BY BLAIR BADENHOP
Babies need a lot of tender, loving care. And as a mum, you want to be sure that the products you’re choosing are safe and nourishing for their sensitive skin and systems, which is not always easy.
If you’re concerned about the dangers of various chemicals and ingredients in mainstream baby products, you’re right to be. A lot of them are filled with junk, plain and simple. Junk that shouldn’t be anywhere near a baby, let alone rubbed all over their skin.
But it can be a difficult and time-consuming task to do the research required to avoid that junk, and to find the safest alternatives for each of the different types of baby products you need. Time most new mums simply don’t have.
Well, what if there was one totally natural, safe, organic and effective product you could keep on hand that would replace a laundry list of others? One product that could make the old nappy bag quite a bit lighter on your shoulders?
A product that never comes with a list of sketchy ingredients.
A product so safe you could eat it.
And a product that there are so many uses for, they couldn’t all fit in one article!
That product, dear friend, is coconut oil.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil has been used around the globe for centuries as a nourishing superfood and for its healing modality. And the cool part is, the Western world has only just begun to understand its power. (Which is why you hear so much about it!)
Extracted directly from fresh coconuts, its molecular makeup is almost entirely saturated fat (the good kind). But what’s truly powerful about coconut oil is the fact that the saturated fat is heavy in something called medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are metabolized differently by the body than other fatty acids and can have therapeutic effects.
These MCFAs, especially one called lauric acid (the predominant one found in coconuts) are known to be:
- Anti-bacterial: helping to prevent and heal different types of bacterial infections.
- Anti-fungal: helping to kill the fungi and yeast that can lead to infection.
- Anti-viral: helping to prevent and heal some forms of viral infection.
- Anti-inflammatory: which helps suppress inflammation and repair healthy tissue.
In fact, the medium chain fatty acids and ‘monoglycerides’ found in coconut oil are the same as those found in human breast milk, giving it vital immune boosting properties.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT COCONUT OIL
Not all coconut oil is created equal though.
Just like any other food product, the extraction and production techniques matter. There are a few different kinds to choose from, some much better than others.
Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil
This is the gold standard, offering the most benefits in the purest form. It’s extracted from fresh coconut using a fermentation process that protects the beneficial properties. It has the highest level of antioxidants.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
This can be confusing because ‘extra virgin’ is the gold standard for olive oil. The same does not ring true for coconut oil though. This version is produced by cold-pressing but doesn’t preserve the nutrients or antioxidants quite as well as the fermentation process mentioned above.
Refined Coconut Oils
It should come as no surprise that refined coconut oils have been stripped of their beneficial nutrients though extreme heating, bleaching and deodorising. They are often tasteless and lack any smell. Healthy, beneficial coconut oil should smell and taste great, just like coconuts!
You may have heard of MCT coconut oil benefits in the world of nutrition supplements recently. This is a liquid oil extract that does not contain all of the beneficial properties of unrefined, organic coconut oil but is higher in the specific, brain-boosting fats. This can be beneficial in supplement form to adults but it’s not the beneficial oil we’re talking about when it comes to natural replacements for baby products.
20 WAYS TO USE COCONUT OIL FOR YOUR BABY
Now that you know what it is, why it’s beneficial, and the best kind to choose, what do you actually do with it?
Here are 20 excellent ways to put this versatile product to good use on your baby:
1. Cloth-nappy-safe diaper cream. Simply rub it on your baby’s bottom instead of regular nappy cream.
2. In place of nipple butters and balms. This one benefits mum too! Helps sooth sore nipples and prevents and treats candida (or yeast infections on the nipple). You don’t even have to clean it off before breastfeeding (one less thing to worry about!).
3. To increase milk supply and the nutrient quality of milk. Mums can eat a couple of tablespoons a day or simply mix it into a smoothie.
4. To soothe itchy dry skin (yours or baby’s). Just rub it on and you’re done. Nuff said.
5. To get rid of cradle cap. Simply massage into the affected area, leave for a few minutes and gently remove with warm water and a wash cloth.
6. To treat baby acne. Apply a thin layer twice daily until it’s gone.
7. On bug bites or stings. Apply directly to the sting to quell the burn/itch/stinging and initiate the healing process.
8. As a nappy rash balm. Soothes and comforts an inflamed bum with no harsh chemicals. Simply apply to the rashy area at each changing.
9. As a poo repellant. Applying in between nappy changings will provide a slick, safe barrier between messy diapers and sensitive skin.
10. To ease croup symptoms. Some mums apply a mixture of coconut oil and essential oils to their baby’s chest to ease coughs.
11. To ease ear infection symptoms. A few drops inside the ear twice daily can relieve pain and help fight the infection itself.
12. To fight ringworm. Apply coconut oil to the area multiple times per day until it goes away.
13. As a teething pain reliever. Rub directly onto their gums to provide a bit of ease.
14. To treat eczema. Massage the affected areas with coconut oil before and after bath time and again at bedtime to gradually get rid of it.
15. On dry and chapped lips (yours or baby’s). Apply oil evenly around baby’s lips and mouth with a clean finger.
16. As DIY baby body wash. Mix coconut oil with chemical-free castile soap and water, gently massage on baby and rinse off with warm water and a soft washcloth.
17. To treat thrush. A common yeast infection babies get in the mouth, nappy area or other areas, often from mum’s breast milk. A tablespoon of coconut oil each day yourself is said to prevent more yeast in your breast milk. Also apply to nipples before feeding.
18. As baby shampoo. Spread a small amount of coconut oil evenly over baby’s hair, rinse with warm water and smooth with fingers or a soft baby brush.
19. As baby body lotion. Just take a little and rub on skin.
20. On minor burns, bumps and cuts. Hopefully your little one won’t have any of these but in the off-chance they do, rub a little coconut oil on the area to help the wound heal and prevent infection.
This magical, multi-purpose oil has been used throughout the ages to heal a variety of ailments, and to nourish and strengthen the human body and immune system.
Not only that, but it’s naturally occurring anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, is incredibly effective in preventing and treating a host of common issues your baby might experience. Not to mention your job as mum is made way easier.
Please note: This article is intended for general information purposes only. Any suggestions provided do not take into account personal circumstances. Guidance is not intended to be advice, it is not intended to be relied upon and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice based on personal circumstances. Always seek medical advice before proceeding with home remedies, especially for more severe cases. Be sure to check with your pediatrician before use. More in our Business Terms.