Beans for baby? Well, yes! Use this baby led weaning recipe for Baby Bean Bites to introduce your little one to a tasty, plant-based protein option.
If you are reading this blog, you likely have little ones. If you have little ones you know that feeding them is a great joy, but can also be a challenge.
Introducing beans for baby early on has always been a goal of mine. This BLW recipe with beans does the trick.
Are Beans Okay for My Baby?
At around 6 months, babies can (and should be) introduced to complementary foods. Of course, they need to be developmentally ready for solids and interested.
Complementary foods add nutrients baby can’t receive from breastmilk alone, hence, the word “complementary.” Ideally, you’ll want to select foods that are nutrient-rich because your baby’s brain, body and bones are “nutrient-hungry.”
When baby starts on first foods, her digestive system needs to adapt. Moving from a liquid diet to a solid food diet requires more digestion. Often, parents use fruits, vegetables, fortified cereals and meat to make sure foods are packed with nutrition during this phase.
At about 8 months, most babies are ready for beans. Their digestive systems are used to more complex foods and they are ready for the next step.
At my house, we have reached the stage where my baby is no longer interested in eating something that I am offering to her from a spoon. She’s ready to self-feed.
She prefers to eat what she can pick up off her tray all on her own, after she has poked, prodded and squashed it.
Keeping her interested in the food on her tray can be a challenge, particularly when her older sister is home to distract her.
A Recipe for Beans and Baby
I generally advise moms to begin with beans sometime in the first year, after some tolerance has been established to grains, meats and veggies.
I came up with this recipe incorporating beans for baby, called Baby Bean Bites, and they seem to do the trick, for now.
Baby Bean Bites are small and soft enough so baby can handle feeding themselves. They are full of nutritious ingredients.
Something else I really love about these pint size bites, is just that, their size.
I cringe when food is wasted, so when my little one only takes a small bite of her meal and tosses the rest on the floor, it can be a tad frustrating. With these little bites, there isn’t a whole lot of waste even if a few crumbs get thrown overboard.
Baby Bean Bites: A Great BLW Recipe
Let’s talk about the ingredients. These bites are very customizable. You can toss in a variety of different vegetables and still have the same end result.
For this version, I decided to use a few of my daughter’s favorite ingredients: sweet potato, green peas and white navy beans.
A grated or mashed carrot, squash or potato could work in place of the sweet potato. Edamame, broccoli, corn or lima beans in place of the green peas. Chickpeas or black beans instead of navy beans.
The navy beans were cooked from dry, but canned would work out fine as well. Look for those that have no salt added and are packaged in a BPA free can. Don’t forget to drain and rinse the beans before using.
Most of the ingredients in this recipe are sources of fiber. The beans, peas and quinoa also provide protein and are sources of iron.
These plant based sources of iron are not as easily absorbed as the iron that comes from animal sources. You’ll want to include an ingredient that is high in vitamin C (such as peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potato) in the bean bites. Or, serve a side dip to help the iron to be absorbed.
Serving these bean bites with some tomato sauce on the side for dipping would be a great way to incorporate some vitamin C.
These little bites are full of nutrition and a nice option if you have embarked on Baby-Led Weaning or are simultaneously introducing the spoon and self-feeding. It felt great watching my daughter gobble up 4 in a row. I hope your little one likes them too!
Other Baby Led Weaning Starter Foods
I’m often asked what other foods can be used for baby led weaning or self-feeding. I think the biggest rule of thumb is to make whatever you choose a nutrient-rich option. Here are some of my favorite first foods using either BLW or a self-feeding approach:
- avocado (omega-3 fats, vitamin E)
- meats (iron, zinc, vitamin B12)
- soft fruits (potassium, fiber, vitamin C)
- soft, cooked veggies (vitamin A, fiber, potassium)
- soft, cooked fish such as salmon (omega-3 fats, protein)
- whole milk plain yogurt
- cooked sweet potato
- cooked pumpkin and other squash
Get the Recipe for Baby Bean Bites
The best thing about this recipe is you can make bean substitutions or veggie substitutions. It allows you great flexibility!
- 1 cup navy beans
- ½ medium sweet potato, cubed and cooked
- ¼ cup quinoa, cooked
- ¼ cup green peas, cooked
- 1 tbsp tahini
- ¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
- Pulse ingredients until combined and the mixture starts to stick together, be careful not to over do it, pureeing the ingredients will make them hard to work with.
- Using a small spoon, measure out 1 tbsp of the mixture and roll into a ball.
- Place on the baking tray and press down lightly to form a patty.
- Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the bottom side is golden brown. Flip the bites and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Allow the bites to cool before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 24Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g
Need More Help with Starting Solids?
If you’re starting solids with your baby, check out The Smart Mom’s Guide to Starting Solids where you will get the guidance you need to nourish and nurture your baby in the first year. Available on Amazon and whereever you buy books.
Melinda Lamarche is a Registered Dietitian living in Toronto, Canada. She loves everything and anything to do with food, nutrition and being in the kitchen where she spends a lot of time cooking up new things for her husband and two little girls.
This post was originally published in August 2017 | Updated on September 20, 2020.