Are you looking for a natural way to boost your child’s weight? Find out if virgin coconut oil is a safe way for baby to put on some pounds. One pediatrician weighs in on the topic.
What can you read in this article?
- How can I tell if my baby is underweight?
- Virgin coconut oil for baby’s weight gain – is it safe?
- The downside of giving virgin coconut oil to your baby
As parents, our primary goal is to make sure that our child is growing up safe, healthy and strong. And when it comes to things related to their health, we want to exhaust all ways and solutions to make sure they are meeting the standards and hitting their milestones.
One of the biggest issues about children’s health is gaining weight. Gaining the ideal amount of weight each month is an indicator that our kid is growing well – that his nutrition is in order and that we are on the right path to good health.
So we help our child gain weight by making sure he eats well, gets enough rest and we give him supplements to help with his gain weight. One of the natural ways to make babies gain weight is by supplementing his diet with virgin coconut oil.
But before we get into this topic, you need to ask this question first – is my baby underweight?
Is your baby gaining enough weight?
How will you know if your baby is not gaining enough weight?
According to Healthline, a child is considered underweight for his age if his weight is in the 5th percentile or lower of the weight-for-age measurement in the standard growth chart published by the World Health Organization.
Another thing to consider is that babies’ weight usually goes up and down from the moment he is born.
For example, a few days after their birth, their weight decreases by 3 to 4 percent for formula-fed babies and 6 to 7 percent for breastfed babies. However, they will regain the pounds they lost within two weeks and keep gaining per week, only to slow down after the third month.
What are some of the factors affecting weight gain?
There are so many factors that can affect a child’s weight. One of these is your genes.
If the parents are small, there’s a big possibility that your child will also be small, thus weighing less than other kids his age. But this factor usually shows up later in a child’s life.
For the first few months, your child’s weight will always be connected to his birth weight.
Related to this, another factor that affects your child’s weight gain is if he was born premature (or a preemie) or a product of multiple births.
The milk that he takes is also a factor in weight gain. Research showed that infants who drank formula milk tend to grow bigger than breastfed babies.
However, this does not mean that babies should switch to formula to increase their weight. Breastfed babies and formula-fed babies follow different growth charts.
While it’s normal for babies’ weight gain to fluctuate within the first few months, you should still alert your pediatrician when you notice it because it can be a symptom of a health problem.
If you’ve established that your baby is underweight, you can try different ways to help him gain weight – one method that has been proven effective is giving virgin coconut oil to babies.
Virgin coconut oil for baby – is it safe?
Image from Freepik
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is an edible oil that was derived from the milk of fresh and matured coconut, a tropical plant that belong to the palm family. Here in the Philippines, we have a huge supply of VCO because of the abundance of coconut trees.
VCO is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) which means it can be easily digested in the body and is edible.
Some of the popular uses of virgin coconut oil are for cooking, bakery, confectionary, infant foods, and cosmetics.
Virgin coconut oil is rich in nutritional value including antiviral, antibacterial, antiplaque, antiprotozoal, healing, anti‐inflammatory, and anti‐obesity effects.
However, a study published by the Philippine Children’s Medical Center revealed that infants receiving VCO-supplemented milk feeding had statistically significant weight gain compared to those given nonfortified milk.
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Virgin coconut oil for baby – does it really help in weight gain?
Several studies have proven the efficacy of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) as good source of calories among preterm infants, but such a product is not yet available in the market.
However, there is one natural product that has the most concentrated content of MCTs in the market – virgin coconut oil.
The study which was conducted in 2018 concluded that Virgin coconut oil is effective in augmenting weight gain among very low birthweight preterm infants.
Image from Freepik
Some parents of preemies also shared that their babies’ doctors advised them to supplement their child’s milk and food with virgin coconut oil to help their child gain weight.
We also asked Dr. Barbara Ann Ejercito-Manio, a pediatrician at Asian Hospital and Medical Center to weigh in on this natural weight gain method. She confirmed that giving VCO as an added supplement to food and milk can really boost weight gain for children.
Dr. Manio shares that this method is recommended for undernourished babies. However, she stressed that this should only be done with the doctor’s advice and guidance.
The downside of giving VCO to your baby
According to Dr. Manio, giving virgin coconut oil to supplement baby’s food and drink should only start when the child has started with complementary feeding (when your baby has started eating solids).
Adding VCO to your baby’s diet should be done in small amounts and gradually increasing. Giving your child more than the required amount of VCO can lead to an unwanted and potentially harmful side effect – diarrhea and stomach distress.
“The bigger amount of virgin coconut oil, the higher chance of diarrhea,” said Dr. Manio.
She reminds parents to balance giving this fatty acid to babies, and sticking only with the amount of VCO their tummies could take.
“For instance, nagstart ka magbigay kay baby ng VCO ng 1 mL, then 2 mL, then 3 mL. Tapos sa 3 mL nagtae siya, you have to go back to 2 mL.” she added.
Virgin coconut oil for baby – what parents need to know
Image from iStock
Diarrhea often leads to dehydration, which can be very harmful especially in young children.
So before you think about giving virgin coconut oil to your baby, here’s Dr. Manio’s final reminder.
“Akala nila pwedeng ibigay lahat, basta undernourished, pwedeng bigyan (ng VCO). Pero malaki yung chances ng diarrhea kapag hindi tama yung amount na binigay mo. Kapag nag-diarrhea, mas malaki pa ‘yung losses kaysa sa intake niya so hindi rin maganda kung hindi ka marunong gumamit.”
To make sure your child will not suffer any unwanted side effects, consult your pediatrician first about giving your child VCO and let her guide you on the proper way and dosages.
Before you decide to give virgin coconut oil to boost your baby’s weight, you can also try other natural methods like adding more healthy fat and calories in his food and making sure he’s drinking enough milk.
Finally, you need to remember that weight is not the only measure of good health, especially for babies. If your child is still on the skinny side but continues to gain weight every checkup and rarely gets sick, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Healthline, US National Library of Medicine, WebMD, PCMC Journal
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