When and How to Introduce Beans to Babies?

Beans for Babies – Benefits, Precautions and Recipes

Beans are considered to be a nutritional powerhouse by many, as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fibre, and protein. The health benefits of beans for your growing baby can be immense. Therefore, you may like to include beans in your baby’s diet when he is ready to make his transition from milk to solids. It may be wise to restrict the portion size served to babies in the beginning. Also, you may want to start with lentils, as they are easier to digest, and then gradually move on to other varieties of beans like black beans, garbanzo, pinto, etc. You can follow some simple recipes wherein the beans can be pureed or mashed when offering beans to your baby for the first time. To learn about the tips and tricks and the recipes for beans for babies, continue reading the post.

When to Introduce Beans to Your Baby?

So, when can babies eat beans? Most doctors recommend initiating the shift from only milk to the systematic introduction of solids in a baby’s diet when the baby turns 6 months old. However, it may not be a great idea to choose beans as a baby’s first solid food, as his immature digestive system might find it hard to break down beans, and he is likely to experience flatulence and indigestion. You may present beans to your baby when his digestive system is better adapted to accept new solid foods, which can be anytime from 8 months to 1 year old. Also, you can refer to your doctor for guidance in case of any lingering doubts.

When to Introduce Beans to Your Baby

Nutritional Profile of Beans

The nutritional properties vary based on the type of bean. Here, we have taken raw green beans as a reference.

Nutrient Amount (100 grams)
Energy 31 kcal
Carbohydrates 6.97 grams
Proteins 1.83 grams
Total Fat 0.22 grams
Dietary Fibre 2.7 grams
Sugar 3.26 grams
Calcium 37 milligrams
Iron 1.04 milligrams
Niacin 0.752 grams
Thiamin 0.084 milligrams
Sodium 6 milligrams
Magnesium 25 milligrams

 Source: USDA

What Are the Health Benefits of Beans for Infants?

The health benefits of beans for babies include:

1. Help in Filling the Tummy

Some beans, like chickpeas, are rich in protein and fibre and promote a feeling of fullness. This can prevent overfeeding when giving them to your baby.

2. Improve Digestion

Kidney beans and chickpeas have a high fibre content. This can help in improving the digestive system of your baby.

3. Strengthen the Immune System

Beans, like soybeans, are rich in Vitamin C and build the immune system of your baby. They protect your baby from falling prey to common ailments like cold, cough, or flu. They also assist in controlling free radicals and, thus, immunize your baby’s overall health.

4. Proper Development

Beans, like kidney beans, are a high source of folate, which can help foster the growth of red blood cells in babies, thereby encouraging the normal development and functioning of the vital organs. Babies also require folate for the healthy progression of their brain.

Proper Development

5. Improve Metabolism

Beans, like black beans, are teeming with antioxidants, like alkaloids, flavonoids, and anthocyanin, which can help destroy the free radicals generated during metabolism in a baby’s body. Neutralising the free radicals is vital as they can harm the body’s cells and, at times, even the DNA.

6. Help in Proper Bowel Movement

Beans contain high amounts of dietary fibre, which can contribute to regulating a baby’s bowel movements and preventing digestive issues like constipation. Dietary fibre also plays an important role in flushing impurities out of the large intestine and, thus, defending the baby’s body against diseases. However, serve beans in small amounts, or they may cause gas and bloating.

7. Muscle Formation

Beans, like soybeans, have high amounts of protein which can help in muscle growth. This becomes even more important for those parents who don’t wish to give their children meat.

Which Beans Are Good for Babies?

The following varieties of beans may be good for babies:

1. Pinto Beans

Pinto beans are rich in iron and, therefore, can be very advantageous for babies. Pinto beans have a creamy consistency and can be consumed by older babies in their whole form. For younger babies, it is better to mash them before consumption. Pureed pinto beans mixed with some spices are called refried beans. Refried beans with rice can form a wholesome meal for a baby.

Pinto beans

2. Chickpeas

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are one of the best beans for your baby. They have a high content of calcium and folic acid, which is required by a baby for strengthening the bones, brain build-up and blood formation. Chickpeas are high in zinc, iron, protein, Vitamin K and fibre, which may accelerate the good health of babies.

Chickpeas

3. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans for babies can be nourishing as they are full of iron, fibre and protein. Also, babies can easily chew them as they are soft. Both the lighter and darker variations are a good option. You can go in for cannellini beans or white kidney beans as well.

Kidney beans

4. Black Beans

Black beans can make for nutritious meals for babies as they possess exceptional amounts of protein, fibre and other key minerals and vitamins like calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium, which can benefit a baby’s health.

Black beans

How Much Beans Can Babies Eat?

You can start by introducing one to two tablespoons of pureed beans in a day. Once your little one completes eight months, you can increase the volume to two tablespoons of mashed beans once a day. After 12 months, your little toddler is ready to consume two tablespoons of cooked beans twice a day.

Best Way to Prepare and Cook Beans

If you are wondering how to prepare beans for your baby, then you are at the right place. Most mothers often ask how to cook beans for babies. So here are a few wonderful ways to prepare beans for your baby:

  • Chickpeas can be pureed to form tasty hummus, which is easy for the baby to consume.
  • Puree and blend some boiled black beans with pressure-cooked sweet potato. Add a drop of melted ghee and feed your baby this healthy bean puree.
  • Mashed-up pinto beans can be added to your baby’s stew.
  • You can combine some cooked green beans with rice to create a balanced dish for your baby.
  • Roughly mash some beans, mix in some natural yoghurt, and feed it to your baby.
  • Blend pureed chickpeas or pinto beans with pureed carrots and cooked tomatoes to prepare a yummy baby meal.
  • Crush some boiled black beans and mix with cooked bits of salmon, tuna or sardines for a healthful, easy baby meal.

Healthy Bean Recipes for Babies

There are plenty of healthy recipes of beans for babies that are easy to prepare. Some healthy bean recipes for babies can be:

1. Basic Green Bean Puree

You may be required to make this basic puree for several green bean recipes for baby food.

Green beans puree

Ingredients

  • A pound of green beans (fresh)

Directions

  • Properly clean the green beans.
  • Steam them by using very little water until they are tender.
  • Transfer the steamed beans to a blender and puree them to the desired consistency.
  • Add water if required. Use a sieve to discard the hulls if necessary.

2. Green Beans With Rice

Your baby is sure to find this colourful meal appealing.

Green beans with rice

Ingredients

  • Steamed green beans
  • A red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • A yellow bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • An onion (finely chopped)
  • A clove of garlic (minced)
  • Butter
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Warm butter in a pan over low heat.
  • Add the onions, garlic, steamed green beans and bell peppers.
  • Sauté the mixture until bell peppers turn soft. Sprinkle the pepper.
  • Serve pureed with rice.

3. Creamy Sweet Potato and Bean Puree

This creamy sweet potato and bean puree is a nutrient-rich puree perfect for little babies older than 6 months.

Creamy Sweet Potato and Bean Puree

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup boiled pinto beans
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil

Directions

  • Properly wash the pinto beans and boil them until fork tender.
  • Bake the sweet potato until it is fork-tender, and let it sit aside to cool.
  • Blend boiled pinto beans and sweet potato in a blender or a food processor until they get a creamy texture with no lumps left.
  • Heat a pan and add 1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the blended mix. Cook the puree for 15 to 20 minutes and let it off the heat.
  • Your creamy sweet potato and bean puree is ready!

Precautions to Take While Feeding Beans to a Baby

Certain precautions you may like to observe while feeding beans to a baby can be:

  • Serve beans in small quantities to babies, as the high levels of protein and fibre content can cause gas and indigestion.
  • It is advisable to mash or puree the beans when offering them to younger babies, as feeding the whole bean can pose a choking risk.
  • Alternatively, you can choose beans without the pods until your baby is ready to chew the pods.
  • Opt for cooked dried beans instead of canned beans, as they tend to contain preservatives and excessive sodium. In case you want to use canned beans, make sure to rinse them thoroughly to get rid of the extra sodium or look for a low-sodium variety.
  • Beans are usually considered safe for babies. However, it is always sensible to monitor your baby for possible allergic reactions when introducing beans initially.
  • Introduce beans to your baby in a pureed form and then gradually move to the mashed and finger food versions.
  • Do not use softening agents like baking soda to cook beans for your little one. This could expose them to unnecessary sodium.
  • Avoid serving string beans to your baby in the early months. 

FAQs

1. What are some alternatives to beans for babies?

Beans are one of the top choices of protein sources. However, if your little one does not like the taste of it and you don’t want them to skimp on the nutrition, you can feed them cooked, pureed, or mashed tofu, chicken, or beef.

2. Are leftover beans safe for babies?

It is okay to use leftover beans for babies for a few days if they are stored well in the refrigerator. Although it is best advised to prepare beans for babies fresh. 

3. How can I preserve leftover beans for my baby?

It is advised to store the leftover beans in an airtight container in a refrigerator to lock out bacterial contamination. You can freeze beans in small portions and thaw those small portions individually every time you need them. Remember to thaw the freezer beans in the refrigerator for a night before cooking them.

4. Do beans cause colic in babies?

No scientific evidence states that beans cause colic in babies. However, it is important to note that beans can cause gas in babies. Therefore, while introducing your little one to beans, start with small amounts and check for their reaction. If they respond well, you can gradually increase the portion as they grow.

Beans, with their well-balanced combination of nutrients, can favourably contribute to the ideal growth and development of your baby.

References/Resources:

1. Beans, snap, green, raw; USDA; https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169961/nutrients

2. Ask the Expert: Legumes and Resistant Starch; Harvard T.H. Chan; https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/11/16/ask-the-expert-legumes-and-resistant-starch

3. Menu planning for babies; Healthy Eating Advisory Service; https://heas.health.vic.gov.au/resources/plan-a-menu/menu-planning-for-babies/

4. Bellows. L, Clark, A, Moore. R; Introducing Solid Foods to Infants – 9.358; Colorado State University; https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/introducing-solid-foods-to-infants-9-358/

5. Choking Prevention; University of Michigan; https://www.mottchildren.org/posts/your-child/choking-prevention

6. All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus; North Dakota State University; https://www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/extension/publications/all-about-beans-nutrition-health-benefits-preparation-and-use-menus

7. Serving Sizes for Toddlers; American Academy of Pediatrics; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Serving-Sizes-for-Toddlers.aspx

Also Read: 

Cabbage for Babies
Introduce Green Beans to Babies
Health Benefits of Potatoes for Babies

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