Your Baby Will Love, um, ‘er Go Bananas for! …Bananas!
Bananas and babies are pretty much synonymous. Bananas are sweet, mushy and easy to digest, so they make a perfect first food for baby. Bonus – you don’t have to peel, chop, steam, puree bananas. Just peel, pinch with your (clean) finger, then serve. Spoons are totally optional. Older babies love to squish bananas in their own little pincher grasp. Beware, the messy banana – on bibs, faces, highchair trays, clothing, the floor, the dog, your hair. Oh, bananas! Many a happy baby has gobbled, gulped, and giggled his way through those first delicious bites of bananas!
Highlighted Nutritional Importance of Bananas
(nutrients and benefits found in one small fresh, raw banana):
- Vitamin A - supports baby’s immune system, skin, eyes, and bones
- Vitamin C - supports baby’s immune system, mucous membranes and respiratory system
- Folate – this is another B vitamin that supports brain and nervous system health
- Pantothenic Acid - this is a B vitamin that supports the immune system, healthy hormone production and basic metabolic functions of the body
- Niacin - this is another B vitamin that supports energy production in the body
- Vitamin B6 – this vitamin is needed for normal brain development and function, and helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s natural clock (think sleep and wake cycles).
- Potassium - this is an electrolyte mineral that supports healthy cardiovascular function and kidney function
- Magnesium – this is a mineral necessary to the body’s bone and skeletal health, and ultra-important in regulating energy production inside the cell
- Calcium – another mineral that regulate bone growth and skeletal development, and plays a critical role in some hormone production
- Phosphorus – this mineral works closely with calcium to help build strong bones and teeth
- Sodium – this is another electrolyte mineral that similar to potassium is needed to regulate cardiovascular function and water balance in the kidneys
- Iron – is a blood-building nutrient and enhances the oxygen carrying capacity of red blood cells
Bananas are a Wonderful First Food
Bananas can be given to baby around 4-6 months, served whole, raw, fresh and slightly mushed by your own or baby’s fingers. Bananas are not a common allergenic food, so they can be added to the baby food repertoire and enjoyed early on.
How to Select and Store Bananas for Baby Food
According to the EWG, bananas are not one of the “dirty dozen” foods that are most highly contaminated with pesticides. Therefore, purchasing organic is a personal choice. However, many people simply state that they can taste the difference between a conventionally raised banana and one that is grown organically. The organic banana seems to have a more potent “banana taste” and may be sweeter.
Ripe bananas will maintain their freshness for up to one week stored this way. But, your baby will probably eat up all the bananas before too long! It is very easy to freeze bananas. Just peel and cut ripe bananas and place in a freezer bag, then remove all the air and store for up to 3 months. Bananas do not lose their nutritional value over short periods of storage as the peel protects the soft delicious fruit inside. When selecting bananas, look for ones that are pale yellow and not bruised or overly ripe. To store bananas, simply leave them on the counter or in the fruit bowl.
Green bananas will typically ripen on the counter in just a few days. But, that doesn’t always happen, and then you are stuck with green bananas. Surprisingly, green bananas are pretty amazing too! A green banana tastes best eaten cooked, and are downright delicious if you lightly fry green banana “coins” in some coconut oil and throw in a pinch of cinnamon and a dash of sea salt. Nutritionally, the green banana is a good source of fiber and contains a specific kind of starch that may help control blood sugar, manage weight and lower blood cholesterol levels.