Extra virgin olive oil may be on your grocery shopping list, but your baby registry? It seems odd, but this healthy Mediterranean cooking oil is good for more than your salad dressing and your heart. It can actually help with a number discomforts and issues pregnant women and new mothers come up against. In fact, I kept a small bottle of organic olive oil at the changing table when my babies were little.
The Daily Green recently wrote about some surprising uses for olive oil: snoring remedy, furniture polish, ear-ache cure– it can even reduce hairballs in cats.
I’d add to that list the following uses for mother and baby:
1. Meconium Removal
A newborn’s first bowel movement–meconium– is dark, sticky and almost tar-like. It’s totally normal, just really hard to clean. A little olive oil on a tissue will do a much better job that your average wipe. And it’s gentle on the baby’s skin.
2. Nipple Balm
Moms sometimes get sore, dry and even cracked nipples as they work on getting breastfeeding off to a good start. A little dab of olive oil can help soothe and moisturize the nipple without irritating mom’s skin or the baby.
3. Cradle Cap Cure
Cradle cap is pretty common in babies– it’s a condition of the scalp characterized by oily, waxy yellow patches on the surface of the skin. Sometimes it’s very minor and resolves without much fuss but in more severe cases you may need to deal with it. The most common remedy is to rub olive oil on the affected area of the scalp with a little warm water. Let it soak for a minute and then use a soft-bristled baby brush to gently remove the patches of waxy build up.
4. Diaper Rash Cream
Maybe you’ll need full-on Triple Paste if things get very red and sore. But for mild diaper rash, olive oil can help. It’s also a decent moisturizer for babies with dry skin or non-diaper rashes. Compared with so many skin products, extra virgin olive oil has no mysterious ingredients or chemicals. It’s much better for the baby’s skin than mineral oil, which is a bi-product of crude oil! Ick. Whisk together some olive oil with a little warm water and apply to the rash.
5. Perineum Massage Oil
Some recommend pre-labor perineal massage to help stretch the skin below the vagina and prevent tearing during childbirth. To do this right put a little olive oil on two fingers and then, pressing down fairly hard on the lower perineum, move your fingers from side to side. Apparently it needs to feel a little intense for it to work. Partners can help. There’s no proof this helps, but there’s certainly no risk in trying. If you do it, start only when you’re getting close to your estimated due date.