When Can Babies Eat Beans?

Eating the Musical Fruit

Beans are high in fiber, protein and nutrients, and they make a great puree for toddlers once their stomachs are mature enough to handle the fiber.

Beans are good for your heart, and once your baby is old enough, they're good for him too. After babies have a few first foods under their belts, their stomachs become a bit more mature and more used to eating table food. At around 7 to 10 months, most babies are ready to try well-cooked smashed beans, peas and other legumes.

Why Beans?

Beans are a nutritional powerhouse, containing a healthy combination of fiber, protein and nutrients. All of that fiber can cause fussiness or gas if babies aren't ready for it, which is why experts recommend introducing beans once babies have experience with some easier foods first. Lentils are a smaller bean that tends to be easier on the stomach, so many parents start with those and then move on to pinto, garbanzo or black beans as their babies seem ready.

Preparing and Cooking Beans

When you introduce your baby to beans, you will want to feed her cooked beans that are either smashed or well pureed. Before cooking your beans, spread them out on a towel or in a bowl to check for stones and other debris. Dry beans will cook faster if you soak them in water for a few hours or overnight first, but if planning ahead isn't your strong suit, you can cook them in water until they squish easily between your thumb and finger. If you want to use canned beans, buy the low-sodium variety, and rinse them in a strainer before you heat them up. This will prevent your baby from getting more salt than she is ready to handle. Smash the cooled beans into a rough mash or put them in a blender with water for a smoother puree, depending on what your baby prefers.

Cautions

Although whole cooked beans may look like a great finger food, their size and texture can make them a choking hazard. Always mash or puree beans before you give them to your baby, and use water if you need to thin them down to a texture your baby can manage. If baby has trouble with the skins on beans, either puree them more thoroughly, remove the skins from cooked beans before you mash them, or try beans with thinner skins, such as lentils. Like any other new food, introduce mashed beans alone or with foods that your child is already used to eating so that you can monitor for allergies and other reactions.

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