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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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The Many Awe-Inspiring Uses of Coconut Oil

If you’ve spent any time at all around the cloth diapering community, you’ve probably heard great and wonderful things about coconut oil. It’s the best diaper rash cream ever! It performs miracles! It’s the only thing you’ll ever need! Moms swear by it. It’s the only thing they will ever use on their children. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread! It’s the best thing you’ll ever try! It’s wonderful! Fantastic! Useful for so many different things, no one can even name them all!

If you’re like a lot of moms, you’re probably skeptical about many of these claims. Sure, it’s amazing. Sounds great. But is it really worth the $12 you’re going to spend on that first jar, just to see if it’s going to work? You’ve tried miracle solutions before. Sometimes, they’ve worked better than others…and much of the time, they’ve flopped completely. (This is the point at which you start to embrace the mantra that all babies are different, and what works for one mom one time won’t necessarily work for the next one.)

The truth is, coconut oil is an awesome, cloth-safe rash solution. It’s soothing and moisturizing to sore skin, and it’s naturally antibacterial, so it’s great for treating rashes of all types. It’s relatively inexpensive (especially considering the usual price of diaper rash cream), so using it at every diaper change as a rash preventative is realistic. It’s also non-medicated, so while it’s an excellent solution, it’s probably not the best one to use for a severe rash. Several diaper manufacturers (bumGenius, in particular) also require you to use a liner any time you use anything but a baby bum in your diapers in order to avoid voiding the warranty, so while coconut oil is wonderful, it’s not for everyone (or even every rash).

If you are going to be using coconut oil, particularly in the colder months when it will stay solid, consider whipping it in your stand mixer for a little while. This will make it easier to use and make it stretch a little bit further.

Coconut oil does also have a lot of other uses. It can replace the butter or margarine in your favorite cookie recipe or the vegetable or olive oil in almost any recipe. It makes a great spread on toast, too, especially if you’re trying to add healthy fats to your diet. It’s still high fat; but it’s healthy fat, so at least you’re not completely breaking your diet to have another cookie. Breastfeeding? Well, that cookie’s for the baby anyway. Baby needs there to be healthy fat in your milk, right?

In addition to being great to cook with (please, please keep your cooking coconut oil separate from your diapering coconut oil. Please?), coconut oil is also a great facial moisturizer. If you don’t want it too thick, try the above mentioned whipping trick—it will make it easier to spread out over a greater distance and make it melt faster, since it’s less dense. (You might want to keep this one separate from your diaper rash cream, too. Just saying…) It makes a decent lip gloss if you’re in a hurry. Using it in the shower to shave your legs also results in nice, smooth legs; but I don’t recommend using it too often if your drain is prone to clogging easily. If you’re breastfeeding, it makes a great soothing nipple cream, especially with a few drops of Vitamin E oil added. In short, it’s wonderful and soothing for all of your skin care uses. (Sounds like an infomercial, doesn’t it? “Replace all of your skin care products with this single jar!”)

It’s not a miracle substance. It won’t necessarily work for every rash that your baby ever has, or for every skin care solution you ever need. If you have super oily skin, you probably won’t want to use it as a moisturizer, either—but if it doesn’t work for you as a diaper rash cream, you’ll probably be able to find a way to use up the rest of the jar. At least it won’t be a complete waste…you know, like those other half-tubes of baby products that you’ve shoved up in the top of the closet after deciding that they didn’t work and you never wanted to use them again.

*Note—if you’re buying coconut oil, virgin unrefined is best for skincare uses.

By Emily

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