What's the difference between gas drops and gripe water?

Gas drops and gripe water claim to do the same thing: solve your baby's gas problem. So what's the difference between the two products? And does it matter which one you give to your baby?

In this article, we'll compare and contrast gas drops and gripe water. 

Gas Drops

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Gas drops usually refer to products that have simethicone as an active ingredient. Simethicone-based products make up the majority of gas drops on the market, including: Alka-Seltzer Anti Gas, Colic Drops, Colicon, Degas, Equate Infants' Gas Relief  Flatulex Drops, Gas Aide, Gas-X, Genasyme, Little Remedies Gas Relief Drops (or also called Little Tummies), Maalox Anti-Gas, Major-Con, Micon-80, Mylanta Gas, Mylaval, Mylicon, Mytab Gas, Phazyme, SonoRx, and more! All of these gas relief products are essentially the same thing with different presentations. But sometimes they have different flavors, which might matter more than you think.

Simethicone-based gas drops really do make babies cry less, but it's probably not because the simethicone does anything to help gas. In a scientific study, simethicone performed no better than a similar-tasting placebo in treating gassy babies. So, it's the sweet taste, not the simethicone, that makes the babies happy. And the taste really does calm the babies down! So, gas drops may not decrease gas, but they do make your baby feel better. 

We used simethicone-based gas drops with our daughter, and they helped a lot. Little Remedies Gas Drops were our favorite. But like we stated above, it really doesn't matter much which you choose, as long as your baby likes the taste!

Gas drops can also refer to homeopathic gas drops, which don’t really have an active ingredient. Homeopathic drops are “alternative medicine” that do not rely on mainstream science and thus contain no actual medicine (at least not according to the traditional definition of the word). However, because the sweet taste is what really matters here, homeopathic gas drops may perform just as well as anything else. However, unlike normal gas drops, homeopathic infant gas drops might be dangerous for your baby. So we cannot and do not recommend that you try homeopathic remedies to help your gassy baby.

Gripe Water

Gripe water is a "natural" remedy for infant gas, usually made from a mixture of baking soda and herbs. That being said, there is no single way to make gripe water; different brands have different formulas for gripe water. The reason for all the different formulas is that gripe water used to be made from alcohol and sugar, which is no longer considered acceptable to give to babies. So now gripe water manufacturers have to come up with new recipes if they want to keep selling their products. These days gripe water manufactures market the product as a natural, herbal remedy.

But it's not the herbs that make gripe water so effective with gassy babies. Just like with gas drops, babies simply like the taste of gripe water. So babies really do calm down after drinking gripe water, but not because the herbs do anything to help the gas. It's all a matter of taste.

Unfortunately, too much gripe water can be harmful for babies. Since most gripe water recipes contain baking soda, taking too much gripe water can lead to alkalosis or milk alkali syndrome. That being said, this probably will not happen to your child (because most parents don't go overboard with gripe water). But you should be aware that gripe water is not always harmless. And if you decide to use gripe water on your baby, stay away from versions of the product that use alcohol. 

Bottom Line

Gripe water and gas drops are completely different products, but they treat gassy babies in the exact same way. It's all about distracting the baby with something sweet! That's not what the products advertise, but it seems to be what's really happening. 

That being said, we still think gas drops are worth using. A baby that stops crying is baby that stops swallowing air, and that probably does help with gas. And a happier baby certainly makes for a happier home!