Infant constipation is equally painful for babies and the parents. It can be a heart-wrenching experience to see your precious little struggle with discomfort and pain. If your baby has been having difficulty pooping, we are sure you must be looking for natural ways to combat the problem. One of the most popular home remedies is to use coconut oil for baby constipation. Let us know more on how to use, how much to use and what are the potential precautions and risks of using coconut oil for baby constipation.
But before that, what is really that causes poop troubles in babies?
What Causes Constipation In Babies?
Well, causes of constipation in babies have been linked to many factors, like formula feeding, for instance, if your baby is on formula, he does not get enough dietary fiber and medium-chain fatty acids- that help the bowels to soften and move. Formula fed babies also miss out on lauric acid, the naturally occurring saturated fatty acid in breast milk that again is good for the tummy. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of these healthy MCFAs and also contains lauric acid.
Additionally, when babies are introduced to solids, their i.e after rice eating ceremony, digestive system takes a back and they may have trouble pooping. Some foods too can be constipating in nature making your baby uncomfortable and cranky due to constipation. For example, apples can cause constipation in some babies.
Processed foods, like cheese and bread can also cause your baby to get constipated. There are a few foods that are well known to cause constipation in toddlers as well. As it is, processed foods carry no nutritional value and only burden the digestive system making it slower.
Dehydration can be another possible cause of constipation in babies older than 6 months. While till the age of 6 months breast and/or formula milk does keep a baby well-hydrated, after 6 months, when solids are introduced, it is imperative to make your baby have water as well.
Some other causes of constipation in babies include emotional stress, change in routine, and introduction of new foods and in rare cases, medical causes. Sometimes, breastfed babies get constipated too, especially if their mother has had something that may have triggered the digestive system to go slow.
If any of these underlying causes of baby constipation seem like what you are struggling with, then you can work on them to help your baby have regular bowel movements. Coconut oil is an excellent agent to soften and regularise your baby’s bowel movements, but you cannot go overboard with it and still need to exercise caution.
Related Reading: How And When To Use Apple Juice For Baby Constipation (Till 2 Years)
How To Use Coconut Oil For Baby Constipation?
You can use coconut oil to relieve your baby from constipation in 3 ways – giving it orally to your baby, using coconut oil to massage your baby’s abdomen and by including it in your diet if you are breastfeeding your infant. Let us discuss the 3 ways you can use coconut oil for baby constipation.
1. Feeding your baby coconut oil
First and foremost, if you are using coconut oil as an oral agent for your baby, make sure it is purely organic and of a reputed brand. That way the chances of exposing your baby to harmful chemical substances get negated.
Secondly, make sure that your baby tolerates the oil well. Most babies do, but if this is the first time you are using coconut oil for your baby, rub a little amount of the oil on your baby’s elbow and watch out for any allergic reactions for at least 12 hours.
Coconut oil dosage for constipation in infants
Now if you plan to feed coconut directly to your baby, you need to start slow, wait out and increase the dosage progressively. Use just a teaspoon the first time, either give it directly or mix it in your baby’s milk. You can even mix it in your baby’s food. Wait for a few hours to see if your baby has a bowel movement. As an additional measure, do offer your baby water as well.
If the baby does not pass stool, then give another teaspoon added to milk/meal or as it is. In any case, spread over a time period of 24 hours, do not give your baby more than 3-4 teaspoons of coconut oil for the first 5 days. If the baby tolerates it well, you may look at increasing it a bit by bit to get things moving, like perhaps to 6 teaspoons in a day. This is not a recommended dosage, but because each baby is different and while some may have a bowel movement with a dose or two, other babies may need more. Use your judgement to arrive on the right dosage of coconut oil for baby constipation. One smart thing to do is to always consult your doctor before attempting any home remedy to soften baby stool.
Do remember never to give your baby coconut oil directly from the bottle – always spread it in their meals or mix it in the milk. Feeding it directly could result in diarrhea like conditions.
2. Coconut oil tummy massage
Coconut oil massage to baby is highly recommended, it is also known to relieve baby constipation. Spread a little warm coconut oil on your palms and tips and make circular massage motions in a counter clockwise fashion closing in around the belly button. Most babies respond well to abdominal massage therapy and pass a bowel soon after it.
3. Coconut oil through breastmilk
If you do breastfeed your little one, you can yourself have some virgin coconut oil in your meals and the same will get passed to the baby. However, do take care that you do not consume large amounts of coconut oil as you could get diarrhea. Some breastfed babies may even like the taste of breastmilk with the coconut flavouring better!
What If The Baby Does Not Poop Even After Feeding Coconut Oil?
If none of the techniques of using coconut oil for baby constipation seem to be working for your baby, then you may need to modify your strategy a little. Though coconut oil is a gentle natural laxative, it does not really work without adequate intake of water. So make sure your little munchkin has enough water. You can make his food a little watery too, which can help soften the stool and make it move through the intestines.
Also make sure that your baby moves around- bicycle legs is one particularly helpful exercise. Tummy massages with warm coconut oil may help too. Exercising and moving around helps to loosen the abdominal muscles by stretching them making it easier for the stool move through the intestines.
Related Reading: How To Use Orange Juice For Baby Constipation (10 Months & Above)
Precautions to take when using coconut oil for infant constipation
Though coconut oil is a wonderful natural remedy for baby constipation, do keep these few things in mind when using it –
- Choose a branded virgin coconut oil only
- Do a patch test on your baby for any allergies
- Start slow and increase the quantity very little by little spread over a period of days
- Always give it with meals or mixed in milk – coconut oil can cause diarrhea if given on an empty stomach
- Be smart and do loop in your doctor’s views