“Safe.” I sort of dislike that word. Because really, the definition of safe and safety has soooooo dang much wiggle room both in the actual definition and in its interpretation.
The safety of using a specific product depends on so many factors including the actual person using it. So really, defining something as safe is, in my opinion, a bit arbitrary and a bit reckless. What I might be able to use without horrid repercussions might not be the best product for you.
See where I am going here?
Yeah – that’s right. I’m not answering the question “is coconut oil safe for babies and children?” Not directly anyway.
There is no way that I can say with 100% certainty if it is safe to give coconut oil to your baby or young child either internally or by applying it externally. But what I will share, is that typically, infants, babies and children of all ages really benefit from all the wonderful known benefits found in coconut oil.
Disclaimer time! I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I play one on this site so please do not take a single thing I write here to be bonafide medical advice. Whatever I share here is based on my personal experience, research, and possibly the experience of others. I am not making any medical claims. So take what I write and consult with your trusted practitioner before making any changes.
Is Coconut Oil Safe For Babies, Infants, and Children?
Can babies eat coconut oil? When someone asks me if it is “safe” to allow a baby to eat coconut oil off the spoon, my reply is “can your baby eat other foods off the spoon?” If the answer is yes, then most likely your baby can handle licking some coconut oil goodness off of a spoon. It has a very small choking hazard as it pretty much melts in your mouth. Although in cold climates when coconut oil is in a super solid-as-a-rock state, a mindful parent might want to offer it in very small amounts to lessen the risk of choking.
When I was a newly minted breastfeeding mother, I applied coconut oil liberally to my cracked nipples. My infant daughter, only a few days old, would obviously ingest some of the coconut oil that had not absorbed. She never had an issue and in fact, I credit all that early coconut oil with her oral health. Our dentist is really blown away by her teeth and gums (and trust me – it has NOTHING to do with my preconception or pregnancy diet. I wasn’t eating a real food diet like I do now). Sure, she grew up on real food and stays away from all the things that typically cause tooth decay, but her oral health transcends that. It really does. But I digress…
Anyway – unless you have a true coconut allergy that runs in your family (there is a difference between allergy and die off that coconut oil can cause) then chances are slim that your baby is allergic to coconut oil. But always proceed with caution the first time your baby consumes coconut oil, whether that be a wee amount during breastfeeding or a heaping spoonful as a snack.
If you are stumped for ways to use coconut oil on your infant or young children, check out 20 Ways To Use Coconut Oil on Infants and Children. It covers all the basics and then some!
How long as Tiny been “on the coconut oil?” Well, like I mentioned before, she was getting small amounts from breastfeeding but since I was consuming it, she was also getting it in my breast milk.
However, when Tiny was a wee one of about a year, I got her hooked on coconut oil. For her, grabbing a jar of coconut oil and eating it like ice cream was better than, well, eating ice cream out of the carton! Her brand of choice was Barlean’s and whenever she would see it in the store, she would hound me to make sure we had plenty at home! While she loves coconut oil in general, running out of the Barlean’s brand would send her into a funk. Seriously.
I remember the first time she tried Barlean’s brand of coconut oil. She was 2 ½ years old and they had sent me some jars to try and then review on this here blog! After Tiny took her first taste, she grab the other jars and hid them in the office “just in case” which was her way of declaring them HERS. Funny stuff. She was hooked on Barlean’s ever since.
Ok – off topic, sort of. I just had to share that story.
Anyway, the brand of coconut oil you give your infant or baby is less important than making sure you are only using unrefined coconut oil. This is also known as Virgin coconut oil. Unrefined coconut oil is in its purest form, free of any adulteration. It offers premium supportive health benefits which of course is what you want for your child right? And just because Tiny loves Barlean’s coconut oil, doesn’t mean that other brands do not taste wonderful. There are several brands I use and love but they all have little nuances in the flavor. You might have to try a few out to find the one your child obsesses over. 😉
So in a nutshell, coconut oil is considered to be extremely beneficial for people of all ages, infants and children included. Use common sense and keep an eye out for any physical reactions or behavioral changes. Typically, coconut oil will only do wonders for your wee ones!
When did you first give coconut oil to your children? What was his or her reaction?
Sources for this article include:
- Dr. Bruce Fife
- Strunk T, Pupala S, Hibbert J, Doherty D, Patole S. Topical Coconut Oil in Very Preterm Infants: An Open-Label Randomised Controlled Trial. Neonatology. 2018;113(2):146–151. doi:10.1159/000480538
- Arun S, Kumar M, Paul T, et al. An Open-label Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare Weight Gain of Very Low Birth Weight Babies with or without Addition of Coconut Oil to Breast Milk. J Trop Pediatr. 2019;65(1):63–70. doi:10.1093/tropej/fmy012
- BALLABRIGA A, SANZ S, ESCRIU JM. Coconut-oil-filledmilk in infant feeding. Helv Paediatr Acta. 1962;17:103–113.