by 50% or more over time when given daily. That’s right, clinically-backed help for colic is out there!
Plus, our probiotic drops don’t contain any derivatives of wheat, gluten, artificial flavors, dairy, nuts, eggs, fish, or shellfish. Read more about their benefits in our article Why Babies Benefit From Probiotics.
How Often Should You Use Gas Drops or Gripe Water?
Since there is no regulatory guidance on how often, or even how much, gripe water is recommended, we can’t give you a solid answer on this one. What we can say with confidence is that our Infants’ Mylicon drops are safe enough to be used every day, at every feeding (up to 12 times a day*).
Simply shake the bottle before use, then fill the easy-view syringe to the appropriate dose as stated on the package. Dispense the liquid slowly, along your baby’s inner cheek, to the side of their tongue while holding them in an upright position as you would while feeding them. You can also opt to stir it into an ounce of cool formula or breastmilk.
*Use only as directed. Do not exceed 12 doses per day.
Can You Use Them Together?
A common question that comes up is if you can use both products at the same time. Though we can understand the urge to use anything and everything possible to help your baby’s gas, we’d be remiss if we condoned their dual use.
As you may have learned about us by now, we’re all about the science. Since gripe water claims aren’t scientifically supported or FDA-evaluated, we can’t in good conscience give you the go-ahead to use it on its own, let alone with gas drops. But if you’re looking for something you can safely use time and again to help treat infant gas, Mylicon is the way to go.
Like we say: Parents who know, know Mylicon.
Next: Find out what else you can do to help your colicky baby in our article How To Calm Your Crying & Fussy Baby.