Beans are a major source carbohydrates, protein and fiber. They are filled with important nutrients including iron, calcium, B vitamins and fiber that help nourish your baby's growing body. They can be mashed or pureed, or an older baby can enjoy them in their whole form. Unless your child has a bean or legume allergy, all beans are safe for babies to eat. Beans can be hard to digest, however, so don't introduce them too early.
A common ingredient in the cuisine of the American Southwest and Mexico, pinto beans have a super-creamy texture and can be eaten in their whole form for older babies or mashed up for younger babies. They are also a good source of iron, an important mineral in your baby's diet. Pinto beans are the traditional ingredient for refried beans, which are simply mashed-up pinto beans often mixed with spices. Pinto beans can be tossed in a stew or chili or served mashed up with veggie sticks or crackers.
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a good source of protein and fiber. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, a spicy spread often served with fresh vegetables and pita. They can often be a little more challenging to eat, so blending them into a spread is a great way to serve them to babies.
Black beans are high in calcium, potassium and phosphorus. When cooked they are soft and easy to eat in their whole form for older babies. For younger babies, they can be blended with a bit of water to make a spread or dip. Black beans, along with most other beans, can also be used as a base to make bean burgers, a perfect finger food for babies.
Tips for Preparing Beans
Because beans can be hard for the body to digest, introduce them once your baby's digestive system has been able to develop adequately, such as around 8 months. To help ease digestion, it is best to cook your beans well, allowing them to break down more easily. If you're cooking them from their dried state, soak them for 12 to 24 hours before cooking. Canned beans are also a quick and easy option; however, it is best to look for ones that contain no salt or are low in salt. Also, it is best to rinse your canned beans before serving.