Banana for Babies - Recipes, Health Benefits & Precautions

Are Bananas Good for Babies?

Wonder why our grandparents and parents have always been recommending bananas to us when we were kids? Because bananas are a powerhouse of energy! Plus, it’s an ideal fruit to give to babies as soon as they start weaning. Rich in calories and nutrients like potassium and magnesium, this tropical fruit or crop helps the children’s overall development (1). Since we are talking about babies, you might have this question, ‘Are bananas good for babies?’ Thanks to their sweetness and creamy texture, babies enjoy eating it! Here is what you should know about the benefits of bananas in babies.

Nutritional Value of Bananas

The nutritional value of one medium-ripe robusta variety banana with a portion of 100 grams is as follows:

  • Calories: 97 kcal
  • Total fat: 0.29 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: <4 mg
  • Potassium: 326 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 23 g (Total dietary fibre: 4.62 g)
  • Protein: 0.74 g
  • Vitamin A:  1 mcg
  • Vitamin C: 12.3 mg
  • Iron: <0.4 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.209 mg
  • Magnesium: 28 mg
  • Folate: 14 mcg
  • Zinc: 0.16 mg

Source: USDA (2)

When Should Bananas Be Introduced to Babies?

Doctors recommend that you give your child bananas at the age of 6 months, right around the time he starts eating semi-solids. A small banana per day for a 6-month-old baby is ideal. Initially, start by feeding 2 tsp of mashed banana before moving on to other ways of serving them. Infants under the age of 7-12 months require around 80mcg folate and 275 mg of phosphorus (3) (4), and bananas are a good source of such nutrients.

Amazing Health Benefits of Bananas for Babies

A mother’s first choice when introducing solids to her baby is undoubtedly bananas. It is the best food for babies who have just started to wean. However, there is a common question among moms: does banana cause constipation in babies?

Well, below are some of the benefits of bananas:

1. High in Fibre

It has high fibre content which keeps one feeling full for a long time. Moreover, the fibre helps in clearing the bowel.

2. Full of Nutrients

The fruit is loaded with nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6. Bananas help babies gain weight by increasing calorie density.

3. Good for Bones

The potassium and calcium in bananas help strengthen the bones.

4. Improves Brainpower

Folate present in bananas helps in developing the brain and improves memory. It also prevents brain damage. Additionally, bananas are also rich in Tryptophan, an interesting amino acid, which we can only receive from our diet helps generate neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, making it necessary for proper brain function (5).

5. Improves Eyesight

The Vitamin A present in bananas helps improve vision as it aids in the protection of the cornea.

6. Cures Constipation

Bananas are high in fibre. This helps in good bowel movements, thus curing constipation in babies if given in small quantities.

7. Good for Digestion

Banana’s smooth texture makes it easier to digest. It is also good for the tummy. Constipated babies can be given mashed bananas to help them pass stools more easily (6). Bananas also help replenish the electrolytes in the body because of potassium in cases of vomiting or diarrhoea (7).

8. The Best Finger Fruit

Bananas are one of the most convenient fruits as they can be carried more easily while travelling and do not require washing or washing before eating. You can simply peel them and eat them anywhere. They are a great travel snack, and they are heavy on fibre that can keep you full for a longer time, unlike other fruits.

9. Fights Anaemia

It is believed that eating bananas can help fight anaemia. In a 2020 study, it was found that students who consumed bananas for a controlled period of time had a significant increase in their haemoglobin levels (8).

10. Enhances Sleep Quality

A sound mind ensures a sound body. Many studies, including the 2002 study, state that magnesium is known to improve sleep quality, help fall asleep quickly, and reduce insomnia (9). In fact, giving bananas to babies before their bedtime may help them sleep better because, as per a 2001 research, magnesium helps maintain the GABA (Gamma-Aminobytric acid) levels in the body, which are the neurotransmitters that promote restful sleep by slowing down the brain waves (10)

11. Provides Instant Energy

Nothing can beat a banana when you need energy for an errand or a workout.

How Can You Give Bananas to Your Infant?

Baby eating mashed banana

Listed below are a few of the age-specific pointers for serving a banana to your baby.

  1. Giving Bananas to a 6-Month-Old Baby: Peel the banana and cut it into pieces. Mash it with a fork. By doing so, the banana becomes extremely soft. This makes it easy for the baby to swallow it.
  2. Giving Bananas to a 9-Month-Old Infant: By 9 months, a baby graduates from pureed food to small solid bites. Therefore, you can give the banana mashed or in small chunks.
  3. Giving Bananas to a 1-Year-Old Baby: You could just peel a banana till the middle and give it to your baby. This way, the baby will be able to get a good grip on it without it slipping off his hand. However, make sure to snip off the extra peel with scissors so that it does not get inside his mouth. You can also peel the banana, cut it into small, round pieces and encourage your little one to eat it using a fork.

Precautions to Take While Feeding Bananas to Your Baby

Some of the precautions you need to take are:

  • Do not give your baby raw bananas, as they are hard to digest. Make sure that the banana you are serving is ripe and yellow in colour. Ripe bananas have a creamy texture and palatable taste and are easy to digest.
  • Mash the bananas properly for babies who have just started eating semi-solids so they don’t choke.
  • Make sure to check for banana allergy or intolerance in your baby by applying the three-day wait rule. Do not mix any ingredient in the banana mash or puree when feeding it to your baby for the first time. Wait for three days, and do not feed any new food or ingredient during this waiting period. If your little one is healthy and happy as usual, it means there is no allergy or intolerance to bananas. If they experience itching, heavy breathing, hives, or anything unusual, take them out to a doctor for a diagnosis.
  • When starting with bananas for the first time, start with one or two teaspoons. If your little munchkin shows a positive response to it, then level up with a tablespoon and sometime later two.
  • If your little one does not respond well to the banana, squirms, or turns their face, then don’t force. Take a beat and try again sometime later.
  • Don’t feed them too much banana, as it could make them fuller, making them skip breastfeeding, eventually missing out on other more essential nutrients.
  • ‘Can we give banana to baby at night?’ is a common question among parents. The best advice would be to resist feeding bananas at night to your baby if they have a cough or cold, as it could make it tougher for your little one.
  • Even though bananas help with better sleep, in Ayurveda, it is advised to avoid feeding bananas to a child during the cold winter months.
  • Feeding banana mash or puree very late at night to your baby may also cause gas or bloating, as the digestive fire at night is very low.
  • Do not worry if after some time of peeling, cutting, or pureeing a banana, it turns to a brown colour. It is because of the oxidation of polyphenols in bananas, which is a process called enzymatic browning (11).

Are Bananas Often Considered a Choking Hazard for Babies?

Well, anything can be a choking hazard if it isn’t provided to a baby in a suitable, proper form. Ripe bananas usually do not pose any choking issue, but they can certainly make a child gag or choke if the chunks are too big to be swallowed even after mashing. The banana could stick to the insides of a child’s mouth.

Processed bananas, on the other hand, in the form of banana chips or dried bananas, may pose a choking threat for a baby or a toddler. Therefore, to minimise the risk, it is always better to pick fresh ripe bananas for the baby, and provide them in an appropriate way and serving as per their age. For instance, if your little one is between 7 to 18 months old, it is best to give them bananas only in mashed or pureed form. Once they have developed proper swallowing and chewing reflexes, you can serve them small banana bites to chew and swallow.

Is Banana Good for Babies During Cold and Cough?

Yes, a child can have bananas even if he is having a cough and cold, but it has to be avoided in children who are allergic to bananas. Moreover, it is important to avoid giving bananas to babies or toddlers at night, especially during colder months, because feeding bananas to a child at night may worsen the cold or cough by producing more mucus.

Are There Any Harmful Effects of Giving Bananas to Infants?

A banana a day will do no harm to an infant. However, too much of anything is bad. Therefore, bananas too should be given to infants in moderation.

How Much Banana Can a Baby Eat in a Day?

Is banana good for babies every day? Well, the answer is yes. However, a baby should be given only a small banana once a day. Eating too many all at once could pose a problem to the child’s health and can lead to constipation due to the pectin fibre present in it.

Delicious Banana Recipes for Babies

We have noticed that many parents search around how to prepare a banana for the baby recipe. Apart from eating it as a fruit, different recipes can also be prepared using bananas. Here are 7 easy recipes you can try making for your little one.

1. Banana Milkshake (8 months and above)

This is a nutritious drink devoid of gluten and high in fibre.

What You Need:

  • 1 small banana
  • ¼ – ½ cup warm milk
  • A pinch of cinnamon

How to Make It:

Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor into a smooth paste and feed the baby.

2. Banana and Strawberry Smoothie (8 months and above)

This smoothie contains antioxidants and fibre, which can help aid digestion.

Banana and Strawberry Smoothie

What You Need:

  • 2 whole ripe bananas (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries
  • Milk

How to Make It:

Blend everything together and serve immediately.

3. Ragi and Banana Porridge for Babies (8 months and above)

This is ideal if you want to give your baby something that is gluten and lactose-free.

What You Need:

  • 1 tbsp ragi flour
  • 1 small banana

How to Make It:

  1. In a pan, boil ¼ cup water.
  2. Lower the heat once it starts boiling, and add the ragi flour.
  3. Keep stirring until the porridge turns slightly thick.
  4. Take the mix off the flame and allow the porridge to cool down.
  5. Add the mashed banana to the porridge and stir well.
  6. Once this is done, you can serve it to your baby.

4. Banana and Yogurt Mix

Loaded with probiotics, this can aid in the proper functioning of the gut.

What You Need:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • Yoghurt

How to Make It:

Peel the banana and cut it into small round shapes. Mix it with yoghurt. This healthy recipe is ready to be served!

5. Apple and Banana Puree (6 months and above)

This apple and banana puree is super easy to make and easy on your little one’s stomach.

What You Need:

  • 1/2 apple (peeled and steamed)
  • 1/2 banana
  • Breast milk or formula milk
  • 1/4th tsp jaggery powder (totally optional)

How to Make It:

  • In a bowl, mash apples and bananas together using a fork.
  • To dilute the consistency, you can add breast milk or formula milk. If you see lumps, you can put the mixture into a blender to blend it into a smooth consistency.
  • Once pureed, add jaggery powder to it. adding sweetness in totally optional. If the apple and banana are already very sweet, then there should be be no need of the jaggery powder. You can do a taste check before adding jaggery powder.

6. Banana Custard (12 months and above)

This banana custard is a refreshing new recipe to introduce banana to toddlers who did not appreciate it in plain form. You can even make use of seasonal fruits to whip up a colourful custrad.

What You Need:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tablespoon custard powder
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon raisin puree
  • 1 tablespoon dry fruit powder (optional)
  • a pinch of cinnamon

How to Make It:

  1. In a bowl, combine custard powder, raisin puree, and one-fourth cup of whole milk. Let it set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk to a boil over medium heat. Once it boils, reduce the flame and let the milk simmer for five more minutes.
  3. Slowly add the custard powder mixture and then dry fruit powder to the simmering milk while stirring continuously.
  4. Allow the mixture to boil until it thickens. Stir occasionally. Once it thickens to your desired consistency, remove the custard from the heat.
  5. Let the custard cool in the saucepan. Stir in banana puree and cinnamon, then refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.

7. Banana Cerelac

This baby banana cereal recipe is quick and easy to prepare. Plus, it gives a twist to plain old, boring Cerelac.

What You Need:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 3 tablespoons baby Cerelac
  • 1 teaspoon raisin puree
  • 1 cup water

How to Make It:

  1. In a small bowl, add Cerelac, raisin puree, and water. Stir it well so that no lumps are left.
  2. In another small bow, mash a banana and set it aside.
  3. In a saucepan, add the Cerelac mixture and cook it on low flame for 10 minutes. Once the cereal begins to thicken, turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Once the mixture is lukewarm, add the mashed banana. Stir so there are no lumps. Your Cerelac is ready.

Some other foods you can mix with bananas for more fun recipes are:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Avocado
  • Kiwi

FAQs

1. Is it fine to give a baby a banana every day?

Babies in their early semi-solid to solid stage may not be able to consume a whole banana in a day, even if served in multiple servings. Therefore, it is essential to learn about the 

2. Does a banana help a baby sleep?

Yes, the tryptophan, potassium, and manganese in bananas help promote better sleep (9) (10).

3. Is choosing bananas as the first food for babies a good option?

Yes, a mashed or pureed banana is a nice way to introduce your baby to semi-solids (12).

4. How do you know if your baby is allergic to bananas?

Just like any other food allergy, banana allergy presents itself with some symptoms, such as hives (itchy rashes), wheezing, swelling on the mouth, throat, and skin, or stomach pain and nausea (13).

Banana is often the first fruit introduced to a baby after he starts taking semi-solids. This is because the fruit is smooth and creamy in texture, which makes it easy for babies to swallow. These nutrients help in the baby’s bone development, improve the immune system, and improve vision, among many other benefits. And you get all of this goodness at a great price!

References/Resources:

1. Sub tropical banana nutrition – matching nutrition requirements to growth demands; NSW; https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/horticulture/tropical/growing-bananas/sub-tropical-banana-nutrition.

2. Bananas, ripe and slightly ripe, raw; USDA; https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/790991/nutrients; April 2020

3. Higdon. J; Folate; Oregon State University; https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/folate#RDA; 2000

4. Higdon. J; Phosphorus; Oregon State University; https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/phosphorus#RDA; 2001

5. Is Eating Bananas Good for the Brain?; Creyos; https://creyos.com/resources/articles/can-a-banana-boost-cognition

6. Help Your Digestive System with These 5 Foods; UPMC; https://share.upmc.com/2014/09/help-digestive-system-5-foods/; September 2014

7. Bananas; Harvard. T.H. Chan; https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/bananas/

8. Sadiman. S, Islamiyati. I, Poddar. S; The differences in hemoglobin levels before and after consuming ambon bananas in students; 3rd International Conference on Healthcare and Allied Sciences; Elsevier; https://www.elsevier.es/es-revista-enfermeria-clinica-35-articulo-the-differences-in-hemoglobin-levels-S113086212030067X; 2019

9. Held. K, Antonijevic. I. A, et al.; Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans; Pharmacopsychiatry; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12163983/; July 2002

10. Möykkynen. T, Uusi-Oukari. M, Heikkilä. J, et al.; Magnesium potentiation of the function of native and recombinant GABA(A) receptors; Neuroreport; PubMed; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11447329/; July 2001

11. Enzymatic Browning; ScienceDirect; https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/enzymatic-browning

12. Ellis. E; Do’s and Don’ts for Baby’s First Foods; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/babys-first-foods/dos-and-donts-for-babys-first-foods; December 2019

13. Banana Allergy; Anaphylaxis UK; https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/fact-sheet/banana/

Also Read:

Grapes for Babies
Chikoo (Sapota) for Infants
Introducing Grapes to Babies

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