There are several skincare products that your baby may use, such as lotion, diaper cream and massage oil. It is not easy to choose a safe product for your baby, as marketing terms such as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘safe for baby’ are not regulated; learning to read the ingredient label is important, but even then it is difficult to fully understand the chemicals listed to decide if they are safe.
Coconut oil is therefore an alternative to these products as it is a single ingredient which reduces the risk of contact with chemicals that may cause rashes on your baby. There are many benefits of coconut oil, but getting the right kind is important. Take a look at the main types of coconut oil and it’s content.
1. Pure coconut oil – this is obtained from dried coconut flesh, and considered pure as no chemicals are added in the oil extraction process
2. Virgin coconut oil – this is obtained from coconut milk and retains the most antioxidants as no heating was used during the extraction process
3. Organic virgin coconut oil – this refers to the use of coconut palms which are farmed without the use of chemical fertilizers, and no chemicals are used during the extraction process
4. Refined coconut oil – this is oil that went through refining, bleaching and deodorization, also known as RBD – processed; this is used as cooking oil, and not for the skin due to the irritants that are introduced during processing
Out of the above, it is recommended to use organic virgin coconut oil for your baby as the source and the processing are done without heat nor the use of chemicals. Also ensure that the oil that you purchase is without preservatives and fragrances which are common contact allergens, meaning that they are more likely to irritant your baby’s skin.
Ways to Use Coconut Oil for Your Baby
Once you’re confident that you’ve got the right organic virgin coconut oil, you can start exploring these 12 ways of using them for your baby!
#1 Body Lotion
Instead of using body lotion with ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it is safer to use coconut oil that serves to protect your baby’s skin. It has moisturizing properties, and also it contains monolaurin which is studied to have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial properties without drying the skin (as opposed to hand sanitizers).
#2 Massage Oil
Coconut oil can also be used as a massage oil and compared to other oils such as olive oil, it is gentler on baby skin.
#3 Diaper Rash Cream
Instead of using diaper rash cream which contains numerous chemicals, coconut oil works as a layer of protection over your baby’s bum. Its natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties offer further protection for your baby’s skin. It is also less likely to cause skin irritation than the average diaper rash cream.
#4 Cradle Cap Oil
Cradle cap is a build-up on yellowish crust on infants’ scalp and the crust has to be removed regularly (otherwise, it gets thicker and causes more blockage – more of your baby’s hair will fall off the longer you wait to remove the crust!). Coconut oil can be applied to your baby’s scalp to soften and loosen the crusts, and it also helps to remove bacteria and fungus on the scalp.
#5 Preventive Moisturizer against Eczema
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, affects about 20% of children and is characterized by dry skin, itch and skin inflammation. It has been shown in various studies that moisturizing a high-risk baby (referring to atopic conditions present in immediate family) helps protect the baby from developing eczema. Coconut oil is a safe moisturizer for full-body application on your baby.
#6 Moisturizer for Eczema
Even when your baby has been diagnosed with eczema, coconut oil remains a safe choice for moisturizing. It is also helpful for children and adults who are sensitive to many ingredients in skincare products, as coconut oil is a single ingredient without added chemicals. Its natural anti-inflammatory property helps to relief the skin inflammation on eczema skin.
#7 Oil for Smoothing Hair
If your baby’s hair gets dry and tangled, coconut oil is a safe choice to use on your baby’s hair. Comb through the moistened hair to untangle the knots!
#8 Thrush Oil
Thrush, or candida, is a yeast infection that occurs inside your baby’s mouth, nappy area or other areas that are frequently moist. Coconut oil is suitable for treating thrush as it has natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties. If you are breastfeeding, you can drink a spoon of coconut oil and apply some on your nipples before breastfeeding. Check with the pediatrician before giving coconut oil directly to your baby.
#9 Baby Food
Coconut oil contains beneficial fats, including lauric acid that helps your baby’s digestion. It also has antimicrobial properties and helps the body to fight against bacteria, fungi and parasites that can cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in the absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Again, check with the pediatrician before directly feeding to your baby.
#10 Teething Gel/ Toothpaste
Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it a good substitute for commercial teething gel or toothpaste that may contain harmful chemicals. You can rub some of the oil onto your baby’s gum to clean and relieve it from teething pains.
#11 Baby Acne Oil
If your baby develops baby acne, a skin condition due to over-production of oil and the blockage and inflammation of skin pores, you can use coconut oil to treat the inflamed spots. However, it is best to check with the pediatrician on how much can be used as excessive coconut oil may also clog the pores.
#12 Insect Bites or Wounds Oil
As coconut oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help to treat insect bites and minor wounds.
Watch out for Coconut Allergy!
While allergy to coconut is rare, hypersensitive skin reactions to coconut products are more common. As such, it is best to test first on a small patch of skin before applying it more generously on your baby. It is also advisable to choose a quality organic virgin coconut oil to reduce the risk of skin reactions to chemicals used in the processing of coconut oil.