6 Possible Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Kids

check_icon Research-backed

Coconut oil is commonly used for cooking, skin moisturization, and hair oiling in tropical regions. Even research shows that consuming coconut oil is beneficial for children (1). If you want to try coconut oil for kids, use it in small amounts if they have not had it earlier.

But before feeding coconut oil to your little one, consult a pediatrician if your child has a family history of coconut allergy or is allergic to tree nuts such as hazelnuts. Read on as we tell your more about the possible benefits of coconut oil for children and the side effects it may cause.

In This Article

Is Coconut Oil Healthy To Use For Children?

Coconut oil is considered a good moisturizer for hair and skin

Image: Shutterstock

The uses of coconut oil are either topical or dietary. There are conflicting views on the dietary use of coconut oil. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, coconut oil is known to contain 80 to 90% of saturated fat (2) (3). It is slow to oxidize and has antioxidant properties.

However, according to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the unique fatty acid composition of coconut oil does not seem to increase the risk of heart disease (4). The American Academy of Pediatrics counts coconut oil as a healthy fat and suggests adding it to a child’s diet for optimum nutrition (5). The academy’s suggestion may indicate that moderate consumption of coconut oil could be healthy for children.

The topical use of coconut oil seems to offer some benefits. The oil is considered a good moisturizer for hair and skin (2). It is rich in antibacterial agents such as vitamin E and contains trace amounts of iron, calcium, and zinc. Thus, increases the child’s immunity development and promotes the immune system. A few fatty acids found in coconut oil may have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties (4). It contains omega-6 fatty acids but no omega-3 fatty acids.

protip_icon Quick tip
Use 25% less coconut oil when substituting for butter considering coconut oil has a higher percentage of fat solids (2).

What Are The Likely Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Children?

Coconut oil has been found to have the below uses.

  1. Dental hygiene: Dr. Darmin Brady, a researcher at Microbiology Society, suggests using ‘enzyme-modified coconut oil’ into dental hygiene products as an alternative to chemical additives. Coconut oil could be a natural alternative to fight the bacteria that causes tooth decay (6). According to a recent WHO report, an alarming 514 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth. Parents could consider rubbing a few drops of coconut oil on their children’s teeth to address this issue, which might help improve oral health alongside regular dental care practices.
protip_icon Research finds
Studies show coconut oil helps fight oral bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans. It also lessens the risk of plaque-induced gingivitis (12).
  1. Moisturizer: Skin issues such as eczema require regular moisturization. It is important to keep the skin moist in case of eczema. Coconut oil could work as a moisturizer to provide relief (7) (8).
  1. Insect repellant: According to a research study, coconut oil includes fatty acids that work as a repellent to keep mosquitoes and flies away (9).
  1. Hair health: Coconut oil could help moisturize the scalp, just like the skin. Research suggests that the oil may be used for reducing hair lice (3).
  1. Skin health: Coconut oil has antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties that could provide relief for acne, wounds, or injuries on the skin (10). Massaging the baby’s body with coconut oil is beneficial as it possesses anti-inflammatory properties. You may gently apply a few drops of coconut oil on the area of the wound, rash, or injury. It helps in the healing process.

Donna Joseph, a mother, shares her experience using coconut oil for her baby’s dry skin. She explains, “My son was born with really dry skin. When he was about six months old, it started to become a problem because he got irritable with his skin. My sister-in-law got in touch with me and said I should use coconut oil. I started using coconut oil all over his skin. I’m so grateful for the tip that she told me. She said, ‘Don’t stop using it, even though it might not be working straight away. Don’t stop using it.’ Within about six to eight months, I was able to stop using so much coconut oil, and my son’s skin started to heal (i).”

  1. Brain and heart health: The fatty acids in coconut oil may be beneficial to the heart and brain function (1) (2). According to studies, consuming virgin coconut oil could enhance cognitive abilities such as memory and focus.
  1. Coconut oil that contains medium-chain triglycerides is quickly absorbed by the body to be used as energy, thereby promoting satiety and preventing fat storage (2).
The coconut oil can improve the heart health

Image: Shutterstock

Do not use coconut oil as a replacement for a doctor’s advice or prescribed medication. Ask your child’s doctor or a pediatric nutritionist for the quantity of dietary coconut oil your child can take.

Are There Any Possible Side Effects Of Coconut Oil For Children?

There are no significant side effects of coconut oil for children. However, some of the rare ones include:

  • Some children who are allergic to tree nuts and peanuts might be allergic to coconut as well (11).
  • Children who are overweight or have high cholesterol may consider avoiding coconut oil due to the oil’s cholesterol levels.
Overweight kids should consider avoiding coconut oil

Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much virgin coconut oil should a child take daily?

A child may take one or two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil daily. However, it might depend on the child’s weight and health and it is always best to consult a pediatrician before administering it.

2. Can we drink coconut oil straight?

Coconut oil has 100% fats, with 80-90% saturated fats, and too much of it can increase the blood cholesterol level (2). Therefore it is not advisable to consume coconut oil directly; instead, mix it with food.

3. How do I get my child to eat coconut oil?

You can add the coconut oil in small amounts to cook the food. Alternatively, you may add oil to dishes, such as oatmeal and smoothies. Remember, a child takes time to develop a taste for food. So, be patient and let your child get used to the taste of coconut oil gradually. Also, you can encourage your child to eat coconut oil by eating coconut yourselves and setting the right example.

Coconut oil for kids has several benefits. It is known to help grow hair faster or denser and has other benefits. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove most of its assertions, including that it darkens or lightens the skin and helps hair growth. When consumed in moderation and used as guided, pure coconut oil can benefit a child. But if you are doubtful about its use, you must consult the baby’s doctor. Ensure to inform a doctor about any symptom you see post its usage, such as a skin rash or inflammation.

Infographic: Positive And Negative Effect Of Coconut Oil On Children

In addition to being used in cooking, coconut oil can be applied topically and in various herbal medicines. However, it may also have some side effects. Check out the infographic below to learn about some benefits and side effects of using coconut oil for children.

potential benefits and risks of coconut oil for children (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Coconut oil has high levels of saturated fat with antioxidant properties.
  • It can prevent tooth decay in children, making it a natural remedy for oral health.
  • Coconut oil is highly beneficial for the skin and hair health of kids.
  • Children with allergies and high cholesterol levels should avoid consuming coconut oil.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. N. Mikolajczak, Coconut Oil in Human Diet – Nutritional Value And Potential Health Benefits; Journal of Education, Health and Sport (2017)
2. Coconut oil; Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
3. Coconut oil; Nutritionfacts.org
4. Health Benefits of Coconut Oil; Pennington Biomedical Research Center (2013)
5. Preschooler’s Diet Shouldn’t Be Fat-Free: Here’s Why; healthychildren.org
6. Coconut Oil Could Combat Tooth Decay; Microbiology Society (2012)
7. So What Exactly Is Eczema?; Texas Children’s Hospital (2017)
8. M. T. Evangelista et al., The effect of topical virgin coconut oil on SCORAD index, transepidermal water loss, and skin capacitance in mild to moderate pediatric atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, clinical trial; International Journal of Dermatology (2014)
9. J. J. Zhu et al.; Better than DEET Repellent Compounds Derived from Coconut Oil; Scientific Reports (2018)
10. A. Gupta et al.; Coconut Oil: The Healthiest Oil On Earth; International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (2010)
11. L. M. Stutius et al.;Characterizing the Relationship Between Sesame, Coconut, and Nut Allergy in Children; Pediatric Allergy and Immunology (2010)
12. Faizal C Peedikayil;Is coconut oil good for oral health? A review; Journal of Health Research and Reviews (2019)

Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.