Way before I had Henry, and back when I had time to do things like cook elaborate recipes, my OH bought me a brilliant Indian cookery book (Rick Stein’s India, if you’re interested). One of the recipes called for coconut oil, a product I’d never heard of but duly ordered from Waitrose so I could make Prawn Molee (so good!), but other than that, it pretty much languished, gathering dust and undisturbed, at the back of my pantry.
Slowly, this wonderful stuff has seeped into every corner of my life. When I ran out of my favourite Dr Hauschka Rose Day Cream last year and couldn’t find it easily here in France? Coconut oil. It’s also stepped in as a body moisturiser, hair mask, massage oil, shaving oil and toothpaste. I have it in my nightly cup of golden milk, mix it into homemade apricot caramels and chocolate hazelnut spread, and I even took a jar of the stuff into hospital with me when I had Noah, to use instead of both nipple balm and nappy rash cream. It even has an SPF of 6-8, and whilst I would never advocate using it in place of a good (organic) sunscreen, it is good to know it is also helping to keep wrinkles and sun damage at bay. Noah suffers from acid reflux (I plan to go into more detail about this and the natural remedies we’ve employed to try and combat it in another post) so I’ve cut out dairy to try and ease his symptoms, and coconut oil is a great butter substitute in baking and cooking.
I love that it is a completely natural, often organic product, that is completely safe for Henry, Noah and me. You can even buy a flavourless, odourless coconut oil, if you don’t enjoy the taste/smell. Here are some of my favourite ways to use coconut oil:
Babies & Children:
- Nappy Rash Balm – I like to smear a tiny bit of coconut oil on Noah’s bottom after each nappy change, and have been doing so from birth. I love that coconut oil is such a natural, pure product, and, so far, Noah hasn’t suffered from nappy rash.
- Nipple Balm – Cheaper than Lansinoh and completely natural, coconut oil makes a great nipple balm. I’ve been using a little during cluster feeds and particularly hot days when Noah nurses more frequently. You also don’t need to wipe it off before breastfeeding.
- Moisturiser – Great for creaming babies’ creases, I rub a little into Noah’s leg, ankle and arm creases after bath time (I love those newborn baby rolls). Henry suffers from slight eczema and I’ve seen an improvement since we started using coconut oil on his skin.
- Massage Oil – When in the throes of post-natal depression with Henry, my wonderful health visitor would come over to our house once a week to teach me baby massage. It has been proven to help foster a strong bond between mother and baby, and can help to alleviate symptoms of PND. I love taking the time to massage Noah after his bath, and still massage Henry occasionally (we used massage a lot in the evenings when Henry first started school). Over the years we’ve used olive, sweet almond, jojoba and macerated calendula oil, but right now we’re using coconut oil (Henry loves that he can scrape it out of the jar and warm it in his hands to melt it).
- Cradle Cap Balm – Both my boys have suffered from cradle cap. Massaging a little coconut oil into Noah’s scalp has definitely helped.
- Natural Moisturiser – I’ve used sweet almond, calendula and jojoba oils on my face, but odourless coconut oil is my favourite. You only need a tiny bit, It sinks in quickly so your skin isn’t greasy, and really moisturises. I like to add in a few drops of organic rose essential oil as it smells so good and has anti-aging properties. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but quickly melts if you scoop out a little and warm it between your hands.
- Hair Mask – Slather it on to your hair and leave for as long as possible before washing – I like to do this in the morning when I know I’m going to be at home all day, before washing my hair in the evening. Top tips: apply the oil to the ends of your hair only, and shampoo before getting in the bath or shower (ie. when your hair is dry) then rinse and repeat. I love this so much that I rarely buy hair conditioner.
- Body Oil – I love using coconut oil on my body after bathing. It is super-rich, so it is wonderful on typically dry areas such as knees, elbows and heels.
- Shaving Oil – I like to rub a tiny amount on to my legs before shaving, instead of a standard shaving foam or oil. It is so moisturising that if I don’t have time to moisturise (and with two children I barely have time to shower these days) my legs don’t feel dry afterwards.
- Oil Pulling – Have you heard of this? Try swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, before spitting it out (in the bin, not the sink). I tend to do this whilst getting ready in the morning before the boys wake, or on an early morning dog walk (on our land, so as not to alarm the neighbours). Oil pulling is said to prevent cavities, bleeding gums, bad breath, and more. I follow this by brushing my teeth with toothpaste.
- Wound Salve – Coconut oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and the lauric acid coconut oil contains can help to speed healing of cuts, rashes and burns. So useful when you have an energetic pre-schooler, and as a huge bonus, it doesn’t sting!
- Since giving up dairy due to Noah’s acid reflux, I’ve really embraced coconut oil in the kitchen. It makes an excellent butter replacement; you can spread it on toast and use it in baking; just chill the oil to solidify if needed, and replace butter with the same amount of coconut oil.
- My OH doesn’t eat wheat, I’m not currently consuming dairy, and I’m constantly trying to find ways to reduce the amount of sugar in our family’s diet. There’s a wealth of healthy, natural real food recipes out there that utilise coconut oil, along with lots of other good stuff. Just recently, we’ve been making Hemsley & Hemsley’s Salted Apricot Caramels and Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (basically healthy Nutella) from River Cottage’s (wheat and dairy-free) Light and Easy book.
What are your favourite ways to use this magical stuff?!
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