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Beans are considered to be a nutritional powerhouse by many as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, 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.
When to Introduce Beans to Your Baby?
Most doctors recommend initiating the shift from only milk to 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.
Nutritional Profile of Beans
The nutritional properties vary based on the type of bean. Here, we have taken green beans as a reference.
|Nutrient||Amount (100 grams)|
|Total Fat||0.34 grams|
|Dietary Fibre||3.4 grams|
What Are the Health Benefits of Beans for Infants?
The health benefits of beans for babies include:
1. Help Control Appetite
Some beans, like chickpeas, are rich in protein and fibre. Studies prove that they help reduce appetite and promote a feeling of fullness. This can prevent overfeeding when giving them to your baby.
2. Improve Digestion
Kidney beans and chickpeas have high fibre content. This can help in improving the digestive system of your baby.
3. Strengthen the Immune System
Beans, like soybean, 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.
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 prevent digestive issues, like constipation and bloating. Healthy bowel movements may help boost a baby’s appetite. Dietary fibre also plays an important role in flushing impurities out of the large intestine and thus, defending the baby’s body against diseases. Kidney beans or rajma is a bean that is rich in fibre.
7. Muscle Formation
Beans, like soybean, 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.
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans 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.
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.
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, magnesium which can benefit a baby’s health.
Best Way to Prepare and Cook Beans
Mothers often ask how to cook beans for baby. 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 beans 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.
- Try offering a mix of black beans and bite-sized avocado or any fruit of your baby’s liking rolled in some yoghurt to your baby. It makes for tasty finger food 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
Some healthy bean recipes for babies can be:
1. Minty Green Bean Salad
This recipe is not only easy to make but also very nourishing for your baby.
- Steamed green beans
- ¼ cup natural yoghurt
- Mint leaves (few, finely chopped)
- Puree the steamed green beans in a blender to a texture preferred by your baby.
- Add the yoghurt and the mint leaves, and combine well.
- Serve as a cold snack or a warm meal.
2. Basic Green Bean Puree
You may require to make this basic puree for several green bean recipes for baby food.
- A pound of green beans (fresh)
- 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.
3. Green Beans with Rice
Your baby is sure to find this colourful meal appealing.
- Steamed green beans
- A red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
- A yellow bell pepper (thinly sliced)
- An onion (finely chopped)
- A clove of garlic (minced)
- Pepper to taste
- 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.
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.
Beans with their well-balanced combination of nutrients can favourably contribute to the ideal growth and development of your baby.