Banana

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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a banana split in half prepared for a baby starting solids

When can babies eat bananas?

Bananas may be introduced as soon as a baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Need ideas for the best first foods for babies? See our guides.

Background & origin of the banana

How did banana become one of the most consumed fruits in the world? It started in the tropics of Asia, where the plant originated and still grows wild. There, one can enjoy a bevy of banana and plantain varieties in different sizes, shapes, and colors, from red to orange to pink to purple, with a taste that ranges from starchy to sweet. Yet despite its incredible biodiversity (more than 1,000 known varieties exist), just one—the Cavendish banana—dominates the world market. This cultivar has a sturdy peel that protects the fruit while it travels long distances, a competitive advantage over tender types that are eaten quickly after harvest. The Cavendish has become a major global export in Africa and the Americas, where colonizers introduced similarly durable varieties that led to commercial plantations that supply the world today. If you live in Europe, Canada, or the United States, the Cavendish is mostly likely the banana at your local grocer. Fun fact: the whole banana plant can be put to use, from its edible flowers, shoots, and roots to its sturdy medicinal leaves. Even the peel is edible!

Kalani, 7 months, eats banana.
Ripley, 9 months, eats banana spears.

Are bananas healthy for babies?

Yes. Bananas are packed with carbohydrates to energize the body and essential nutrients that babies need to thrive, like folate, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Together these nutrients support the nervous system, skin health, iron absorption, and blood pressure. A bonus: bananas contain more antioxidants than many berries, herbs, and vegetables!1

Nutrients vary by ripeness. For example, all bananas contain a good amount of fiber to build a healthy digestive system, but less-ripe bananas contain more prebiotic fiber than ripe bananas, which contain more soluble fiber.2 3 No matter the stage of ripeness, bananas are a great addition to a child’s diet and an excellent snack when paired with a healthy protein or fat, such as nut butter that has been thinned with yogurt to reduce the choking hazard for kids.

Despite its nutritional benefits, banana is not without flaws. Conventionally grown bananas are heavily sprayed with pesticides, which can harm the environment and health of the people who grow and eat the food.4 5 Thankfully, peeling and discarding the banana skin can minimize exposure to pesticides—and there is growing demand for more sustainably cultivated, equitably sourced bananas.6 7 For those who prefer to eat the peel (yes, it is edible!) and food products made from it (like banana peel flour), consider purchasing organic or treating these as “once-in-a-while foods”—and be sure to wash the peel thoroughly before cooking to remove pesticide residue.

★Tip: Bananas are affordable and easy to serve—an ideal fruit when pressed for time, which, let’s face it, can happen every day. If you’d like to cut back on a daily banana habit, try treating the fruit as a backup food for on-the-go moments with children.

Do bananas cause constipation? Can bananas ease diarrhea?

Despite popular perception, the evidence for bananas causing constipation is weak.8 In fact, there’s research that suggests that bananas can help promote regular bowel movements. The belief that bananas cause constipation may come down to differences in ripeness.

Unripe green bananas are higher in resistant starches and soluble fibers, which help feed gut bacteria (great for regularity), while also containing tannins. Tannins are a type of polyphenol that makes unripe bananas suck the moisture out of your mouth. When tannins are consumed in excess, they can be associated with constipation; despite this, green bananas may still help support regular bowel movements.9

If you’re worried bananas are causing constipation, explore offering ripe bananas. As bananas become riper, the starch and tannin decrease, and the natural sugar content increases, which may be more helpful for an already constipated child.10 11 12

That said, constipation is complicated. There’s usually more to it than just bananas—like other foods in a baby’s diet, a baby’s medical history, and the natural shift in the gut microbiome with the introduction of solid food. If you have any concerns about constipation, be sure to talk to your pediatric health care provider.

★Tip: Store green bananas in a brown paper bag to speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, peel and pop them in an air-tight container in the freezer—where they’ll keep for a couple of months.

Are bananas a common choking hazard for babies?

No. Bananas are not a common cause of choking, but they are a common cause of gagging, as they may stick to the inside of baby’s mouth. However, processed banana (such as dried banana and banana chips) certainly can be. To minimize the risk, serve fresh banana and refrain from offering fried or dried preparations until closer to the second birthday. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment, stay within arm’s reach of a baby at mealtime, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions.

For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are bananas a common allergen?

No. Although bananas are not considered a common allergen, reactions to banana have been reported.13 14 Individuals with ragweed allergy, latex allergy, or oral allergy syndrome (also called pollen food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to bananas.15 16 17 Oral allergy syndrome typically causes mild, temporary itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth, which usually resolves on its own. Cooking banana before serving can minimize oral allergy symptoms. Individuals with oral allergy syndrome are also unlikely to react to banana-flavored foods.

Banana can be a trigger food for babies and toddlers who have FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome), a type of delayed allergic reaction that can result in vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and dehydration a few hours after ingesting the food.18 To learn more about FPIES, see our Allergies page.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity during the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.

How do you prepare bananas for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: You’ve got options! Offer one half of a whole, peeled banana on its own. Serve spears from a banana that has been split lengthwise into thirds. Or mash banana and pre-load a spoon for baby to try to pick up or grab from you. Remember, babies oftentimes gag on banana because it is soft and sticky. If you notice banana is sticking to the roof of baby’s mouth causing an intense gag, consider lengthwise spears of banana instead of a whole peeled banana. Unlike other foods that when served big give the inside of the mouth a lot of sensory feedback, the soft, squishy nature of banana doesn’t tend to provide the same type of input.

9 to 12 months old: Banana spears are a great option at this age. If a baby is stuffing and shoveling food into the mouth, try serving smaller, bite-sized pieces broken off from a banana already split into spears, which will make the pieces easier to pick up and less slippery. Slices of banana are great for pincer grasp practice, and can also be added to yogurt, oatmeal, and porridge.

12 to 18 months old: Offer bite-sized pieces—or if you feel comfortable, serve spears or even a whole banana. The exact size is up to you, though certain sizes may yield more consumption depending on the child’s eating skills.

18 to 24 months old: This is a great time to move back up in size by offering the whole banana. Try teaching how to peel a banana—a fun activity for toddlers.

hand holding a single banana spear
Banana spear made from splitting banana in thirds
hand holding four bite size banana pieces
Bite size banana pieces
Splitting a banana into spears

How often should you offer solids? See our sample feeding schedules for babies of every age.

Recipe: Banana with Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Dip

three banana spears, middle one dipped in sunbutter, sitting on a countertop next to a pile of sunbutter

Yield: 1/2 cup (64 grams)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted, unsweetened sunflower seed butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) warm water or more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5 grams) ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Cut the banana in half crosswise. Peel one half and store the other half in its peel for a future meal.
  2. Separate the peeled half into spears. An easy way to do this: gently push your index finger into the cut side of each half to separate them into spears. See a video here.
  3. Whisk the sunflower seed butter, water, and cinnamon in the child’s bowl (a bowl that suctions to the table works well in this instance!) until smooth with no clumps. The dip should be saucy; add more water as needed to reach the desired consistency.
  4. Serve and let the child self-feed with hands. Demonstrate how to dip and allow the child to dip the banana spears (or fingers!) on their own. If you wind up with a mess of dip and bananas, scoop it all into the bowl and mash it all together, then load the mash onto a spoon and hand it in the air or rest it next to the bowl for the child to try to pick up.

To Store: Store leftover dip in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Flavor Pairings

Banana tastes sweet and starchy—a versatile flavor that pairs well with tropical fruits like guava, lychee, mango, and papaya and juicy berries like blackberry, blueberry, strawberry. Try pairing banana with hearty nuts like almond, cashew, coconut, peanut, or walnut; creamy dairy products like kefir, ricotta cheese, or yogurt; starchy vegetables like carrot, pumpkin, or sweet potato; and nutty grains like amaranth, quinoa, or rice.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Singh, B., Singh, J.P., Kaur, A., Singh, N. (2016). Bioactive compounds in banana and their associated health benefits – A review. Food Chemistry, 206, 1-11. DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.03.033. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  2. Holscher H.D. (2017). Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut microbes, 8(2), 172–184. DOI:10.1080/19490976.2017.1290756. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  3. Zhang, P., Whistler, R.L., BeMiller, J.N., Hamaker, B.R. (2004). Banana starch : production, physiochemical properties, and digestibility—a review. Carbohydrate Polymers, 59(4), 443-458. DOI:10.1016/j.carbpol.2004.10.014. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  4. Barraza, D., Jansen, K., van Wendel de Joode, B., Wesseling, C.. Pesticide use in banana and plantain production and risk perception among local actors in Talamanca, Costa Rica. Environ Res. 2011 Jul;111(5):708-17. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2011.02.009. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  5. Barraza, D., Jansen, K., van Wendel de Joode, B., Wesseling, C.. Pesticide use in banana and plantain production and risk perception among local actors in Talamanca, Costa Rica. Environ Res. 2011 Jul;111(5):708-17. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2011.02.009. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  6. Amini Khoozani, A., Birch, J., Bekhit, A. (2019). Production, application and health effects of banana pulp and peel flour in the food industry. Journal of food science and technology, 56(2), 548–559. DOI:10.1007/s13197-018-03562-z. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  7. Gomes, H.O., Menezes, J., da Costa, J., Coutinho, H., Teixeira, R., et al. (2020). Evaluating the presence of pesticides in bananas: An integrative review. Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 189, 110016. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoenv.2019.110016. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  8. Müller-Lissner, S.A., Kaatz, V., Brandt, W., Keller, J., & Layer, P. (2005). The perceived effect of various foods and beverages on stool consistency. European journal of gastroenterology & hepatology, 17(1), 109–112. DOI:10.1097/00042737-200501000-00020. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  9. Falcomer, A. L., Riquette, R., de Lima, B. R., Ginani, V. C., & Zandonadi, R. P. (2019). Health Benefits of Green Banana Consumption: A Systematic ReviewNutrients11(6), 1222. DOI: 10.3390/nu11061222. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  10. Falcomer, A. L., Riquette, R., de Lima, B. R., Ginani, V. C., & Zandonadi, R. P. (2019). Health Benefits of Green Banana Consumption: A Systematic ReviewNutrients11(6), 1222. DOI: 10.3390/nu11061222. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
  11. Zhang, P. Whistler, R.L., BeMiller, J.N., Haymaker, B.R. (2005). Banana starch: production, physicochemical properties, and digestibility—a review. Carbohydrate Polymers, 59(4), 443-458. DOI: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2004.10.014. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  12. Bae S.H. (2014). Diets for constipation. Pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology & nutrition, 17(4), 203–208. DOI:10.5223/pghn.2014.17.4.203. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  13. El-Sayed, Z.A., El-Ghoneimy, D.H., El-Shennawy, D., Nasser, M.W. (2013). Evaluation of banana hypersensitivity among a group of atopic egyptian children: relation to parental/self reports. Allergy, asthma & immunology research, 5(3), 150–154. DOI:10.4168/aair.2013.5.3.150. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  14. Grob, M., Reindl, J., Vieths, S., Wüthrich, B., Ballmer-Weber, B.K. (2002). Heterogeneity of banana allergy: characterization of allergens in banana-allergic patients. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology: official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 89(5), 513–516. DOI:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62090-X. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  15. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. (2020). Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFS). Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  16. Mayo Clinic. (2019). Food Allergy. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  17. Anaphylaxis Campaign. (2018). Banana. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  18. Blackman, A. C., Anvari, S., Davis, C. M., & Anagnostou, A. (2019). Emerging triggers of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome: Lessons from a pediatric cohort of 74 children in the United States. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 122(4), 407–411. DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2019.01.022. Retrieved June 15, 2021.