When your baby or child is fussy or not feeling well, it’s natural to look for whatever might help them. Parents around the world have administered gripe water to babies and children in hopes that it would soothe stomach issues, colic and more.1 Even with widespread use, there are still concerns about whether gripe water is safe for babies and children.1,2,3,4 Research shows that gripe water has not been proven safe or effective for babies or children, and we’ll explain why.1,2,3,4,5

What Is Gripe Water?

Gripe water is sold over the counter by many companies and marketed as an herbal remedy.6 Gripe water ingredients vary widely.1,2,6 It often contains dill seed oil, ginger, fennel and/or sodium bicarbonate; sometimes includes alcohol and sugar; and may be made with a variety of additional herbs or flavors.1,2,6

Problems with Gripe Water

While some people may swear by the effectiveness of gripe water, this claim hasn’t been proven by scientific research. There is evidence, though, that gripe water is associated with the following risks:

Unregulated Formulas and Dosages

Gripe water isn’t a proven or approved medicine.1,2,3,4,5 The formulas and dosages don’t follow standardized guidelines to ensure consistency.1,2,3,4,5,6 These variables can leave it open to cause harm, from containing undissolved ingredients to microbial contamination (both of which have been reasons for gripe water recalls).


Gripe water products have been recalled for various reasons.6 These have included gripe water that contained parasites, microbial contamination and ingredients that could be choking hazards because they hadn’t dissolved properly.5,6

Diarrhea, Vomiting and Septic Shock

Unfortunately, gripe water has been associated with negative outcomes for babies and/or children at times. 1,2,6 Studies have shown that, in some cases, contaminated gripe water has caused diarrhea, vomiting or septic shock.1,2,6

Alternatives to Gripe Water

If you’re considering gripe water to help with constipation, colic or fussiness that may be due to tummy troubles , here are a few alternatives to try instead, if your doctor agrees:

For Babies

  • Try a different feeding technique. If your baby is bottle-fed, try feeding in a vertical position in combination with frequent burping. If you’re breastfeeding, consider seeing a lactation consultant.6
  • Implement soothing techniques, such as a pacifier, ride in the stroller, changing scenery to minimize visual stimuli, an infant swing or a warm bath.
  • Move their legs in a bicycle motion.6
  • Change their formula.6
  • Learn about more ways to soothe a colicky baby.

For Children

  • Foster healthy eating habits
  • Focus on hydration8
  • Encourage movement (but only if comfortable and recommended by your doctor)8

If your little one is fussy or in pain, it’s always best to ask your healthcare provider for guidance. Gripe water is not considered safe for newborns, babies or children in general.1,2,3,4,5,6,7 For other ways to support your family’s health and happiness, please see more of our tips and resources.