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Infacol and gripe water are both used to relieve the symptoms of colic in babies. Some parents swear by one and others are fans of the other – some people use both at the same…but should they? Using two medicines together is a common question, the most common being calpol and nurofen.
Here we outline what infacol and gripe water are, their effectiveness at relieving colic, other ways to treat colic and steps to help prevent colic in the first place.
What is infacol?
Infacol is a medicine used for relieving colic and other stomach-related symptoms in infants. It’s what we give to our baby when he’s crying more than usual, or having trouble sleeping at night. Infacol helps relieve gut spasms which can cause pain, discomfort, gas and bloating in the tummy. The progressive effect of infacol means it works gradually over time which means it’s not a quick fix.
Infacol contains simethicone, a type of medicine called an antiflatulent. It works by helping to break down gas bubbles that are trapped in the intestine. It can be given from birth and has an orange flavour.
Specific information on Infacol can be found here, on Infacol’s own website.
The NHS website has some information on this, in summary they describe simethicone as a type of antiflatulent medicine used to treat symptoms such as farting, trapped wind, and bloating. It is made of a combination of silica gel and dimeticone and works by bringing together small gas bubbles in the gut to form larger bubbles, making it easier for trapped air to pass through the body. There is limited scientific evidence to support its use for colic in babies and people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
It is available without a prescription in pharmacies and some shops and comes in various forms such as tablets, capsules, drops, and liquid. It may also be combined with other ingredients such as antacids and diarrhoea medicines. Brand names include Maalox Plus and Imodium Plus.
What’s gripe water?
Gripe water is a syrup that has been used for generations to cure colic in infants and children. It contains the active ingredients: dill oil, ginger extract, fennel seed or aniseed oil, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and potassium benzoate; these are mixed with boiled water and sugar then bottled. The mixture was traditionally given as a teaspoonful of gripe on its own but it can also be dissolved into milk or fruit juice if desired.
Gripe water can be given from 1 month old, but please consult your doctor first to be sure it is appropriate for the age of your child.
The best time to give gripe water is when a baby has been crying inconsolably and nothing else seems to have worked, so this should not be given as an everyday treatment.
Gripe water can work by calming babies’ stomachs because it contains dill oil which eases bowel movements; with colic caused from gas or constipation, then the plant extract fennel seed may help. The sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in gripe water causes bubbles that stimulate gut contractions and helps push through any intestinal blockages while they are passing stool too; giving infants potassium benzoate will encourage urination by also stimulating gut contractions.
Gripe water can be used as a natural alternative to medication, but if this does not work then consult your doctor for other treatments.
Whattoexpect describe Gripe water as an over-the-counter liquid supplement that contains sodium bicarbonate and herbs such as fennel, ginger, chamomile, dill, lemon balm or peppermint. It is marketed as a remedy for symptoms such as gas pains, teething pain, hiccups and colic, however, there is not enough scientific evidence to support these claims. Some experts believe that the ingredients in gripe water can help relieve gas and stomach discomfort, however, it may also work simply because it tastes sweet. It is important to note that gripe water is different than over-the-counter baby gas drops which contain simethicone and are not proven to work. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that gas drops are safe to try and unlikely to cause any side effects.
Is Infacol the same as gripe water?
No, they are very different but with the same goals.
Infacol works by being closer to medication than gripe water does in order to get similar results with their slightly different methods. Infacol contains active ingredient simethicone which reduces intestinal gas bubbles so they can move through easier – relieving pressure as they pass along, whereas gripe water use natural ingredients.
As we’ve explained, Infacol uses simethicone and gripe water uses oil of Dill herb and Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate. The question really is do these ingredients clash with each other or not?
Can you use gripe water and infacol at the same time?
Gripe water and infacol can both be used at the same time, however you should follow the dosage instructions on each product. If a parent is in a position where this is considered then it could mean that there may have been some confusion or misunderstanding about what the cause of discomfort really is. Colic can look like other conditions which need to investigated before medication prescribed.
Gripe water has natural ingredients so if symptoms persist after taking gripe water for three days they should contact their doctor as it might not actually be colic but an indicator of another condition such as reflux, teething pain, hunger, lack of sleep, distress , etc.
The scientific answer is simethicone, oil of dill herb, and sodium hydrogen carbonate are generally considered safe to consume when used in appropriate amounts. Simethicone is an anti-foaming agent that is used to relieve symptoms of gas, while oil of dill herb is used as a flavoring and has been traditionally used to treat digestive issues. Sodium hydrogen carbonate (baking soda) is an alkali that is used as a leavening agent in baking and as an antacid to neutralize stomach acid.
While these substances are generally considered safe to consume, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist before taking them together, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition or are taking any other medications. They could potentially interact with other medications you are taking or have an adverse effect if consumed in excessive amounts.
What can cause colic
No one can definitively give a cause for colic, but we do know that it is often due to gas in the baby’s immature digestive tract due to their swallowing air when feeding. There are other theories such as that it is caused by restricted motion of the bowels, or responses to stresses outside – like hunger if they skipped meals.
Infacol, gripe water or a combination could help here.
Other causes are lactose intolerance and many parents have seen relief when they switch to a lactose free formula brand. Neither infacol or gripe water will cure colic if this is the case.
Ethnicity could also play into changes in hormones, diet, or genetics which make some groups more susceptible than others. Whatever someone’s theory on the matter might be though – colic is terrible and parents will do anything to stop it, which includes infacol and gripe water.