These nutrient-packed delicious mini banana muffins are the perfect snack for your baby who is learning how to self-feed!
When I remember back to when I had babies learning how to start solids, I always had a steady supply of homemade muffins and teething biscuits to pull from when I needed a quick and easy snack to feed. As a registered dietitian, it was (and is) important to me that these snacks were nutritious and offered certain important nutrients for growth and development. Did I feed my baby processed baby foods? Yes. Of course – I’m also a realist! But most of the time, I did try to make my own so that I could control what was in them!
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The importance of iron for babies
One of the important nutrients that I’m talking about is iron. Iron is essential for general health, growth, and development, and it carries oxygen to the body’s tissues, keeping cells healthy and functioning optimally. It also helps the brain and nerves develop properly—obviously critical for our little ones! If iron levels dip low enough, it can lead to iron-deficient anemia, a condition in which the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells (these are the cells that carry oxygen throughout the body).
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Iron is really important for babies, especially at around 6 months of age, because the their iron stores that they built up in the womb have depleted and they need to get iron from foods. This is part of the reason why we suggest introducing solids around 6 months of age. Whether or not your baby’s first food is an iron-rich choice is less of a concern (you can start with pretty much any nutritious food you’d like!), but once you’ve started, you should be offering iron-rich foods 2-3 times a day. Iron-rich foods include meats, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and iron-fortified infant cereals.
These banana muffins are perfect for baby led weaning
It’s recommended now that right from 6 months of age, babies are offered a variety of tastes and textures of food. Some parents choose to let baby self-feed finger foods exclusively (a method called Baby-Led Weaning), and others choose to feed both purees (via spoon) as well as soft, safe finger foods recipes (this is what I did, and recommend!). The important factor in either case, is that baby is exposed to a variety of textures from 6-9 months, and that all feeding is baby-led, meaning that you are following baby’s cues 100% (no airplane trick here!).
Mini muffins are the perfect finger food for babies because they’re the right size (big enough to grab with their palm) and the right textures (they’re soft and a bit crumbly!). You can also make these regular sized muffins, but I think minis make the most sense! To boost the iron content of these muffins (because muffins aren’t really an iron-rich choice), I added 1 cup of iron-fortified infant cereal to replace some of the flour! These muffins don’t have added sugar because added sugar isn’t recommended or needed before the age of 2. Plus, they’re naturally sweet enough with the mashed banana!