Baby Superfood: Bananas
Bananas are a baby superfood that should be introduced as early as possible. Not only are they packed with nutrients like vitamin B6, potassium and fiber but they are key to your baby's digestion especially if you are going to be introducing cereal early on. We are going to go into some details why.
The Grain Dilemma
As a baby approaches the 6 month mark, their iron reserve will have been depleted and their mother's breastmilk no longer supplies sufficient amounts of iron to meet the baby's nutritional needs. For this reason, doctors in North America encourage cereals fortified with iron and doctors around the world encourage iron rich foods as a first food. Humans require the enzyme amylase to break down carbohydrates. Studies have shown that babies only start producing this enzyme in their saliva at around 4 months and only start fully producing it in their pancreas as they approach the 1 year mark. For this reason, there is a lot of debate going on as to whether grains should even be introduced under 1 year. To complicate things further, studies have also shown that children who avoided grains until 1 year are more prone to a wheat allergy. Luckily nature has a solution.
Bananas are loaded with the enzyme amylase and, consequently, make the ideal food to give alongside grains. We recommend giving a banana alongside cereal every morning to ensure that your baby starts the day with good digestion and is exposed to enough wheat to reduce the chances of an allergy developing. For the rest of the day, focus on choosing a protein with each meal that is high in iron. For snacks, try nutrient rich vegetables and fruits instead of Cheerios and bread. This will ensure that your baby builds up other essential vitamins and minerals. If your child doesn't like bananas and you are pumping, we recommend using your breastmilk with the cereal as it is also loaded with the amylase enzyme.
We recommend keeping an eye on your baby's digestion. If they start having diarrhea and/or have lots of painful gas, their system might not yet be mature enough to handle grains altogether or the quantity you are giving them. Sometimes waiting a couple more weeks can make all the difference. This applies to all new foods and is especially important if the baby was premature. If you are worried about your baby not getting enough iron, you can always have your child's iron levels tested and there is always the option to add a liquid supplement or to use a stage 2 iron fortified formula. Remember to always trust your best judgement and if something really doesn't seem to be working with your child's digestive system, bring it up with your doctor so that you can find another option that works.