Why do babies get constipated so easily nowadays? "Thanks" to the infant formula that contains little or no dietary fiber and medium-chain fatty acids that are critical for infants to move their bowels regularly. In contrast, exclusively breastfed infants are rarely constipated because breast milk has got a good amount of medium-chain fatty acids that almost always help to soften stools and stimulate bowel movement for infants.
So, if you exclusively feed your baby infant formula, you need coconut oil since it houses considerable amount of medium-chain fatty acids (especially lauric acid) that are also naturally present in breast milk. Here are the 3-step guide to help your baby relieve constipation with the correct use of coconut oil.
Step 1: Choose organic virgin coconut oil
Virgin coconut oil carries the best nutritional structure for both health improvement and bowel movement. And if it's organic, that will benefit your baby even more since you wouldn't want to expose him or her to pesticides, unknown substances or artificial chemicals.
So, make sure you choose only organic virgin coconut oil for your baby.
If you think your baby doesn't seem to like the fresh coconut fragrance in virgin coconut oil, you can use deodorized organic coconut oil instead. It is an RBD coconut oil that contains no odor, but which carries almost the same constipation-relief benefit as that of virgin coconut oil.
Step 2: Test for allergic reaction
Unless he or she is born allergic to coconut, virgin coconut oil should not trigger any allergy-like reactions on your baby (at least so far I have not heard of anyone suffering allergy from eating virgin coconut oil).
But to play safe, perform a quick test by gently rubbing a dab of the oil on the inside of your baby's elbow area. Let the oil seep through the skin.
If your baby is allergic to virgin coconut oil, it should appear within a few minutes. But it's good to make sure this unrefined oil is good on the infants externally for at least 12 hours before starting it internally on them.
I know you're anxious to help your baby to relieve constipation, but for the sake of his or her safety, stay cool and be patient.
Step 3: Start little and increase progressively
Virgin coconut oil can be powerful in moving bowels. So, the first thing you need to do is to start with just half a teaspoon (NOT tablespoon) on your baby.
Mix half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of virgin coconut oil in your baby's breakfast. And make sure he or she drinks enough fluid as well because adequate fluid intake is still necessary for bowel stimulation.
After 4–5 hours if your baby still shows no signs of moving bowels, pour another 1 teaspoon over his or her meal (if your baby has past lunch time, then give him or her some snacks along with the oil).
For the first 5 days, keep the maximum daily intake of virgin coconut oil at just 3 teaspoons, spreading throughout the day. Then on the 6th day if your baby looks fine with virgin coconut oil, up his or her intake by teaspoonful like this – instead of ½ teaspoon added to breakfast, make it one teaspoon. Lunch will be one or 2 teaspoons and so on. Maintain maximum daily intake of 6 teaspoons for another 5 days before you increase the amount again.
When I say maximum, I do not mean that you need to give your baby that much. If let's say he or she can move bowels with just 4 teaspoons per day, then keep to that amount.
There's no one standard dosage for all infants since each baby has a different body constitution as they're developing and may react differently with virgin coconut oil. You just have to find and fine-tune the right dosage for your baby that will help him or her relieve constipation.
Please bear in mind not to feed virgin coconut oil when your baby's stomach is empty. Also, never attempt to feed him or her straight from the jar. Always mix coconut oil with food. This can help to prevent him or her from getting the runs too frequently and suffering from bad stomach cramp.
The key to treating constipation on infants with virgin coconut oil is to start with a small amount first (just to be on the safe side) and then increase the amount gradually and progressively. At the same time, monitor closely for any peculiar reactions on your baby and respond accordingly based on your own judgment.
This 3-step guide on constipation relief with coconut oil works for toddlers as well.
In case you start breastfeeding your baby but your baby is still not moving bowels smoothly, you can actually consume virgin coconut oil to increase the production of medium-chain fatty acids in your breast milk. Same thing as feeding your baby virgin coconut oil, you need to start with a small dose first and then increase the amount gradually to avoid diarrhea-like effect on you.
What if your baby still doesn't have bowel movement with coconut oil?
It really depends on the age of your baby. The younger they are, the slower their bowels will be as their body is still under development.
A sluggish bowel will cause more water to get absorbed (into their body and pass out as urine or evaporate via body heat) from the stools, leaving behind solid stools that don't budge.
What you can do now is besides feeding him or her coconut oil regularly, try to add more water to your baby's meals. Coconut oil won't work without adequate consumption of water.
If he or she is on solid food, then make it more watery. This helps infants to consume more water for softening their stools and stimulating bowel movement.
At the same time, jostle up your baby's bowels with some simple exercises like gentle tummy massage and bicycle legs. Constipation can tighten the muscles around the abdomen and hips. So, these exercises will help your baby to stretch and relax, and loosen up his or her muscles around the abdomen and hips.
Find out next: How to choose the best virgin coconut oil for your baby »