How to relieve constipation for babies with coconut oil

Baby having constipation

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.

Note: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.

Note: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 »

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30 chats on “How to relieve constipation for babies with coconut oil

    • Hi Crystal, coconut oil is definitely good for infants since it carries lauric acid which can protect your baby against harmful microbes during his or her growth.

      Lauric acid is also naturally present in human breast milk. So, if human breast milk can benefit infants, so can coconut oil.

      However, please consult a pediatrician or GP first before using coconut oil on your 9-month-old as I do not know why he or she is having a hard time moving bowels. It may be something else that's causing his or her bowel problem rather than just a common constipation that can simply be fixed with coconut oil. Better be safe than be sorry.

      Once your pediatrician or GP nods his or her head, you can begin with a teaspoon of coconut oil added to the food and feed your baby and check his or her reaction just to make sure he or she doesn't get the runs too frequently. Buy the brand I'm using – Nutiva because a crappy brand can do more harm than good.

    • Hi Jaylene, don't rush and start giving a tablespoon of coconut oil or more. It'll cause great discomfort when she experiences stomach cramp. Start her off with 1/2 teaspoon of virgin coconut oil first and build up the amount from there. Follow the instructions under Step 3 (above).

      And yes, you can mix the oil into her milk. You can also add coconut oil to fruit juice if you happen to feed her that. Coconut oil is versatile.

      One thing worth mentioning is, many infants do not drink adequate amount of water. Coconut oil helps to gather water to soften the stool. So, if water intake is not enough, she might have problem relieving her constipation. Remember to let her drink enough water.

      At 2 years old, her abdominal muscles are weak and she's not able to push the stool out. So, adequate water intake is crucial for her to have an effective constipation relief.

  1. I tried giving my 6 month 3 weeks old baby 2.5ml virgin coconut oil in his milk this morning and it helped a lot in softening his stool. How many days should I give him virgin coconut oil? How can I encourage my baby to drink more water? Thank you!

    • Hi Julie, instead of treating virgin coconut oil as a constipation relief, why don't you give it to your little baby every day to keep him healthy and safe from germs? 2.5 ml is a good amount to start with for a 6-month-old.

      To get him to drink more water, just add a little more water to his milk. That's the easiest way I can think of.

      If you're beginning to give him solid food, make the food more runny by adding a bit more water. This not only makes it easier for him to swallow but also offers him more opportunity to consume more water.

      • Do I need to increase the volume of virgin coconut oil as he grows older? Yes, he is already starting to eat solid foods. Thank you for your suggestions.

        • Hi Julie, yes, you should raise his virgin coconut oil intake as he grows older. But do it gradually and progressively and not shoot up to 15 ml per day all of a sudden.

          For example, when he turns 9 months old and you think it's time to feed him more virgin coconut oil, then apart from the morning 2.5 ml, you can also mix another 2.5 ml in his lunch. That way he'll have 5 ml altogether for the day.

          Make the transition seamless and smooth for him so that virgin coconut oil will become a staple in his diet.

      • Is it safe to give coconut oil to a 4 month 1 week old baby? I have heard it can help with reflux. We’re looking for some natural treatment. Thanks

        • Hi Harry, coconut oil does help with acid reflux as it makes you want to eat lesser food. Less food in stomach means less acid, and hence, fewer chances of acid reflux.

          Pick a meal (e.g. breakfast) and mix half teaspoon (2.5 ml) of organic virgin coconut oil into your baby's food. And keep to that 2.5 ml amount per day for the first 5 days.

          Don't try adding 2.5 ml to each of his/her meal at this moment as his/her body is undergoing development and may not be able to sustain the potent detox effect of coconut oil. Observe for any peculiar reactions.

          If your baby looks good with the coconut oil for that 5 days, then you might want to consider adding another 2.5 ml to his/her lunch (for example) so that he/she has a total intake of 5 ml per day.

          Keep in mind to add coconut oil gradually to his/her meals even if he/she adapts very well to it. Don't rush. Your baby's safety MUST always come first.

    • Hi Viola, first, let me get this correct. You've done the warm bath baby tummy massage, right? She's still constipated.

      In my opinion, I'm afraid she's too young to be fed coconut oil for constipation. She probably just needs to drink a bit more water to get her bowels to move. Anyway, please bring her to a pediatrician and seek advice.

  2. Hi is MCT oil or coconut oil more effective for constipation. My two year old withhold her bowel. I have coconut oil and it worked for 4 days. Then on the fifth day it stopped working. I switched to MCT oil and it hasn’t made her go. I do not know which one to try again. Please help

    • Hi Linda, just returned from a trip, sorry for not able to respond immediately.

      MCT oil should work more effectively since its contents are all medium-chain triglycerides. That's why the name MCT.

      She could have been accustomed to the effect of coconut oil after 4 days of intake. Coconut oil contains MCT as well, that's why it seems MCT oil does not work much for her.

      How much coconut oil did you give her? If it's only one tablespoon per day, increase to 2 or even 3 tablespoons, but spread out the amount and mix into her food. Try not to feed her on empty stomach because the stomach cramp might be too strong for her.

      Don't forget to encourage her to drink more water. Coconut oil fails to work effectively if her water intake is too low.

      I would suggest you to continue with coconut oil rather than MCT oil. Coconut oil provides her with stronger protection against viruses, bacteria and other harmful germs. Which is what she needs the most right now for her to develop healthily.

      • Thanks for responding! I gave her less than a teaspoon once a day and it worked for those four days. It stopped working so I switched to the MCT oil. I gave her 1 teaspoonful of that twice a day but she is still withholding her stool. It’s hard for me to get her to take the coconut oil because there’s a strong smell. I’ll try to up her coconut oil intake to 1 tablespoon and see what happens. Thanks

        • Hi Linda, one teaspoon... I see. It's definitely not enough for long-term relief on constipation, even 2 teaspoons a day.

          Did you feed her directly out of the jar? If yes, try mixing coconut oil into her food.

          If she still doesn't like it that way, then you might want to try getting RBD coconut oil instead. It provides as much health benefits as virgin coconut oil, but it doesn't have the natural coconut odor. RBD stands for "refined, bleached and deodorized".

          Withholding bowel can cause more fluid in the gut to get absorbed into the body, leading to dry and hardened stool. Do encourage her to drink more water to compensate for the loss of fluid in the stool.

          Coconut oil helps to draw fluid to help soften the stool. If her gut is dry, coconut oil won't be able to help much.

    • Hi Heather, sorry to keep you waiting. Just returned from a short trip.

      Not necessary. Coconut oil turns solid at temperatures below 76 °F (24 °C).

      If your food is warm, just dump the hardened oil onto it and let the heat from the food melt it down.

      Just make sure to stir and mix coconut oil well into the food.

  3. Hi I have a 2 week old son he is struggling poop and he suffers from stomach cramps he cries when he has to poop. Sometimes he pushes n nothing comes out sometimes when it comes out its too hard and small. Can I use the coconut oil on him and how? Please help he is really in pain I'm not breast feeding him I'm changed formulas twice now.

    • Hi Riri, infants tend to have a pretty much slower bowel, especially formula-fed infants.

      A slow bowel leads to more water being absorbed via intestines into the body. This in turn causes little fluid retention in his gut for a smooth bowel movement. Hard stool is the result.

      I suggest that you consult a certified pediatrician to see if you can increase your baby's water intake and how much he should drink per day. And also, ask the specialist whether you can use coconut oil on your baby for constipation relief.

      Once you've decided to use coconut oil based on the medical advice given, then follow steps 1 to 3 in the article above.

      Keep in mind that coconut oil won't work if your baby does not drink enough water for his age.

  4. Hi Soon! My now 3 month old + 1 week was exclusively breastfeed until he was exactly 3 months. He and I shared many tears putting him on formula, but he couldn't handle my milk. I cut out dairy, soy, Coffee, and just about EVERYTHING else from week 1 and he was still miserable . I tried him on Allimentum formula and he ended up having 2 days of HELL. We switched him to Soy for sensitive tummies and the first few days were amazing, but now he's been constipated. He poops everyday, but it's normally only once and he really strains to get it out. If he poops again during the day it's normally hard pebbles.
    I'm thinking about trying coconut oil. What are your thoughts?
    I'd also love your opinion about trying breast milk again since I have a freezer full.

    • Hi Olivia, coconut oil is good for all ages. It's a "soft" food after all.

      It's actually quite normal for infants to get constipated since their bowels are still pretty sluggish. A sluggish bowel allows stool to stay longer that in turn gives more time for the intestinal cells to absorb more fluid from the watery waste. By the time the stool reaches the rectum, it has dried up. This explains the hard pebbles your son is excreting.

      If you wish to try coconut oil on him, follow the 3 steps as outlined above. But how far coconut oil will do for him will be up to his system, since he is still developing. Coconut oil is more effective in relieving constipation on a fully-developed body.

      Breast milk is the best food for babies, even up to 2 years old. It contains a good amount of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), like those in coconut oil, to help protect babies against super germs and help them grow faster. So, why not?

      And I suggest that you take coconut oil too, so that you can produce more MCFAs in your milk. Find out how to choose a quality coconut oil if you need to.

      Learn how to use coconut oil correctly too. Unpleasant "side effects" may occur from using coconut oil in the "wrong" way.

  5. Hi Soon! I have 5 month old baby, can I use coconut oil in her formula and in her soft porridge in morning time? My baby have problem in stomach she use excreting bad excreta with black thing look like worm and can coconut oil help her immune system well and get fine please help me. I want my baby to prevent in this bad diseases.

  6. Hello Soon Chai
    I was told by my pediatrician to start our daughter on coconut oil with almond milk but getting distracted talking about things for our daughter I can’t remember the dosage
    She said and she out the office for a few weeks. My daughter is 16 months old should I just try 1/2 tsp per 8 oz? Also do I just melt the oil then add it to her milk?
    Thank you

    • Hi Chethana, she's been constipated for 15 days already, so it's best to bring her to a pediatrician now.

      At this point, I wouldn't suggest to feed her coconut oil directly. However, you can take coconut oil so that your breast milk will produce more MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) for her. She'd be taking coconut oil through you. And I think this is much safer and better for a 1 month+ old baby.