Black Beans | 6 mos+ |🥇💪💩🌱

Updated: May 19


Variously known as turtle beans or frijoles negros, black beans have been a staple of Latin cuisine for thousands of years. Black beans contain a lot of nutrients – but it might surprise you to discover that, according to research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, black beans are as rich in antioxidants as grapes and cranberries – and have 10 times as much as oranges!


DISCLAIMER: Each child has their own development timeline and specific needs. The content below is general information and for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional one-on-one advice. You are responsible for supervising your child’s health and for evaluating the appropriateness of the information below for your child. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding support or advice for your child's well being and health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.

Contents

1. When can I give black beans to my baby?

2. Is black bean a healthy food for babies?

2.1. The importance of black beans for a vegetarian baby

3. Is black bean a safe food for babies?

4. Is black beans a choking hazard for babies?

5. Is black bean a top food allergen for babies?

6. How to buy black beans for babies

7. How to store black beans

8. How to prepare and offer black beans to babies

8.1. Purees

8.2. Finger food 6 to 9 months old

8.3. Finger food 9 to 12 months old

8.5. Finger food 12+ months old

9. Black bean meal ideas for babies

10. Recipes


When can I give black beans to my baby?

Babies can eat black beans (and other legumes for that matter) as soon as they are ready to start eating solid foods, which is usually when they are around 6 months of age and have met all the readiness signs for solids, unless otherwise advised by your baby's health care provider.


Gastrointestinal issues, like gassiness, may occur in sensitive infants during the first few times of consuming beans. However, it should not be a concern if your baby is healthy and not in any discomfort.


Soaking beans for at least four hours before cooking and feeding in small quantities may help reduce gassiness.


Is black bean a healthy food for babies?

Variously known as turtle beans or frijoles negros, black beans have been a staple of Latin cuisine for thousands of years. Black beans contain a lot of nutrients – but it might surprise you to discover that, according to research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, black beans are as rich in antioxidants as grapes and cranberries – and have 10 times as much as oranges!


Antioxidants, as you may know, play an important part in protecting the body against diseases like cancer and also support heart health. Studies on a variety of legumes have revealed that the DARKER the beans, the MORE antioxidants they contain… so it stands to reason that black beans are the richest source of all!


Black beans also provide key nutrients for a growing child, including protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, iron, and potassium. This plant-based protein and iron-rich food can be a valuable addition to your baby’s diet, especially in aiding in the prevention of iron-deficiency anemia. Anemia is a common problem in children around the world. The U.S. prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in children one to five years of age is estimated to be 1% to 2% according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).


Iron is also needed for the brain to develop and function properly – a lack of iron during infancy can have a huge impact on the ability to learn later in life.


Fun fact: Because of their well-rounded combination of nutrients, beans were called out by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a “unique food,” one that can be considered both a vegetable and a protein food.


The nutrient composition of beans varies from one another. Hence, adding a variety of beans in the diet is the best way to ensure optimum nutrient intake.


The importance of black beans for a vegetarian baby

If your baby will be following a vegetarian diet, then there are two reasons why black beans will be particularly useful!

  • Served with a whole grain, like brown rice or whole wheat pasta, black beans provide protein equivalent to that found in meat.

  • Black beans tend to be very dense, making them an ideal meat replacement in terms of texture, as well as nutrition.


Is black bean a safe food for babies?

Foodborne botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by eating foods that are contaminated with the disease‑causing toxin. You cannot see, smell, or taste botulinum toxin – but taking even a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly.

Botulism poisoning from commercially canned foods has been virtually eliminated in the United States because those products are heated long enough and to high enough temperatures to kill the spores that otherwise can grow and produce the toxin.


Nowadays, cases of foodborne botulism poisoning from canned goods are usually linked to home-canned foods. Also, food packaged in defective cans, including those with leaky seams, can become contaminated because the bacteria can be sucked into the containers as the product cools.


If using canned black beans, in order to keep your baby safe, offer only commercially canned ones. And do not eat or feed beans from cans that show these warning signs:

  • Bulging

  • Leaking

  • Denting at the seam or rim (which can allow air or harmful bacteria to enter the can)

Foods with those warning signs may not look spoiled, but they can still have bacteria that can make you or your baby sick. When in doubt, throw it out!

When purchasing canned beans or other preserved products, also be careful with BPA (Bisphenol A). This is a chemical used in plastics and resins and in the interior lining of cans, amongst many other packaging materials. BPA should be avoided, as it has been linked to cellular damage, including disrupting your baby’s endocrine (hormone) functions, affecting growth in many ways. So look for cans or pouches that are marked “BPA-free.”


Is black bean a choking hazard for babies?

Black beans are not listed on CDC's list of most common choking hazards for babies. However, if your baby is still learning how to chew and is swallowing well, or if you're not comfortable offering the whole bean, you can squash the beans a little bit to make them easier to handle. Our little ones have always coped with the whole bean – skin and all – but you can slip the skin off before serving, if you prefer. The skin can cling to the back of the throat and cause some coughing and be bothersome. As always, just follow your baby's lead and your level of comfort.


This workshop covers everything you need to know for dealing with gagging, reducing the risk of choking during mealtimes, and offering safe food sizes and shapes to your child.



Note: Keep in mind that any food can present a risk for choking if not prepared correctly. You are responsible for following age and food modification guidelines provided in order to reduce your baby’s risk for choking.

Is black bean a top food allergen for babies?

Black beans aren’t listed as a common allergen, however it’s worth noting that they come under the legume ‘umbrella.’ This means they are related to soybeans, which ARE considered to be allergenic. Different legumes can be processed and packed in the same environment or equipment, which can cause cross-contamination. If your baby is allergic to soy, then please discuss the introduction of black beans and other legumes with your child’s doctor.


Black beans and other legumes may not be suitable for babies with G6PD Deficiency – please see this page for more information.


Whenever you give your baby black beans (or other foods) for the first time, offer it in small quantities, and watch for any signs of a reaction. If your baby seems to tolerate the food well and you see no adverse reaction, then continue to gradually increase portion sizes when you offer it again to your baby. If your baby shows any symptoms like diarrhea, skin hives, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, swelling of mouth, weakness, or dizziness after the consumption of black beans, consult your healthcare provider. These symptoms can be a sign of black bean allergy or intolerance.



Note: Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding introducing solid foods to your baby, and specifically discuss any foods that may pose allergy risks for your baby.


How to buy black beans for babies

Black beans are generally available dried or canned. We recommend using the dried variety whenever possible, because they are cheaper than canned black beans; you can prepare them without salt for your baby; and you can take steps when cooking them to reduce the potential for causing gassiness (canned beans won’t have undergone these extra steps during the cooking process). See the session below "How to prep and offer" to learn more about how you can reduce gassiness related to consuming beans.


Nevertheless, canned baked beans make an acceptable alternative, if you prefer to use them – they’re convenient and very similar in nutritional value to the dried-then-cooked-at-home variety!


Do watch out for the salt content, though, and either buy a salt-free/low sodium brand, or give the beans a good rinse before use. Studies show that rinsing canned foods in water can remove up to 40% of its sodium content. Look for brands with 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.


How to store black beans

Dried black beans can be kept in an airtight container, in a cool place, for up to 12 months. Once you’ve cooked them, cover and refrigerate within two hours of cooking. You should use cooked beans within 48 hours, either by serving them or freezing them for future use. Dried beans that have been cooked can be kept covered in the fridge for 5-7 days or frozen for up to 6 months.


Unopened canned beans last for up to a year in the cupboard. Look at the best “before date” on the can. After opening and rinsing canned beans, store in a glass or plastic air tight container in the fridge, not in the opened can. They will keep for 3-4 days. You can also freeze opened canned beans for 1-2 months. Label with a date and store beans in an airtight container made for freezing food or wrapped tightly in heavy foil.


Label with a date and store beans in an airtight container made for freezing food or wrapped tightly in heavy foil.


How to prepare and offer black beans to babies

To safely prepare and offer black beans to your baby first cook dried beans as usual, or if using canned beans, rinse them well under cool water to remove as much salt as possible. Add spices you like (leave salt and sugar out). Make sure they are cooked to a soft consistency that passes the “squish test” (you’re able to easily smash between your fingers). See size and shape suggestions below.


The 12-Week First Foods Challenge cuts through the fluff and gives you exactly what you need to know to feed your baby in the first year. Feeding schedules, quick and easy food prep guidelines, demo videos, answers to the most common questions about starting solids, and recipes suitable for the whole family… all in one place!

Purees: Start by introducing 1 to 2 tablespoons of cooked, mashed beans. Mash the beans to the consistency your child can handle and enjoys. If your child likes more texture, simply use a fork or potato masher and leave the beans chunky. If your child prefers smoother textures, a food processor or blender will work well. Note that when you smash or purée beans some of the skins will likely remain. The skin can be particularly bothersome for young eaters, as it can cling to the back of the throat and cause a lot of coughing. To minimize leftover skins, try puréeing the beans with some breast milk or formula. Offer puree via spoon feeding or by preloading a baby spoon and placing it on baby’s tray or hand so they can bring to mouth independently.



Don't get stuck on purees! It's completely ok to start with only pureed foods, if that feels more comfortable to you. However, keep in mind that purees are just a transitional phase into finger foods. It shouldn't last for more than a few days or a couple of weeks. Aim to start exposing your baby to lumpy and finger foods no later than 8 months, unless otherwise advised by your baby's health care provider.


Finger food 6 to 9 months: At this age babies are only able to grab food with their whole palm, so the best way to offer black beans as a finger food is by making a bean patty, “sausage,” or ball. Add a couple tablespoons of cooked beans to a small plate and mash it with a fork. Add a little oat baby cereal, bread crumbs, wheat germ, cooked rice, flax meal, or other edible raw flour alternatives that can be used as the thickening agent. Next, squeeze mixture between your hands and mold into desired shape. Add more thickening agent/flour (as mentioned above), if needed, to get a good consistency that will make it easy for baby to grab. Just be careful not to put too much flour so it doesn't get too dry, put just enough to help shape bean mixture. Offer to baby by placing it on their tray or on their hand, or by holding it in front of them so they can grab from you. You can also put the bean patty or “sausage” in the oven for a little bit so that it will be firmer. Just let it cool down before offering it to your baby.



Another option is to offer the bean broth in a cup (if using unsalted cooked dried beans or unsalted canned beans), so the baby can drink it independently or with your help, at the beginning.


You can also blend cooked black beans into a smooth spread (like mixing mashed beans into sour cream or mashed avocado) and serve on its own to encourage hand-scooping, or spread it thin on top of baby crackers, thin on rice cakes/grains, or spread on top of a lightly toasted slice of bread and cut into strips about the length and width of an adult finger. Then place it on baby’s tray, in their hand, or hold it in front of them so they can grab it from you.

Finger food 9 to 12 months old: Once your baby begins to use their pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to pick up small pieces of food, you can move into smaller sizes of food. At this stage babies love to pick up little things when they are able. Offer beans in their natural form, the loose cooked whole bean. Just make sure it is cooked to a soft consistency that passes the “squish test” (you’re able to easily smash between your fingers).



For babies who have not yet developed good chewing and swallowing skills, or if you are not comfortable offering the whole bean yet, you can flatten the beans by smashing them between your fingers before offering it to your baby. You can also serve it mashed on a pre-loaded spoon and let baby bring to mouth independently.


This is a great stage to start mixing black beans with other foods and making preparations, since your baby should have already been exposed to a few different foods and you have probably ruled out some possible food allergies or intolerance. Start to incorporate beans into preparations like casseroles, muffins, soups, or hamburger.



Finger food 12+ months: Continue to serve black beans as recommended for younger eaters. And incorporate in preparations as well. Try mixing it with grains, pasta, eggs, or veggies, like sweet potato. Continue to encourage the use of utensils. Beans are a great food for baby to practice the use of an age-appropriate fork.

Note: Finger foods are small pieces of food that your baby can pick up and eat easily. Introducing finger foods early, as soon as starting solids, helps your baby get used to different food textures, improves coordination and encourages self-feeding. These are important feeding skills. Babies can enjoy soft finger foods before they have teeth. They can mash foods into smaller pieces using their gums.

⚠️Avoid putting finger foods or whole foods in your baby's mouth for them. Your baby must do this at their own pace and under their own control.⚠️

Black beans meal ideas for babies:

  • Use your black beans purees as dips or sandwich fillings.

  • Mash the beans roughly, mix with oat baby cereal and form a ball, patty, or sausage.

  • Serve a bowl of black beans and diced avocado.

  • Mash with unsalted canned light tuna, salmon or sardines for a quick and easy lunch.

Recipes