The health benefits of olive oil are well known, but do they relate to babies as well? This oil is considered a natural product and parents often want to know two things:
- Can you feed a baby olive oil?
- Can you massage a baby with olive oil?
Can I Give My Baby Olive Oil?
Answer: Yes, from 6 Months.
If you want to add olive oil to your baby food recipes, or if you want to feed it to your child, it is always best to stick with extra-virgin olive oil.
What Is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is taken by pressing the olive to extract the natural oils. Extra virgin olive oil is taken from the first press of the olives in the extraction process. Heat is not used in this process, and no chemical processing takes place either. This is why extra-virgin varieties are the healthiest type to use, as all the original nutrients are still intact.
Other types of olive oil, including pure or refined, will have gone through some type of processing, which removes the nutritional value. Light ones may contain other vegetable oils with it, and are not 100% pure olive oil.
Nutritional Value of Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in calories. It contains monounsaturated fats; these are the fats that help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Olive oil also contains fatty acids, which can also be found in breast milk and help your child grow and develop. (Note for moms: olive oil can also help you retain bone mass.)
It also contains vitamins A, C, D, E and K, plus many B vitamins. It is a rich source of anti-oxidants, which help prevent heart disease and cancer. These anti-oxidants are more prevalent in extra-virgin olive oil. The oleic acid in olive oil, which is also found in breast milk, helps your child’s brain grow and develop. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent or limit the severity of asthma.
Olive oil also contains poly phenols that are vital amino acids. They aid the body in repairing damaged cells and necessary for a healthy cardio-vascular system
In fact, some parts of the world believe that it has health-promoting benefits. Diaper rash and cradle cap also respond to extra virgin olive oil. Be careful applying olive oil to broken or sensitive skin and consult your doctor first.
Tips On Including Olive Oil In Your Child’s Diet
If you want to add olive oil to your baby food recipes, or if you want to feed it to your child, it is always best to stick with extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO). Keep in mind, though, that while olive oil is healthy, consuming too much of it may cause your child to have diarrhea. If you are adding it to your child’s food, you should not use more than ¼ tsp. for a 2 ounce serving of food.
It can be used in place of less healthy cooking oils. Instead of buttering bread, drizzle a little olive oil over it. You can also drizzle it over cooked vegetables or blend with other vegetables you plan on pureeing. You can even stir some into mashed potatoes! There are many options on how to include olive oil in your child’s diet. Bear in mind that children may find the taste too strong. There are a number of children’s olive oils on the market which have a milder flavor and lower acidity levels so it is easier for children to digest
Allergies are Rare
Olive oil rarely causes allergic reactions, but like with any other food, it is recommended to be given to him or her for the first time paired with a food you already know they can handle. This way, if your child does have an allergic reaction, you know that olive oil was the culprit.
Olive Oil Is Not For Constipation
If you’re worried over your baby’s bowel movement you are not alone. Breast fed babies can have a bowel movement from every time they nurse to 10 days. This is a big window for a worried parent to be told “it’s normal”. Formula fed babies can also skip a few days without a bowel movement without parents worrying.
Babies who are exclusively breast fed are rarely constipated. Breast milk has the perfect balance of fat an protein so stools should usually be soft. It is not uncommon for your baby to go for a few days without passing a stool. For babies on formula, if you suspect your baby is constipated consult your doctor and discuss changing brands. Be aware that when you do change there may be a transition period where your baby’s bowel movement routine is disrupted.
Reasons babies may be constipated:
- Introduction of solids
- Change of formula brand
- Dehydration – make sure you are getting plenty of fluids if you are breast feeding
- Medical condition or illness (uncommon)
You will recognize constipation if your baby is straining, in discomfort or if the stools are regularly hard and dry.
Do not give your baby olive oil for constipation.
Olive oil is very gentle on your child’s stomach and you will probably have heard it is an old fashioned laxative. Consuming too much will certainly cause diarrhea, but you should not use it as a home remedy for constipation. There are plenty of other safe remedies to help cure this.
Baby Massage With Olive Oil
Lots of parents around the world use olive oil to massage their babies with no problems at all. Baby massage is proven to help your baby relax, reduce crying and affect hormones that control stress in an infant. If you would like to know more about the benefits of baby massage check out the website for the mayoclinic.com.
There are a number of different oils you can use to massage your baby’s skin, and olive oil is one of them. Because there is no confirmed testing as to the benefits or hazards of olive oil on an infants skin, here are some details to help you decide for yourself.
Olive oil is low in linoleic acid and high in oleic acid. Both of these are fatty acids. Linoleic acid can strengthen your baby’s skin barrier. Oleic acid, on the other hand, can make some layers of your baby’s skin more permeable. When your baby’s skin is more permeable it could mean oil and water are more readily absorbed into your baby’s skin. But permeability means the movement of moisture works both ways.
This means that if your baby’s skin is damaged, for example through eczema, the oleic acid can possibly increase moisture loss through your baby’s skin. This could potentially make the eczema worse.
There are arguments that oleic acid is harmful to healthy skin and others which argue that there is no harm done. Olive oil is commonly used by many people on their skin and it is also routinely found in adult skin care products such as moisturizers and cosmetics.
There is very little research into whether olive oil can harm your baby’s skin. There are also very few cases of people being adversely affected by olive oil applied to their skin. If you are worried or have a family history of skin disorders, be careful about what you put onto your baby’s skin. There are baby mineral oils, high in linoleic acid, which may be a better choice for your child’s sensitive skin.
Remember, olive oil is healthy for your baby to consume after six months of age. It is rich in vitamins and contains antioxidants and healthy fats that are great for your baby’s growth and development. If you have the choice, extra virgin olive oil is best, as it was never processed. Never use olive oil to cure your child’s constipation, and remember that too much of it can cause diarrhea.
If you have any questions about giving your child olive oil, it is best to consult your child’s physician. He or she will be able to discuss your concerns more thoroughly.