DIY Gripe Water
If you have a colicky baby or a child with tummy pains make DIY gripe water. Gripe water is a traditional remedy for cranky babies. You know the kind. They cry inconsolably and pull their knees up to their chests. New Mommas can pace the floor for hours on end, feeling helpless and exhausted with a colicky baby. Gripe water is the traditional answer.
While today’s gripe water contains preservatives and fillers that the traditional remedy didn’t have, the traditional remedy is easy to make at home, using just a few grocery store staples. The Ayurvedic remedy contains sodium bicarbonate, dill and/or fennel seed, sugar, water plus four chemical preservatives. The active ingredients are the sodium bicarbonate and dill seed. The rest are filler and preservatives to make it shelf stable and make it taste good to momma. Your baby doesn’t need six of the seven ingredients in the plastic bottle.
The homemade version is easy to make with ingredients you can pick up at the grocery store. It’s even easier if you put the ingredients into press and seal tea bags and have it ready to go as needed. Did I mention it’s cheaper, too? Get the Press and Seal Tea Bags here.
Last summer, my new granddaughter came for a visit, with her parents. Ivy is 100% breast fed. At 6 months her stomach isn’t quite matured and she was still having bouts of colic. After a particularly sleepless night, her momma handed off Ivy in the morning so she could get a bit more sleep. I made this Gripe Water Tea in a few minutes and gave Ivy just a teaspoon. The magic was working in less than 5 minutes. The crying stopped. Her tummy settled and she was napping by the time her momma got up a few hours later.
This Gripe Water Remedy would make a lovely gift for a new momma, in press and seal tea bags. Momma just needs to steep the tea bag in a half cup of boiling water. Let it steep with a cover over it, for 15 minutes. Cool it and it’s ready to serve.
DIY Gripe Water Tea Bags
For those times when normal soothing and rocking doesn’t calm baby down you can make this DIY Gripe Water. Make it fresh as you need it. It doesn’t have any preservatives in it like commercial gripe water, so it shouldn’t be kept in the fridge longer than 24 hours. Any kept at room temperature more than 2 hours should be thrown out.
However, by making these in Press and Brew tea bags, for the new mom, they will be easy to make with little fussing when baby is already fussing.
Yield 36 tea bags
¼ cup fennel or anise seeds, lightly crushed
¼ cup dill seed, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons peppermint leaves, crushed
2 tablespoons chamomile blossoms, crushed
Place the fennel, and dill seed in a mortar and pestle and lightly crush them to release their volatile oils. You don’t want to powder them, but just break the seed to release the volatile oils. Pour the crushed seed into a prep bowl. Add peppermint leaves and chamomile blossoms, crushing them in your hands as you add them to the prep bowl. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl.
Fill the tea bags:
Spoon 1 teaspoon of the mixture into a Press and Brew tea bag. Press the seal on the tea bag with an iron set on cotton. Continue making tea bags until the mixture is used up.
To make the tea:
(include these directions with your gift)
Place the tea bag in a cup with a lid. The lid helps to keep the carminative volatile oils in the mug. Pour ½ cup of boiling water over the tea bag. Cover the cup and let the teabag steep for 15 minutes. Remove the lid. Press the tea bag with the back of a spoon to get as much herbal goodness out of the bag as possible.
Yield: 4 ounces of gripe water.
Cool the tea to body temperature. For the colicky baby, drizzle ½ to 1 teaspoon in the mouth, being careful not to choke the child.
In my experience, baby will have relief within 5 minutes. If the griping pain persists, a second ½ to 1 teaspoon can be given every 30 minutes.
This tea also calms gas, hiccups, and bloating in older children and adults. It is calming and relaxing to the digestive system. Since gripe water is food there is no unsafe dose. It can be offered as often as needed. For adults and older children use 1 cup of water per tea bag. The relaxing experience of drinking tea is part of the therapeutic value of this natural remedy.
Saving Gripe Water Till Later
Once the decoction is made, gripe water will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. You can also freeze it in ice cube size portions. Store the ice cubes it in a zip lock bag to use as needed. Each ice cube is about 1 tablespoon.
Why not make up a batch of these carminative digestive tea bags and gift them in a pretty tin for a new mom? They are safe for pregnant and nursing moms, as well as safe for infants.
Normal serving size:
½ teaspoon for newborns
1 teaspoon for infants to 6 months
1 tablespoon for toddlers to 2 years
½ cup for children under 5, honey may be added to sweeten to taste. Serve warm.
1 cup for ages 5 and up, honey may be added to sweeten to taste. Serve warm.
If colicky stomach pain continues talk to your doctor, check for food sensitivities or food allergies.
Where to source the fennel seed, dill seed, and other herbs in this recipe
Don’t buy the herbs in the little spice bottles at the grocery store. These are beyond expensive and usually not very fresh. Organic herbs are best. These can be found online at Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals, and Amazon. You may find them locally at an East Indian or Asian market, a bulk food store, or a health food store.
Where to buy Press and Seal tea bags
Amazon carries them but they are fairly expensive at Amazon. I bought mine at Mountain Rose Herbs. The price drops with the higher the number of tea bags per order. I also use these tea bags to package herbal remedies for travel, for gifts, and to portion out remedies for family members and friends.
Do you need tea bags with this recipe?
No, if you are the momma and you are making this on an as needed basis, I’d suggest making the recipe with loose herbs and putting it in a Pint Jar. Keep a tea strainer close at hand. Then just make the amount you need using a tea strainer. The Press and Brew tea bags are for convenience. A momma holding a crying baby often only has one hand and making tea with a tea bag only requires one hand. Herbal remedies that are used are better than herbal remedies that sit in a jar in the cupboard forgotten.
How would you adapt this recipe for older children and adults?
Honey should not be used with children under 2 unless you are intimately involved with bee keeping yourself and can vouch for the health of the bees and the food-safe nature of the honey. Honey is not inherently bad for babies, but with industrial practices the honey available in the store has risks. On the other hand, children ages 2 and older have little risk with honey and honey provides energy, vitamins, and other nutrients that benefit humans. Go ahead and sweeten this to taste.
Other carminative herbs can be added to the mixture as well as the ones listed. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and other chai spices are good additions to this mixture that can promote healthy digestion and reduce cramping and pain.
How long will the Gripe Water remedy last in the tea bags?
If the remedy is made with fresh spices the tea bags should remain potent for 6 months to a year, enclosed in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. After 9 months most infants outgrow the colicky stage. If you can still smell it, it’s still potent.
It’s totally fine to use this remedy as a digestive aid in older children and adults as well.
More Gift Ideas for New Moms
My ebook, “7 Herbal Gifts for New Moms, Gifts from the Garden to Make Mom’s Life Easier” is the perfect companion to using simple to find herbs to make comforting gifts for the new mom and baby in your life. Gifts such as herbal baby powder, milk enhancing tea, and herbs for comforting baths are quick to put together and will be appreciated by the new momma.
7 recipes with complete instructions are included.
30 pages, pdf format.