Bananas originated in the tropics of Asia, where the plant 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 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 global export in Africa and the Americas, where colonizers introduced similarly durable varieties that led to commercial plantations that supply the world today.
Aaïla, 6 months, eats a banana half.
Kalani, 7 months, eats banana.
Ripley, 9 months, eats banana spears.
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!
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. 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.
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.
No. Although bananas are not considered a common allergen, reactions to banana have been reported. Individuals with ragweed allergy, latex allergy, or oral allergy syndrome (also called pollen food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to bananas. 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. 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.
Despite popular perception, the evidence for bananas causing constipation is weak. 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.
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.
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.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Splitting a banana into spears.
How often should you offer solids? See our sample feeding schedules for babies of every age.
1/2 cup (64 grams)
Cut the banana in half crosswise. Peel one half and store the other half in its peel for a future meal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Registered dietitian and public health/clinical nutritionist
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