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Beans are terrific first foods for babies! Here’s how to cook and serve to your baby along with plenty of recipes to help make introducing beans easy and fun!

a six image collage of baby friendly bean recipes, including cookies, dips, and muffins.
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When can babies eat beans?

If cooked to soft, beans can be offered to babies as soon as they’re ready to start solids, usually around 6 months. It’s important to remember that your baby is unique and that rather than going by the calendar, you need to make sure your baby is DEVELOPMENTALLY ready to start solids.

If you’re unsure, be sure to grab my FREE handout!

Health Benefits

a chart showing iron and zinc levels of lentils, chickpeas, peas, edamame, black beans, and kidney beans

Beans are classified as a legume (also called pulses), along with peanuts, peas, and lentils. This is a family that packs a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition.

Beans are SO great for babies! They are loaded with the essential nutrients babies need to grow and thrive, including iron, zinc, folate, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.

Be sure to pair them with vitamin C rich foods to greatly enhance the absorption of iron!

And while colorful fruits and vegetables are considered to be the best source of phytonutrients, beans are also a great source for these antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other health-promoting compounds.

Related: Best Iron-Rich Foods for Babies and Toddlers

Do beans make babies gassy?

Foods that are rich in fiber tend to cause gas. This list includes beans, cruciferous vegetables, oatmeal, prunes, peaches, and pears.

There’s no need to avoid these foods completely as they offer so many beneficial nutrients that are essnetial for proper growth and development.

Not to mention, early introduction to a wide variety of flavors and textures is key in minimizing picky eating down the road.

Start by offering a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) and gradually serve more.

If your baby becomes gassy but doesn’t seem to be in discomfort, there’s no reason to worry. If your baby gets extra gassy after eating a certain bean, just don’t overload them with those foods. You can also try different varieties as your baby may do better with certain beans than others.

For instance, my baby did well with all the beans that were served except for black beans. But after about 3 exposures, she seemed to tolerate just fine.

Are beans safe for babies?

Depending on the size and shape, beans can pose a choking risk. To reduce the risk, smash/flatten them, removing any skin that comes off. And follow the age-based serving suggestions shared below.

If you’re cooking the beans rather than using canned, make sure they are soft and easily smushed between your thumb and forefinger.

It’s also very important that you ALWAYS serve food at the table where your baby is sitting upright at a 90 degree angle. Even foods that aren’t considered to choking hazards can be dangerous if given while baby is lying down, crawling, walking, etc.

In regards to allergies, soybeans are one of the top allergens so be sure to introduce them separately. While it’s not impossible, an allergy to the rest of the beans is rare.

What to do when baby won’t eat

Types of Beans- which one is best?

Did you know that there are nearly 400 types of beans?! Here are the most common ones that you’re likely to find at the stores.

  • Black Beans
  • Black eyed peas
  • Cannellini beans (or white Italian kidney beans)
  • Edamame
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans

ALL beans are fantastic for babies. I highlighted the two essential nutrients during the first year in the chart above, and as you can see, they are pretty similar in their nutritional profile.

VARIETY is always best so give some love to as many beans as you can ;).

But what about the antinutrients?

It’s true that legumes contain antinutrients, such as phytic acid, lectins, saponins, and tannins, that reduce the absorption of certain nutrients, including iron, zinc, and calcium. 

However, many other healthy foods, like grains, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds all contain antinutrients. So does this mean we should limit or avoid them? Of course not.

Instead, always aim for variety and balance! Unless beans are all you are serving to your baby, the benefits outweigh the risks of consuming antinutrients. 

Not to mention soaking and cooking will decrease the amount of antinutrients significantly.

All this to say, DON’T WORRY!

Soaking Beans

black beans soaked overnight in a large white bowl.
after soaking for 8 hours overnight

While it’s an extra step, I highly recommend soaking. It will not only decrease cooking time but will also help the beans cook more evenly and make them easier to digest.

The beans will expand upon soaking so be sure to take this into account when choosing the size of the bowl.

Overnight soaking

Place dried beans in a large bowl, cover with water by 2 inches, discard any that float, and soak on the counter, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.

If soaking for more than 8 hours, transfer to the refrigerator. Drain and rinse before using.

Quick soaking

On the stove- Add beans to a pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let soak for an hour. Drain and rinse before cooking.

Cooking Methods

Besides being nutrient dense, beans are inexpensive and last a long time in the pantry (hallelujah!).

Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to:

  • Sort through the beans to remove any debris or shriveled beans.
  • Rinse under running cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt

Cooking times will vary depending on the variety, age of the beans, and even the type of water you use. If your water has a lot of calcium, it can increase the time.

I’ve provided approximate cooking times. I encourage you to start checking for doneness at the beginning of the time range and then every 15 minutes thereafter.

Be sure to jot down the final cooking times somewhere for future reference.

On the Stove

a close up shot of black beans cooked on the stove.
  1. Add beans to a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water.
  2. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer, with lid slightly open, until tender.
  3. Stir occasionally. Do NOT try to rush the process by cranking up the heat. You will end up with a mushy exterior and undercooked interior.

Low and steady for best results! Add more water as needed so that the beans stay submerged.

It will generally take about 1-2 hours to cook. Start checking for doneness after an hour.

Slow Cooker

Cover beans with 2 inches of water. Set to low and cook for 6-8 hours.

Note – Kidney beans in particular contain a large amount of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin (or kidney bean lectins) that doesn’t get destroyed when cooked in the slow cooker. That’s because the temperature never gets hot enough.

Therefore, be sure to soak and then boil for at least 10 minutes before adding to the slow cooker.

Instant Pot

Add beans to Instant pot and cover with water to about 2 inches above the beans. Stir, close the lid, and cook on high pressure for 8-15 minutes.

Allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes.

Here are the cooking times for the beans I cook most often:

  • Black beans: 8-10 minutes
  • Cannellini: 8-10 minutes
  • Chickpeas: 13-15 minutes

Related: Chickpeas for babies with recipes

Canned Beans

While dried beans are less expensive, canned ones are so convenient and great time-savers since they are fully cooked. They are just as nutritious as the dried beans.

I used to cook them all the time, but now that I’m a mom of two, I will take all the help I can get!

Be sure to look for ones that are labeled “no salt added” or “low sodium” and that come with non-BPA lining. Rinsing them in running water can lower the sodium content even more.

How to Serve Beans to Babies (Baby Led Weaning)

I could do a whole post on this as beans go well with so many different foods and flavors! Here are some EASY and nutritious ways to add them into your baby’s diet.

6-9 months old:

a six image collage showing all the different ways of serving beans to babies, including dips, pasta sauce, veggie sticks, tofu balls, and muffins.

You can try serving whole beans. Just be sure to flatten using your fingers or the back of a fork, removing any loose skin in the process. But if this makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it! I am a big believer in know all things and then follow your heart.

You can also puree/blend or mash. The consistency is pretty thick and dry so add some breastmilk/formula to thin it out.

And here are some fun and EASY ways to boost nutrition and introduce your baby to a ton of flavors and texture in one bite. Add beans to:

Pictured above are the exact meals I served to my baby during her first month of starting solids. I actually filmed EVERYTHING I made for her as well as my toddler, husband, and me from Day 1 to Day 84 (so 3 months) in real time and turned it into an easy to access and follow program!

9+ months old:

A four image collage with beans mixed into sweet potatoes, casserole, soup, and pasta sauce.

I encourage you to continue offering mixed foods before your baby becomes more selective. If they’ve never had foods touching and mixed together, it will be much harder to get them to eat these later on. 

I’ve included plenty of family-friendly meals to help get you started! Continue to flatten chickpeas and all other round varieties.

If you haven’t already, this is a good time to introduce utensils (linked our favorites).

12+ months old:

toddler lunchbox with quinoa cakes, hard boiled egg, sliced apples, zucchini, and red kidney beans.

Anything goes at this age! My personal favorite is adding whole beans to my son’s school lunch boxes. SOO easy and convenient.

Related: Lunchbox Ideas for Preschool

Bean Recipes for Babies and Toddlers

Dips/ Sauce

Finger Foods

Lunch/Dinner

Frequently Asked Questions

Are beans hard for babies to digest?

While highly nutritious, they contain a lot of fiber, which can cause gas and diarrhea, if given in large portions. Therefore, when first introducing, start with 1-2 tablespoons and increase depending on your baby’s response.

Can I season beans for babies?

Yes yes yes! Season away! I highly advise you to have fun with all kinds of herbs and spices. It’s such an easy way to invite variety and flavor, without the use of salt.

Can babies eat beans everyday?

They can. But since offering a wide variety of flavors and textures is so crucial at this stage, be sure to switch it up by incorporating any of the serving suggestions I’ve provided above.

How much does 1 pound of dried beans make once cooked?

You will end up with around 6 cups of cooked beans, which is equivalent to 4 (15 ounce) cans. This is why cooking at home is much more economical.

How to Store Cooked Beans

In the refrigerator

You can transfer to an airtight container/jar with or without the cooking water.

I’ve found that storing along with the liquid prevents the skins from drying out, but it’s really up to you. If you intend to use for soup, the liquid also adds a nice yum factor.

Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

In the freezer

I recommend freezing in 1 1/2 cup portions. A lot of recipes call for a 15 ounce can, which is roughly around 1 1/2 cups.

If freezing with the cooking liquid, be sure to leave about 1 inch at the top for expansion.

Freeze for up to 3 months.

Two glass containers with black beans and cooking liquid.

If freezing with the cooking liquid, be sure to leave about 1 inch at the top for expansion.

baby led feeding journey program cover

Do you want to minimize picky eating and set a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits?

Check out this 3 month mastering self-feeding program! It’s the closest thing to me being in your kitchen

Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!

5 from 7 votes

Cooking Beans for Babies (3 Methods)

Beans are terrific first foods for babies! Here are three methods for cooking dried beans.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
soaking time: 8 hours
Servings: 12 (makes about 6 cups)
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Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound (2 cups) dried beans
  • Water or broth, see note

Instructions 

Prepare the Beans

  • Sort through the beans to remove any debris or shriveled beans. Soak overnight or quick soak. Drain and rinse well.

On the Stove

  • Soak for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse.
  • Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook, covered with lid slightly ajar,. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
  • It will generally take about 1-2 hours to cook. Start checking for doneness after an hour. Continue cooking until beans are tender.

Slow Cooker

  • Place beans in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover beans with water. Close the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours. See note if using red kidney beans.

Instant Pot

  • Add beans to the Instant Pot. Cover with water and stir. Close the lid, making sure to turn the steam release valve to the sealing position.
  • Set the cook time using the Pressure Cook or Manual button, at high pressure. Keep in mind the IP will take about 15-20 minutes to reach pressure before cooking begins.
  • Cook for 8-15 minutes, depending on the variety. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes. This will help beans retain their shape and avoids the liquid from foaming up into the steam valve.
  • If you find that beans are not as soft as you want them to be, put the lid back on, making sure the release valve is set back to "sealing" and cook at high pressure for several more minutes.

Notes

  • Cover with beans with about 2 inches of water.
  • When cooking beans for the first time, start checking for doneness at the start of the cook time range. Write it down for future reference.
  • If cooking kidney beans in the slow cooker, be sure to soak and then boil for at least 10 minutes before adding to the slow cooker to make them easier to digest.
  • To store:
    • In the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container with or without the cooking liquid.
    • In the freezer: recommend freezing in 1 1/2 cup portions. Freeze for up to 3 months.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 2mg
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About Min

Thank you so much for stopping by! I am Min, a Registered Dietitian, a Christ follower, a wife, and a mom to our two miracle babies! Currently, I’m having a ton of fun feeding their tummies and sharing our baby led weaning journey! Follow me on Instagram if interested in seeing daily menu as well as tips and tricks.

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