Why Bananas Are Good For Babies (and Big Kids Too)

woman's hand feeding baby in high chair

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For a long time, infant cereal (most often rice) was considered the gold standard first food for infants. But in recent years experts have found that it's fine to launch a child's solid food career with vegetables, fruits, or even meats.

Given that, bananas are a great option for a first solid food for babies. In fact, bananas are a great food for babies, kids, and adults at all ages and stages: naturally sweet, soft enough to mash with a fork (or gum), and ripe with lots of key nutrients.

Why Start Solids With Bananas?

Read on to learn why bananas have so much appeal (pun intended).

Bananas Are Naturally Sweet

Babies have a natural affinity for things that taste sweet and bananas deliver, which is why they're often so easily accepted by a baby who's moving on beyond breast milk or formula.

Bananas Are Packed With Nutrients

While most people know bananas for their potassium content (which is notable!), they contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber.

Bananas contain varying amounts of vitamins A, C, D, and K; B vitamins, folate, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, manganese, and selenium. While they don't necessarily have large quantities of all of these nutrients, they pack a little bit of a lot of nutrients.

Bananas Have Fiber

With 3 grams per fruit, bananas can be a significant contributor to the overall daily intake of fiber. You'll often hear conflicting information regarding whether or not to give bananas to a child who is constipated. This is because it depends somewhat on the ripeness of the banana.

Less ripe bananas tend to contribute to constipation, while riper bananas do not. However, there are other foods that can help relieve constipation: prunes, plums, peaches, and pears, as well as whole grains. These might be better choices when trying to relieve constipation.

Bananas Are Super Convenient

One of the great things about bananas for babies is how simple it is to turn them into homemade baby food, even on the go. They come in their own easy-to-remove jackets (no peeler or paring knife necessary), they don't have to be refrigerated, and once peeled, they don't need to be washed.

You can mash a ripe banana into a puree with the back of a plastic fork— no fancy baby food-making equipment necessary. And if you're using the baby-led feeding method, you can leave some peel on for a baby to use to hold onto the banana while they eat. Or roll sticks of banana into things like crushed cereal to make them easier to hold.

Feeding Your Child Bananas

When buying bananas, choose fruit that's fully yellow in color and that separate easily from each other at the stem—both indications of ripeness. Of course, you also can purchase bananas that aren't still a little green and allow them to ripen in a bowl (outside of the refrigerator).

Store unpeeled bananas at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. If you choose to puree a few batches of bananas, divide them into serving sizes, and freeze them.

You may notice that the puree turns brown; don't worry—this is natural and doesn't mean it's unsafe for your baby to eat. If it bothers you, though, dip slices into lemon juice, lime juice, apple juice, or lime juice; the ascorbic acid in the citrus will counter the process that leads to browning and shouldn't affect the flavor of the fruit. If it does, you also can try using club soda.

As your child grows, you can continue to make bananas a key part of her diet. Keep giving them to her pureed or mashed until she's about 9 months old. You then can offer them as finger foods in sliced and quartered chunks. By the time she's a year old, you can hand her a half or whole peeled banana. Before you know it, she'll be able to peel her own just like a big kid.

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  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Starting solid foods. Updated January 16, 2018.

  2. National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium. Updated July 11, 2019.

  3. Bae SH. Diets for constipation. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2014;17(4):203-8. doi:10.5223/pghn.2014.17.4.203

  4. American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Do's and don'ts for baby's first foods.