Bananas are one of the most common food items served first to babies due to their naturally soft texture and sweet taste. Most babies love bananas! But when are they really safe for babies?
Bananas are a great first solid food for your baby as they are full of vitamins and minerals, not to mention they are easy to prepare and readily accessible.
Parents are looking for easy and healthy ways to introduce solid foods to their babies who are just starting to eat. Banana is one of the first fruits that come to mind as it is soft and commonly readily available, but how do you safely serve it to your baby?
Can Babies Have Bananas? When is Safe?
Bananas are a great first food to serve to your baby as they are soft, sweet, and full of essential nutrients important for your growing baby. Bananas are best served to your baby fresh and cut up in appropriate sizes.
Dried and dehydrated bananas, as they are harder, can cause choking.
These types also contain additional sugars, which if given in excess may cause an increased risk of health problems such as increased blood pressure, cavities, and even obesity later on (Source: JournalofPediatricGastroenterologyandNutrition).
The table below shows safety implications for bananas depending on your child’s age.
|Only breast milk should be given to babies at this age.
|Bananas can be given to babies at this age, be observant as this may be the first time you introduce bananas to your baby, and look for signs of an allergic reaction. Banana allergy is rare, however. Only fresh bananas cut in appropriate sizes (discussed below) should be given to your baby at this age to reduce choking risks.
|You may experiment more on how you serve bananas to your baby at this age, you may add dips such as diluted nut butter, etc.
|24 months and up
|By this age you may introduce whole bananas and bananas cooked/prepared in different ways such as dried, chips, or sweetened.
Are Bananas Good for Babies? The Nutritional Benefits
Bananas are great for babies! They are full of essential vitamins and minerals needed by your baby to grow up strong and healthy.
Bananas are full of potassium, a mineral that helps with the maintenance of healthy water levels outside of our cells and helps to combat high blood pressure.
It is also an excellent source of vitamin B6 that aids with cardiovascular health and decreases the risk of some cancers.
Bananas also contain vitamin C, which helps maintain your baby’s immune health and has been observed to play a role in managing free radicals in the body.
Last but not least, it is also rich in dietary fiber, which can support digestive health and even reduce the risk of developing hypertension (Source: Harvard).
As bananas are a great source of carbohydrate that makes your baby full and satisfied, a great way to make it into a complete and healthy snack is by adding some great sources of protein and fat.
To do this, you may serve bananas to your baby with smooth nut butter diluted in yogurt.
Nut butter is a great way to introduce good fat to your baby’s snack, and the yogurt helps by adding protein, not to mention it dilutes the nut butter enough to decrease the risk of choking hazards for younger children. Be alert for nut allergies if you’ve never given it to your baby before.
Can Babies Be Allergic to Bananas? How to Tell
Banana allergy is not common, but the reaction to it has been reported from time to time. Only 0.1-1.2% of the population suffers from reactions to bananas. There have also been studies that 45% of people allergic to latex are also allergic to bananas (Source: FamilyMedicineAustin).
Symptoms of a banana allergy can be the same as any other food allergy, signs to look out for are:
- Itching or swelling of the place of contact (hands, mouth, area around the mouth, tongue)
- Swollen/red eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal discomfort (pain, vomiting) (Source: Healthline)
There have been reported cases of anaphylaxis due to banana allergy. When this happens, contact emergency services immediately (Source: JournalofMedicalCaseReports).
Can Babies Choke on Bananas? Reducing the Risk
Bananas are not a common choking hazard for babies as they are soft. Babies may tend to gag while eating bananas as they can stick to the roof of their mouths, but this is natural.
Even so, remember the signs of choking and the difference between gagging and choking.
Gagging can be noisy as your baby tries to cough out the food, and choking is silent as your baby’s airway is blocked and they are being deprived of breath (Source: Childreswi).
Giving bananas cut into appropriate sizes for age can also reduce the risk of choking. The table below will discuss this further.
|Offer fresh bananas cut in half lengthwise or cut into spears by cutting the whole banana into 3 lengthwise, another option is to serve the banana mashed into a spoon.
|Bananas cut into spears are the best way to serve bananas to babies at this age, giving them bite-sized pieces at this age may also be a great way to practice pincer grasp.
|Bite-sized pieces of banana are the best option for babies this age as they continue to develop their pincer skills.
|By this age you may be able to give a whole banana to your child, this may also be the best time to teach them how to peel and hold a whole banana.
To reduce the risk of choking during mealtime be sure to provide a calm eating environment where the baby is sitting upright and you are at most an arm’s length away from them at all times.
Are Bananas OK For Babies’ First Food?
As discussed above, bananas offer a bunch of nutrients needed for your baby’s healthy and normal development. They are a great first food for babies due to their abundance and easy accessibility.
By age, you may experiment on how to serve bananas to your baby, you may add them in porridges, mueslis, yogurt, or even in nut butter.
For babies practicing baby-led weaning, you may start by giving them half of a peeled ripe banana cut lengthwise and let them gnaw on it on their own. You may also give them banana spears and watch them feed themselves.
I hope I have answered your questions regarding serving bananas to your baby. Bananas are a great and easy way to introduce fruits to your baby as it is easy and hassle-free.