You are giving a few drops of gripe water to your extremely fussy baby and it seems to help your baby sleep better.
To avoid running out of gripe water in the middle of the night, you immediately purchase 5 more bottles. You feel relieved thinking that from now on, when there is nothing else you can do to soothe your fussy baby, you have something to run to. It’s your life guard.
A few days go by, when you pour the gripe water, you notice it has slightly changed its color.
Does gripe water expire? Have you been giving expired gripe water to your baby, who you supposedly protect from every single harmful thing in the world?
Relax. Take a short breath.
Before opening every single bottle to check on its color, let’s find out if your gripe water has gone bad, and how to properly store it.
What is gripe water?
Let's recap what we have learned in the articles “How much Gripe Water can you leave a newborn and when is it too much”
Gripe Water is a solution that includes herbs and sodium bicarbonate. Depending on the brand and the formula, Gripe Water can contain fennel, ginger, peppermint, lemon juice, etc. The FDA does not approve Gripe Water, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says it is a safe option to try with a reasonable dosage.
Does gripe water expire?
On every box, you will find the expiration date of gripe water. However, gripe water can go bad even before that expiration date.
After opening, if being stored in the refrigerator properly and being used with a clean syringe or spoon, your gripe water can be used for up to 6 weeks (like Mommy's Bliss) or the labeled expiration date (whatever comes first). If you store it at room temperature, it is wise to frequently look for signs of expiration every time you use it after 2 weeks’ time.
Can you use gripe water after 2 weeks?
The general rule of thumb for storing any kind of medicines, supplements is to store them in a dry and cool area, avoiding direct sunlight. Some medicines and supplements require to be stored in the refrigerator, some don’t. However, the general rule for syrups and med drops are as below:
- Syrup with antibiotics: use up to 1 week if storing at room temperature, up to 10 - 14 days if storing in the refrigerator.
- Syrup without antibiotics: use up to 1 month after opening.
After opening, the syrups and drops will contact the air, become oxidized and change their structure. Depending on the ingredients in gripe water, the manufacturers (can recommend storing them in the fridge or not.
However, wherever you store it, if you don’t feed gripe water to your baby properly, it can be contaminated and spoiled before its expiration date.
How does gripe water go bad?
As the main ingredients in gripe water are natural. And when things are purely natural, they don’t last long.
To preserve the gripe water for a longer period, the manufacturers decide to add in some antioxidants. The more you open the lid, the more gripe water contacts the air, the faster the rate of oxidation.
Some gripe water doesn’t include preservatives (natural or chemical), which makes them get oxidized and spoiled faster at room temperature.
How you use gripe water and feed it to your baby also matters. You must wash the syringe or whatever you use (like spoon or straw) before and after use. If you spill some gripe water and need to get more, without washing the syringe or spoon after contacting your baby’s mouth or your own skin, you are exposing the gripe water to contamination risk.
Why do you have to throw away gripe water after 6 weeks?
If you store gripe water properly and make sure you always use a clean syringe or spoon to get it, you can use the gripe water for up to 1 month to 1.5 month (6 weeks).
However, do not try to keep using it after 6 weeks even though it is still well under the labeled expiration date. Because no matter how careful you are, your fridge is not a lab, and it will always get spoiled somehow, slowly but surely.
Why do you have to refrigerate gripe water?
Is it a must to refrigerate gripe water? No if you read the instructions on the box.
However, as we have mentioned above, there are other factors that impact the quality of gripe water. I recommend always refrigerating it, simply to slow down the spoiling and rate of oxidation.
Does gripe water expire if unopened?
Even unopened, gripe water still gets oxidized from the little air within the bottle. Therefore, it still gets expired slowly through time.
Therefore, if you are trying to store gripe water, remember not to keep a stash. And always watch out for spoilage signs.
Does gripe water expire if it changes color?
Gripe water can change color. You might notice it slightly turns to a more yellowish color after a few uses. That is the unique sign of oxidation.
Once gripe water changes color, the quality has been reducing, so you might either notice it has less effect on your baby.
I consider spoilage means it will be harmful to use. Gripe water changes to yellowish doesn’t mean it is spoiled.
Below is the list of common spoilage signs of gripe water. Make sure you frequently watch out for these before every use.
- Strange smell
- Rising air bubbles
- Unnatural colors (anything that is not slightly yellowish)
How to store gripe water after opening properly
Even some manufacturers have clear instruction on how to store gripe water after opening, I recommend doing the fully followings:
- Put the opened gripe water in the separate zip-lock bag
- Seal the zip-lock bag and put it in the separate container in the fridge
- Wash your hands, syringes, spoons, straws or anything else you use to feed gripe water before and after every use
It is not uncommon that sometimes you might be feeding your baby spoiled or low quality food and supplements simply just because you are not aware. Fortunately, you can prevent it.
At least with gripe water. Now you are armed with a full guide on how to use it, store it properly and how long you can use it for.
Just make sure you watch out for strange signs every time you are about to give it to your little one.