2 April 2012

Gripe Water or How We've Kept our Sanity

About a minute after Charlotte was born I started asking any and every nurse (or "sister" as they're called in South African hospitals) how the heck you're supposed to take care of a baby. They totally ate this up and soon every sister on the labor and delivery floor was stopping by to give the silly American girl advice. In the middle of newborn Charlotte's second night, as a sister rocked her to sleep in my room, she told me all about being a nanny for a wealthy Afrikaner family. When their son was born, he was colicky. Never slept. Always cried. Sitting on the edge of my bed I demanded, "And what did you do?!" To which she said, "Oh love, we just Gripe Watered it out of that baba." I remember thinking, I have no idea what that sentence means.

Tiny Charlotte and a Sister at the hospital in Cape Town.

 Two very short years later, I'm pretty sure we've been through about a case of the miracle serum Gripe Water. Gripe Water is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and dill seed oil...oh wait, and alcohol. 4.4% in fact. It's marketed to "Comfort Babies with Gripes" or as my bottle from South Africa says, "Vir Verligting Van Krampe by Babas."

Gripe Water was an accidental discovery by William Woodward in England. By 1851 it was mass produced and sold as a "soother of fretful babies."

Thanks to our good old FDA, I'm pretty sure it's nearly impossible to find the alcoholic version of Gripe Water in the States. In the last couple of years you could only find Gripe Water in natural food shops, but I've started noticing it in more mainstream stores like Target. Of course, this is the alcohol and sugar free version. We still stock up on the "real stuff" in South Africa.

Just read this article about a Gripe Water shortage in the UK. Moms are freaking out.

Our main endorsement for Gripe Water comes from its ability to fix truly whatever's ailing baby. So often babies fall in that gray area between contentment and needing actual medicine. That's when Gripe Water comes into play. Also plane rides. Flight attendants really should just hand out little cups full to every baby during boarding.

Of course many studies conclude that Gripe Water's effectiveness is purely anecdotal. However, a few years ago I read another study that compared fancy medicines often prescribed for colic against dill seed oil. Dill seed oil won out every time. In the comments section below the article, hundreds of European moms said over and over, "Yeah, it's called Gripe Water, Americans. We've been using it for more than a hundred years."


  1. Loving the information on this website , you have done great job on the posts. Thanks for providing such a great information with us.
    woodwards gripe water

  2. thank you for the information that you provided in your post it is helpful and beneficial. Why don't you try jdi miracle serum it has many uses and it may prove very helpful for you.

  3. Thanks for the useful information! I am looking to travel to Cape Town. Now that the cape town water shortage is no longer in effect, I am excited to visit!

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