Plantains may be introduced as soon as a baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. While plantains are delicious when deep fried, opt for baked or boiled plantains for babies and hold off on fried plantains until a child is older.
Plantains are a type of banana, with more starch, an earthier taste, and just a touch of sweetness that becomes more pronounced as they ripen. While plantains can technically be eaten raw when they are very ripe, the fruit is called a “cooking banana” for a reason. It is most often prepared like a vegetable… specifically, like a potato—boiled and mashed, steamed and grilled, smashed and fried, sliced and baked—almost always with aromatic seasoning from alliums, herbs, and spices.
Plantains originated in the tropics of Asia, where colonizers took the fruit to Africa and later to the Americas, where it flourishes today. Around the world, the fruit is used to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert. In Ghana, plantains are marinated in savory spices to make kelewele; in Cuba, fufu features boiled and mashed plantains mixed with sofrito; in Nicaragua, fried plantains show up with stewed meats, rice, and beans on heaping plates called frittanga; and in the Philippines, plantains are battered and fried to make sweet fritters called maruya.
★Tip: When reading recipes, pay attention to a plantain’s stage of ripeness. Green plantains are hard and extra starchy and cannot necessarily be swapped for sweet plantains which, over time, become mottled with brown spots as they ripen, and eventually turn black—a sign of peak sweetness. Make sure to store plantains at room temperature to ripen. Once they are black, transfer the fruit to the fridge to extend the shelf life. Once peeled, they can be frozen for up to a month.
Kalani, 8 months, eats sautéed plantain.
Julian, 13 months, eats sautéed plantains.
Leila, 16 months, eats a tostone. Tostones and other fried plantain preparations are possible choking hazards.
Yes. The fruit contains plenty of carbohydrates and important nutrients to help babies thrive. Plantains are packed with B vitamins, including B6 and folate, to help babies turn food into energy and grow their cells and tissues. They also contain some vitamin A to strengthen babies’ eyesight, skin, and immune system, and vitamin C to help babies absorb iron and develop a strong immune system. Plus, they are a rich source of fiber that can promote a healthy digestive system by cultivating friendly bacteria in a baby’s gut.
Plantains are often processed to create food products like chips, fries, and tostones—delicious twice-fried rounds of green plantains—and their sweeter fried cousins, maduros. Many preparations of plantains involve frying in oil. However, the high heat of frying can lead to undesirable changes in the oil/fat quality such as the creation of trans fats and free radicals. Plus, fried food, including plantains, tends to be accompanied by quite a bit of salt. If fried plantains are part of your family's food culture, consider offering more boiled or baked, lightly salted (or unsalted) plantains to babies, and once a child is old enough to handle the challenging consistency of fried plantains, offer in moderation.
Plantain flour is a nutritious product for babies and toddlers, especially in gluten-free families. Made with starchy green plantains, the flour contains fiber and vitamins, and when it’s processed from both the flesh and the peel, it offers calcium, iron, and antioxidants.
★Tip: As with many fruits picked before peak ripeness, plantains often are artificially ripened and, as a result, may contain chemical residues. Plantains also tend to be heavily sprayed with pesticides, affecting families on or near plantations. Washing plantains before slicing may help reduce pesticide exposure. For those with more bandwidth in their budget, consider choosing organic and/or fair-trade plantains to support smaller plantain producers and their families.
No, though certain preparations of plantains (such as tostones or plantain chips) can be. As always, be sure to create a safe eating environment and stay near baby during mealtime.
No. Plantains are not a common allergen, although individuals with ragweed allergy, latex allergy, or oral allergy syndrome (also called pollen food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to plantains and bananas. Oral allergy syndrome typically presents as a mild and temporary itching in the mouth, which usually resolves on its own. However, oral allergy symptoms tend not to be a problem when the plantain is cooked before serving. People who are allergic to bananas may also be allergic to plantains as the fruits are part of the same plant family.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Cook plantains until soft then cut into large pieces to serve as finger food or mash, adding milk or stock to loosen the food if desired. Serve with minimal seasoning to introduce the taste of the fruit on its own. Let baby use hands to scoop up the food or offer a pre-loaded spoon to encourage utensil practice.
Offer bite-size pieces of well-cooked plantain and try mixing the fruit with other foods like beans and grains. You may also continue to serve large pieces of cooked plantain for biting and tearing practice and mashes for spoon practice. Just hold off on serving fried plantains such as tostones; the hard, crispy texture can be challenging for young toddlers to break, chew, and swallow safely.
Serve cooked plantains as you wish; almost anything goes at this age. If you feel your child has established strong chewing skills, you can introduce the occasional plantain fritters, tostones, and even plantain chips—though it is best to keep fried foods like these to a minimum.
How often should you offer solids? See our sample feeding schedules for babies of every age.
2 cups (480 grams)
This recipe contains a common allergen: coconut (milk). While coconut allergy is rare, it is classified as a tree nut by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.
Wash the plantain. Cut off and discard tips, then cut plantains crosswise into thirds. Don’t worry about peeling the plantain just yet. It is easier to peel once cooked.
Bring 4 c (960 ml) of water or stock to a boil in a large pot, then add plantain. Lower heat to create a simmer.
Partially cover and cook until the plantain has softened and can be easily pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain.
Drain and reserve 1 c (240 ml) of cooking liquid.
Peel and mash the plantain. Stir in the coconut milk until the mash is mostly smooth. Some texture is okay as long as there are no large clumps of plantain. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the mash as needed.
Serve the Mangú
Offer the mangú and let baby self-feed.
If help is needed, pre-load a baby spoon and rest it next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass the pre-loaded spoon in the air for baby to grab from you.
Eat your meal alongside baby to model how it’s done.
To Store: Mangú keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months. If the leftover mangú seems dry as you reheat it, mix in a splash of water, coconut milk, or stock to loosen the mixture to your liking.
Try pairing plantains with other tropical fruits and vegetables like avocado, coconut, cassava, papaya, or yams; serve alongside eggs; hearty meats like bison, goat, lamb, spare ribs, and steak; or protein-rich seafood like salmon, sardine, or shrimp. Like other starchy foods, plantains act like a blank canvas for seasonings and spices, so experiment with your family’s favorite flavors. Try a savory blend of chile, garlic, lemon, and oil taste delicious—or go sweet with allspice, coconut sugar, and plenty of butter. Add extra flavor with ground peanut or your favorite nut.
J. Truppi, MSN, CNS
V. Kalami, MNSP, RD
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. (allergy section)
R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP, Board-Certified General Pediatrician and Pediatric Gastroenterologist
Sign up for new guides, recipes and special offers
The content offered on SolidStarts.com is for informational purposes only. Solidstarts is not engaged in rendering professional advice, whether medical or otherwise, to individual users or their children or families. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or your medical or health professional, nutritionist, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. By accessing the content on SolidStarts.com, you acknowledge and agree that you are accepting the responsibility for your child’s health and well-being. In return for providing you with an array of content “baby-led weaning” information, you waive any claims that you or your child may have as a result of utilizing the content on SolidStarts.com.