Black Beans

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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a pile of dried black beans before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat black beans?

Black beans may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Where do black beans come from?

Black bean (or black turtle bean) originated in the Americas as part of the common bean family, which encompasses kidney bean, navy bean, and more. Black beans evolved from wild plants in the warm, fertile tropics of Central America, where humans first learned to cultivate the legume. From there, dried beans traveled northward with migration and trade with Indigenous peoples living on the Caribbean islands and along the eastern seaboard of North America. Over time, black beans became a key ingredient in kitchens across the Americas, from the northern regions of the Great Lakes, where black bean is a major agricultural crop, through Central and South America, where black beans are a staple food.

Sebastián, 8 months, eats black bean purée on a teething rusk cracker.
Julian, 12 months, eats black beans.
Max, 14 months, eats black beans with sour cream and avocado.

Are black beans healthy for babies?

Yes. To start, black beans are an excellent source of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein, as well as plant-based omega 3 fatty acids. They contain B-vitamins, specifically vitamin B1 and folate, which help our bodies process carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and power our brain and nervous system. The best part about black beans: they contain iron and zinc, two essential nutrients for babies.1 Babies need increasing amounts of iron starting at the 6-month mark, when their reserves become depleted, and black beans offer a great source of dietary iron at this stage of a baby’s life. Plus, the bean’s black shell offers anthocyanins, plant-based compounds with antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body.

★Tip: Vitamin C helps baby absorb iron from plant sources, so serve black beans with veggies that are high in vitamin C, such as asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, or peas.

Are black beans a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Black beans are a choking hazard due to their small size and rounded shape especially when raw or undercooked. To reduce the risk, cook until soft, and mash beans into a paste or flatten each bean before serving. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are black beans a common allergen?

No. Black beans are not a common food allergen. Bean allergies have been reported in some patients with allergies to other legumes, including peanut and soybean (which are common food allergens). However, being allergic to one type of legume does not necessarily mean that an individual will be allergic to others, although the risk of having more than one legume allergy can increase.2 Fortunately, most individuals with peanut or soy allergy are able to tolerate other legumes just fine.3

Individuals with allergies to birch tree pollen and/or Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to legumes, such as black beans.4 5 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

Can babies have canned black beans?

Yes. Look for black beans marked “no salt added” or “low sodium,” as many canned beans have sodium in excess of baby’s needs, and opt for cans marked “BPA-free,” when available. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line the interior of some food containers, and studies show that frequent exposure can affect baby’s neurological development.6 7

Are the lectins in black beans safe for babies?

Yes. Often called anti-nutrients, these naturally-occurring plant compounds (including lectins, oxalates, and phytates) break down during the soaking and cooking process and are generally harmless in healthy people when consumed as part of a balanced diet.8 9 10 Lectins and oxalates can even offer health benefits, such as antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.11 12

Do black beans need to be soaked before cooking?

No, but soaking them in water prior to cooking can reduce cooking time, reduce the levels of lectin and of a gas-producing carbohydrate, raffinose, and help make the bean and its key nutrients more easily digestible.13 14 15 16

Here are a couple of soaking methods:

  • Traditional overnight soak: Use a ratio of 1 lb (454 g) of dried beans and 10 c (2 ½ liter) water, and soak the beans in water for 4 or more hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans prior to cooking.
  • Hot soak method: Use a ratio of 1 lb (454 g) of dried beans and 10 c (2 ½ liter) water, and bring the mixture to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, then soak for a few hours. Drain and rinse the beans prior to cooking.

★Tip: Cooking dried black beans from scratch and finding they won’t soften? It’s possible they’re past their prime. While black beans are shelf stable for around one year, black beans that are more recently packed will cook better and easier than ones with an older pack date.

Can black beans help babies poop?

Yes. The high concentrations of fiber and resistant starches in beans interact with certain bacteria in the gut, resulting in gas, helping move poop along, and contributing to a diverse ecosystem in the digestive tract.17 While gas is normal and expected, excess gas can be uncomfortable for baby. To minimize digestive discomfort, introduce high-fiber foods like black beans gradually and regularly in baby’s diet as tolerated.18 Remember that pooping patterns can vary significantly from baby to baby. If you have concerns about your baby’s pooping and digestive function, talk to your pediatric healthcare provider.

How do you prepare black beans for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 8 months old: Crush or blend cooked black beans into a textured mash or smooth paste for baby to scoop with their hands. If you prefer, serve the mash or paste with a spoon or thinly spread it on thin rice cakes or corn tortilla. To boost nutrition, stir in breast milk, formula, olive oil, or even yogurt when making the mash or paste. You can also stir the crushed or pureed black beans into soft, scoopable foods like corn grits, mashed vegetables, rice porridge, or stewed greens. Just start with small portions of black beans at first, to minimize any digestive discomfort from the high-fiber food.

9 to 11 months old: Babies with a developing pincer grasp (where the thumb meets the pointer finger) may graduate to black beans that have been gently flattened between your thumb and finger before serving. Alternatively, continue serving mashed or pureed black beans for baby to scoop with hands, dip in fingers or pieces of cooked vegetables, or practice eating with a spoon.

12 to 24 months old: By this age, toddlers should be able to handle whole cooked black beans so try offering the beans on their own or as part of a shared meal. You can, of course, continue to mash and pre-load on spoons. To encourage self-feeding with utensils, scoop up some beans and lay the utensil next to the food for the child to try to pick up.

Black bean purée on a teething rusk.
A teething rusk with black bean purée for babies 6 months+
gently flattened black beans in a hand before giving to babies starting solids
Gently flattened black beans for babies 9 months+
Blending canned black beans to make a paste for young babies
How to serve black beans for babies 6 months+

Bring baby to the table with meal ideas from our guide, 100 Dinners for Babies & Toddlers.

Recipe: Burrito Bowls for Baby and Me

burrito bowl containing black beans, corn, avocado and chicken

Yield: 2 bowls
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

This recipe contains a common allergen: dairy (sour cream). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. Rinse the beans to remove excess sodium.
  2. Combine the beans and rice in a mixing bowl.
  3. Season the burrito mixture with cumin and lime juice to taste. Feel free to omit or swap them for any seasonings that you want baby to learn to love.
  4. Cut the avocado into age-appropriate sizes, then mix it into the burrito mixture.
  5. Set aside some burrito mixture for the child, and prepare the beans in an age-appropriate way: mashed or flattened to reduce the choking risk for babies or kept them whole for toddlers.
  6. Before serving, drizzle sour cream and sprinkle cilantro leaves on top of the burrito bowls, and season yours with salsa or hot sauce, salt, and your favorite toppings.

Serve the Burrito Bowl

  1. Offer the burrito bowl to baby, then let the child self-feed.
  2. If help is needed, mash some avocado, beans, and rice to pre-load on a spoon, then hold the spoon in the air in front of the child and let them grab it from you.
  3. Eat your burrito bowl alongside baby to model how it’s done.

To Store: Burrito Bowls keep in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Flavor Pairings

Black beans have a mild earthy taste and a creamy texture and pair well with corn, cassava (yuca), plantain, quinoa, pumpkin, and tomato.

Reviewed by

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Hilger, J., Goerig, T., Weber. P., Hoeft, B., Eggersdorfer, M., Costa Carvalho, N., …  Hoffmann, K. (2015). Micronutrient Intake in Healthy Toddlers: A Multinational Perspective. Nutrients. 7(8), 6938-55. doi:10.3390/nu7085316. Retrieved September 19, 2022
  2. Chan, E.S., Greenhawt, M.J., Fleischer, D.M., Caubet, J. C. (2019). Managing Cross-Reactivity in Those with Peanut Allergy. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, 7(2), 381–386. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaip.2018.11.012. Retrieved September 19, 2022
  3. Bublin, M., & Breiteneder, H. (2014). Cross-reactivity of peanut allergens. Current allergy and asthma reports, 14(4), 426. DOI: 10.1007/s11882-014-0426-8. Retrieved September 14, 2022
  4. Kashyap, R.R., Kashyap, R.S. (2015). Oral Allergy Syndrome: An Update for Stomatologists. Journal of allergy, 2015, 543928. DOI:10.1155/2015/543928. Retrieved September 19, 2022
  5. National Health Service. Oral allergy syndrome. Retrieved September 19, 2022
  6. Mustieles, V., & Fernández, M. F. (2020). Bisphenol A shapes children’s brain and behavior: towards an integrated neurotoxicity assessment including human data. Environmental health : a global access science source, 19(1), 66. DOI: 10.1186/s12940-020-00620-y. Retrieved September 14, 2022
  7. Rochester, J. R., & Bolden, A. L. (2015). Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes. Environmental health perspectives, 123(7), 643–650. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1408989. Retrieved September 14, 2022
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