How to Introduce Bananas
In my baby-led weaning (“BLW”) courses, I always suggest trying bananas as a first food for baby. It’s also the first food on my BLW on-the-go foods list! However, I didn’t realize how confusing this fruit was for parents until I was inundated with questions. Let’s tackle some of the most common feeding questions regarding bananas.
In my courses, parents constantly ask which foods they should try first and how to advance in texture from that starting point. I teach parents to start their babies with basic, single-food ingredients. Then after baby has enjoyed that food’s taste, we can challenge the baby’s sensory system with different textures. You can change up the texture by either adding another food (that they have already had success with) or introducing a new consistency. Here are a few of my easy texture recipe combinations to try:
You can diversify your baby’s puree to make it a thin, thick, or lumpy puree just by varying the amount of breast milk or formula added to the mixture. This changes the texture, the tint (color), and taste too! All you have to do is mash half of a banana with a fork in the ezpz Tiny Bowl and add breast milk or formula. Give your little one a head start on their self-feeding skills by preloading the ezpz Tiny Spoon and then offering the spoon to your baby. (I designed the Tiny Spoon for ezpz to be the perfect size for a baby’s tiny mouth).
Peel + Strips
This is how I teach parents to prepare, serve, and model eating a banana for BLW:
- Start by washing and cutting the banana into three sections. The first section is for you to model how to eat it, and the second section is for your baby. Be sure to cut the peel a bit, leaving the banana exposed, but keep the peel on to help your baby grip it and easily work on their hand-to-mouth coordination. This feeding therapy technique helps break down the motor planning of reaching, griping, balancing, and biting the banana to make those first few bites of banana easy and rewarding!
- After your baby has successfully eaten a few bites with the peel on, use your index finger to push through the third section of the banana. This will effectively make safe strips for your baby to try without the peel. (Watch me demonstrate this technique on Instagram, and be sure to give me a follow there too!)
I also like to cut a banana into long slices (like French fries), then roll the slices into crushed peanut puffs called Puffworks. Puffworks is an organic peanut butter product made specifically for babies. It is plant-based, gluten-free, vegan, and it’s a great way to introduce the peanut protein (a potentially allergenic food) to your little one. This texture makes it easier for your baby to pick up and eat independently. Also, the combination of a slightly crunchy puff and soft banana provides a new texture for your little one.
Did you know that your baby can have smoothies? Yep-it’s a great thick texture for your baby to try from an open cup or straw cup! When you first start with smoothies, offer only 1-2 ingredients (in addition to breast milk or formula). Then, as your baby gets older and has more foods under their belt, you can expand their smoothies to look more like yours! Here is a delicious banana smoothie recipe to try:
- Fresh avocado
- Fresh banana
- Breast milk or formula
- Slice the avocado + banana and place into a blender.
- Blend with 1 cup of breast milk or formula.
- Serve in the ezpz Tiny Cup or Mini Cup + Straw Training System. (I designed both of these cups for ezpz, and they are the safest cups out there for your little ones!)
- Freeze any remaining smoothie into an ice cube tray for later use.
Fried bananas are very common in my Hispanic culture, and it’s something we traditionally give to babies between 8 and 12 months. So, if you would like to try it with your little one, here is my family recipe:
- 2 Bananas
- Melt 1-2 Tbs of butter in a small frying pan.
- Cut the bananas into thin (French fry) slices.
- Gently place the bananas in the pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes on each side.
- Once the banana is coated with butter on each side, sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and serve!
What color should the banana be when introduced to baby for the first time? Several cultures serve bananas to babies at different ripening stages. That’s because depending on the color of the peel, the taste & texture can vary widely! I’ve outlined a few ideas to help you choose the right color stage for your baby:
Parents who choose to serve bananas with a green peel give baby a firmer texture with a tart taste. I do not recommend giving this texture to young babies.
Other caregivers may give baby a banana with a yellow peel, which means the texture is soft and the taste is sweet. This is an ideal color and texture for baby-led weaning.
Some families prefer to introduce bananas past their ripening stage. Bananas with a yellow peel with large brown spots or a peel that is entirely brown have a mushy texture, and the flavor is very sweet (which is why it’s usually used in baking desserts!).
Bananas can cause constipation, especially if caregivers serve them to their baby daily. But I’ve learned from the pediatric gastrointestinal (“GI”) doctors I work with that bananas also have GI benefits. So, if you have a baby with reflux, consider that bananas have a mucosal property that helps with digestion and may encourage a baby with reflux to continue eating orally (when they may normally refuse).
If you try some of my banana recipes & tips, let me know which tastes & textures your baby prefers! #MsDawnSLP
P.S. Get your baby some peanut puffs at: Go.MsDawnSLP.com/Puffworks (follow this link for 10% off). For ezpz gear, head to ezpzfun.com and use the code BABY10 for 10% off your order.