Coconut oil is a natural and cost-efficient home essential that offers numerous benefits for mom and baby. This multi-purpose superfood is not only helpful to have in the kitchen, but it can also simplify your beauty routine and contribute to your family’s overall wellness.
It’s been a decade since I threw out all of my overpriced and toxic makeup. As a NYC PR gal working in the beauty industry, I had amassed quite a collection. Although it took me years to find a clean mascara that could rival my old designer favorite, I quickly learned that coconut oil has a lot to offer in the beauty department.
Back then, I was truly surprised by the seemingly countless uses of coconut oil. Now, not a day goes by when I don’t use it in some fashion. And when the doula present at our home birth recommended it to help remove sticky meconium, I didn’t bat an eyelash.
Although I’m no longer astonished by how remarkable it really is, I continue to learn helpful new ways to use coconut oil around the house. As our family has grown, so has my appreciation for coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Skin Care for Mom and Baby
Rich in fatty acids, coconut oil can provide head-to-toe hydration for radiant skin. It’s especially good for rough areas that may require extra love, like ankles and elbows. I love using it in my homemade sugar scrub. Coconut oil can also soften dry cuticles and help heal chapped lips.
It makes a nourishing two-in-one cleanser and night cream. Simply rub it into your skin for 30 seconds and then wipe away any excess oil that your skin hasn’t absorbed with a warm washcloth. Just know that some may find it too oily for a facial night cream.
Additionally, you can use coconut oil to gently remove eye makeup. It quickly sweeps away the most stubborn of mascaras and leaves lashes conditioned. Rinse well or use a warm, damp cloth to wipe it off. As a bonus, any leftover oil will hydrate the delicate skin around the eyes.
If, like me, you’re not wearing eye makeup much these days, you can still use coconut oil as an eye cream. I think it helps reduce puffiness and dark circles after those sleepless nights.
Coconut oil is loaded with antioxidants, which slow and prevent free radicals from causing cell damage. In other words, it might help with fine lines and wrinkles.
Coconut oil is a fantastic moisturizer for baby, too. It can be used like a lotion. I’ve heard that it can relieve eczema symptoms as well.
Because of its antifungal and antimicrobial effects, coconut oil can help heal and prevent diaper rash. I prefer to use it with other ingredients in my homemade diaper rash cream.
And in case you were wondering, the doula was right about using coconut oil to clean up meconium. If you can remember to put a little on your newborn’s bum before the first diaper change, even better.
Coconut Oil During Pregnancy
In my experience, the antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil are beneficial for dealing with pregnancy acne and preventing future breakouts. (It can treat baby acne, too.) The man of the place said I had a pregnancy glow, and I wonder how much coconut oil contributed to that.
On that note, I also used coconut oil to prevent pregnancy stretch marks. My midwife advised that I use coconut oil for perineal massage to prevent tearing.
Coconut Oil for the Nursing Mom and Her Baby
After Little Bear was born, I learned that coconut oil can soothe sore nipples after breastfeeding. I’ve also heard you can apply it to the flanges to reduce friction when pumping.
I didn’t worry about getting a little organic unrefined coconut oil in his mouth because MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil is often given to premature infants. More on that soon. Because of the antifungal properties of coconut oil, it may also prevent thrush.
Coconut allergies are rare, but as always, use your maternal intuition and consult a qualified medical provider, if you have concerns about using it.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is also present in a mother’s milk. This fatty acid, with antiviral and antimicrobial properties, enhances immunity.
Consuming a couple tablespoons of coconut oil daily may boost milk supply and increase the nutrition of it. (Please note that eating it on an empty stomach may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.) This will also increase the lauric acid content of the milk, offering greater protection for baby.
Remember how I mentioned that MCT formulas have been given to low birth weight babies? Studies have also shown that massaging preterm infants with MCT oil is effective for weight gain. MCT oil is often derived from coconut oil.
I do not recommend supplementing with coconut oil, but I did give Little Bear daily coconut oil massages when I was struggling with low milk supply. He still enjoys having a coconut oil massage after a bath.
Thankfully, Wilder Baby has been gaining weight at a healthy rate. I still give him plenty of coconut oil massages, though. It’s a great way to bond, and it helps him relax. When he is gassy, I give him a gentle tummy massage, using a clockwise circular motion to provide relief.
Infant massage reportedly promotes physical, social, emotional, and mental development. In my experience, it seems to improve sleep, which is beneficial for mom and baby. Giving my children coconut oil massages even makes me feel more peaceful, and I enjoy those restful moments.
Coconut Oil Haircare
Play kitchen beautician and use coconut oil as an intensive conditioning hair mask prior to cleansing. Plus, its antifungal properties make it a fantastic dandruff remedy. Whether your hair is over-processed and damaged, or you’re seeking softness and shine, coconut oil is an effective way to nourish tresses; however, it may not be suitable for all hair types.
Simply scoop out a few tablespoons, depending upon the length and thickness of your hair. It will be a solid at room temperature, so use your hands to warm and apply it from roots to ends (thin or oily hair types may want to avoid the roots), massaging into dry hair and distributing evenly. Next, cover with a shower cap and let the oil work its magic.
The longer you leave it in the better, but if an overnight treatment doesn’t suit your schedule, 15 to 30 minutes can work wonders. Wash your hair well; especially, if you slathered it on your scalp. You can smooth a small amount through clean strands to prevent frizz, flyaways, and frazzled ends.
It’s helpful for removing unwanted hair, as a shaving cream, too. Not only does coconut oil reduce razor burn and irritation, but also it is fitting for sensitive skin. Rinse your razor often, and be aware of the oil on the shower floor.
Coconut oil can soften and loosen cradle cap. About 20 minutes before baby’s bath, lightly massage a tablespoon of coconut oil onto the scalp and let it sit. You can use a fine-tooth comb, a soft brush, or even a washcloth to gently remove the flakes. Then shampoo as normal and repeat as necessary.
Coconut Oil in the Kitchen for Mom and Baby
Coconut oil is one of the best oils for cooking. It’s great for baking (such as in these einkorn shortbread cookies), frying (like in this orange cauliflower recipe), and so much more.
I like to use it as a butter replacement, substituting it at a 1:1 ratio. Sometimes, I even spread it on homemade bagels. The results aren’t exactly the same, but I personally prefer the plant-based option.
Coconut oil also makes an excellent addition to smoothies. It’s a healthy fat that may help balance and regulate hormones. As with anything, moderation is key.
Once baby starts solids, include this ingredient in baby food recipes, since healthy fats are important for brain development. Remember that it is rich in lauric acid. Little Bear especially enjoyed having coconut oil with pineapple and pitaya.
Coconut oil is a common ingredient in natural toothpastes. I like to use it for oil pulling, an Ayurvedic technique that boasts numerous health benefits. The detoxifying effects of the practice can prevent bad breath and lead to brighter teeth, healthier gums, and an improved lymphatic system and complexion. It has been said to remineralize teeth and prevent cavities.
Many oil pullers experience an increase in energy, better sleep, and a clearer mind as well. (Mommy brain, anyone?) Traditionally, sesame oil was used for oil pulling; however, lots of people find the taste of coconut oil more tolerable.
Simply swish one to two tablespoons of oil in your mouth for approximately 20 minutes, as this is the time it takes to “pull” out the plaque and bacteria without the body reabsorbing the toxins. Afterwards, spit the cloudy, white liquid into the toilet or trash (you don’t want to clog the sink). Follow by rinsing your mouth with water and brushing your teeth.
When baby starts teething, you can apply coconut oil directly to the gums to relieve discomfort.
Coconut Oil for Kids
I’m learning even more ways to use coconut oil, now that Little Bear’s a toddler. He loves to be outdoors, and topical coconut oil provides some UV protection. (It’s a low SPF, though, so don’t use it alone as a sunscreen.)
He often comes back inside with bug bites. Coconut oil seems to soothe them, and it can be used as an insect repellant. I’ve read that combined with apple cider vinegar, it can get rid of lice.
Here on the mountain, I will definitely continue to keep a jar of coconut oil in the cabinet because it has so many benefits for the whole family. I’ll make sure it’s a glass jar, though, to avoid leaching plastic. Plus, they are more environmentally friendly.
What are your favorite ways to use coconut oil?
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