Benefits of beans for babies. Are beans a good first food for babies? Here are some of their health benefits and how to introduce beans to babies.
Beans are one of the most accessible, nutritious, and easy-to-use foods out there – not to mention, they’re tasty! Here are some of the best benefits beans can offer to babies, including how to introduce them.
5 Benefits of Beans for Babies
There are many reasons why beans make a perfect staple food for families with young children.
1. Beans are a versatile food.
There are a number of ways to serve beans or incorporate them into meals for kids and adults alike.
Beans can be enjoyed on their own, with a bit of seasoning, mashed, or simply added to a variety of other recipes.
They can be added to rice and pasta dishes, soups, and salads. Beans can even be sprinkled on top of pizza and roasted nicely with other veggies. Blended beans can be a great component in hummus or spreads.
2. Beans are an inexpensive, high quality plant protein.
Whether you choose to buy canned beans or dry beans in bulk, both are inexpensive ways to stock your pantry with a high quality plant protein.
Below are some common bean varieties and how much protein is in a 1/2 cup serving:
- Kidney beans: 9 grams
- Black beans: 6 grams
- Pinto beans: 14 grams
- Great Northern beans: 16 grams
- Navy beans: 16 grams
Both canned and dry beans also tend to have long shelf lives. You might find it useful to purchase a variety of beans to have on hand, especially when they’re on sale.
3. Beans are full of vitamins and minerals.
Beans are packed with a variety of essential micronutrients for growing babes.
Just a 1/2 cup serving of black beans contains 25% of the Daily Value (DV) of iron. Beans are also a good source of folate, calcium, and potassium.
4. Beans are a perfect food for new eaters.
As your baby becomes accustomed to solid foods, beans can be introduced as a source of healthy protein.
Just be sure to serve them in an age appropriate consistency. For instance, chickpeas should be mashed for younger babes rather than served whole, due to their spherical shape.
We recommend sticking to well-cooked or softer varieties of beans until your baby has more teeth.
Cooked or canned beans can be mashed and spread onto slices of toast as part of baby-led weaning.
Your baby may even like them in their natural form, as a finger food, with a little seasoning sprinkled on them.
5. Beans may help prevent chronic diseases.
Research shows that beans are full of fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that may reduce the risk of disease later in life.
Regularly incorporating beans as part of an overall healthy diet has been associated with a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Studies have found that beans may lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar, and support immune function. They’re full of fiber, which is essential for gut health and digestion, and can help promote satiety.
Introducing beans to your baby early on in life may increase the likelihood that he or she will continue eating them later on, reaping these health benefits over the long term.
How to Introduce Beans to Babies
Beans can be incorporated into your new eater’s diet in a number of ways.
- Mashed and spread on toast
- Plain (cooked/canned) with cumin or nutritional yeast, lightly mashed if needed
- Mashed and mixed with salsa or avocado
- Made into a simple bean paste or hummus
- Combined with pasta, rice, or quinoa
- Mixed into falafels or veggie burgers
If you buy dry beans, it’s important to soak them accordingly before using in a recipe.
This can be done by covering them with water and soaking them overnight (or at least 4-12 hours). Drain and rinse them again before cooking.
Alternatively, a quick-soak method can be used. Cover the beans with water, bring them to a rapid boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat, cover them, and let them soak for one hour before rinsing and cooking.
If you purchase canned beans, drain and rinse them to remove any excess sodium before serving to your babe. We also suggest stocking up on no-salt-added versions whenever possible.
Family-Friendly Bean Recipes
There are so many ways to enjoy the benefits of beans. Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly recipes using beans.
- Instant Pot Vegan Baked Beans
- Slow Cooker Vegan Red Beans and Rice
- Vegetarian Bean Chili
- Sweet and Spicy Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas
There are so many benefits of beans for babies. They make a great food for new eaters and are easy to add to family-friendly meals. Try some of these tips and recipes if you’re wondering how to introduce beans to babies.
Chime In: Does your family enjoy beans? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of our others:
- Is Soy Healthy for Kids?
- How to Feed Tofu to Kids
- When Can Babies Have Nuts?
- How Do I Introduce My Baby to Allergenic Foods?
For more support and guidance around introducing foods to new eaters, grab your copy of our Ebook First Bites: The Definitive Guide to Baby-Led Weaning for Plant-Based Babies