Banana is one of the very commonly available fruits in the world and has great health benefits for babies. Some of the health benefits of banana for infants include easy on stomach, controls diarrhoea, treats constipation, helps in reducing skin inflammation and improves urinary disorders as it’s a wholesome fruit for babies.
Banana is also considered to be ‘poor man’s fruit’ because of it low cost and availability round the year. But, banana is not a poor man’s fruit anymore. In fact, today it is the fruit for every one starting from a king to a pauper.
History of banana
Banana is thought to have originated in Papua New Guinea, where evidence of banana cultivation dates back farther than 5000 BC. From there, it reached Asia around 3000 BC. In Asia it is mainly found in tropical islands such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and India. In Asia, banana has taken an important position as a tree worth worshipping. Indians consider banana tree to be sacred. Ripened banana fruit is offered to God and the leaves of banana have been and still are used as platter for serving food during many festivals and religious occasions. Even Buddhist monks have been using bananas as food. From East Asia, bananas reached Africa, Europe and later to the Americas by the beginning of the modern period.
Athletes and sports persons take banana while playing sports. They take bananas as they provide them with instant energy. Apart from providing instant energy, they do not add any fat to the body. Thus, athletes consider banana as an ideal food for them during sports events.
Apart from being an ideal food for athletes and sports persons, banana is also considered to be a great value to regular people, who may or may not have time to work out. Many health benefits have been attributed to bananas. Some of the reasons include high supply of essential nutrients apart from carbohydrates such as 0% fat, high potassium content, least sodium content, reasonable amount of vitamin supply, etc.
Our area of interest is whether or not bananas can be introduced as baby food or not?
Yes, bananas are an ideal fruit that can be introduced to babies who are at least 6 months old or those babies who are ready to eat solid or semi-solid food. The nutrients found in bananas are not only helpful for adults but for toddlers and children as well.
Health benefits of banana include
Here are the reasons why bananas can be introduced in your baby’s diet are discussed.
- Easy on the stomach: A well ripened banana is so soft that it can be smashed easily and it slips down the throat very easily. The sweet taste of banana is particularly liked by babies and they are eager to eat it. Mashed banana is also very easy to digest and provides plenty of energy for your baby. (Ratna Rajaiah, How the Banana Goes to Heaven)
- Treats constipation: Constipation can be found in toddlers and babies as well. As babies lay on their back most of the time, it can be hard for them to push the stools out. This can result in constipation. In order that your baby is relieved of constipation, feed him or her with few teaspoons of ripened and mashed banana. Banana has decent amount of dietary fiber which adds bulk to the stool by absorbing water. Thus, stools are released with little trouble. (HK Bakhru, Foods That Heal)
- Controls diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is also one of the major problems that babies suffer. Diarrhoea in babies can often be caused by viruses such as rotavirus. In such cases, the priority must be consulting your paediatrician, making sure that the baby is rehydrated and the lastly feeding your baby with bananas, rice/cereal, apples and toast. This diet can be given for toddlers who are on solid or semi-solid diet. (Gordon, Sharkey, Mother and Baby Health)
- Supply of essential nutrients: Bananas are rich in nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium phosphorous, sulphur, iron and copper. These are essential nutrients which are needed during the initial months of baby’s development. Potassium is important for muscle function and for maintaining heart rhythm. Iron and copper on the other hand, are needed for good blood count and haemoglobin levels. Calcium is an essential for bone development. (Baby Center)
- Less allergic fruit: In various cases, food allergies arise out of such amino acids which are intolerable and indigestible for some people. Bananas on the other hand, contain simple or benign amino acids, that are mostly digestible. This makes bananas an ideal food for babies because of this easily digestible feature. (HK Bakhru, Foods That Heal)
- Good remedy for urinary disorders: Babies and toddlers are more prone to urinary tract infections. Symptoms might include fevers, frequent or infrequent urinations, strong or foul smelling urine, etc. Under such circumstances, apart from consulting a paediatrician, giving mashed up banana can also be beneficial. It is believed that banana can clean the urinary tract off the toxins that accumulate. (HK Bakhru, Foods That Heal)
- Banana peel for reducing skin inflammation: An unusual use of banana peel is that the inside of it can be rubbed on insect bites for relief. Very often, we can observe babies with inflammation from some or the other insect bites. In such cases, using a fresh banana peel can be helpful. It is also useful in removing tiny splinters from insects, which get lodged in the skin. (Ratna Rajaiah, How the Banana Goes to Heaven)
Word of caution while feeding your child with banana
Avoid feeding raw banana: Raw banana should not be given to your baby, as it is very hard to digest. Make sure that the bananas are yellow in colour without major black spots on them. Also make sure that the banana is firm and easily chewable. (HK Bakhru, Foods That Heal)
Do Bananas aggravate cold and cough?
Bananas can aggravate cough and cold and hence, it is better to avoid feeding banana to your baby, if he or she has cold and cough. The practice of feeding banana must also be avoided during winters and when there is an unexpected temperature drop all of a sudden. (Joshi, Nutrition & Dietetics).
What is the best time to feed bananas to babies?
Possibly, the best time to feed bananas to your baby can be during summer. As bananas can aid in temperature control during summers, it is the ideal time to feed bananas during that time. During other seasons, you can feed bananas, only during pleasant and sunny days and during day time. (Joshi, Nutrition & Dietetics)
Hope this article was of help for all our parents!! Please share your comments/queries/tips/ banana recipes with us and help us create a world full of Happy and Healthy Babies!!