When can babies eat cannellini beans?
Cannellini beans may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. A variety of the common kidney bean also known as lobia and safaid, the cream-colored cannellini bean has a thin skin, nutty flavor, and soft texture—perfect for babies!
Are cannellini beans healthy for babies?
Absolutely! Cannellini beans have a ton of vitamin B1, an important energy-producing nutrient that powers growth and brain health. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and plant-based protein. The best part: cannellini beans contain three nutrients that are commonly deficient and/or insufficient in babies: folate, iron, and zinc.1 2
You may have heard that babies need a lot of iron-rich foods. This is true, and particularly so for babies 6 months and older, as a baby’s iron stores from their mother begin to deplete around 6 months of age. In the body iron brings oxygen to cells and aids digestion and absorption of nutrients that energize the body. It’s also essential for brain, immune, and muscular function.3
Are beans a common choking hazard for babies?
Beans are not named as a common choking hazard, but they can pose a risk if not cooked well enough. If baby is younger than 12 months old and/or has not developed good chewing and swallowing skills, try making a mash out of the beans and spreading on top of thin rice cakes or toast.
Are cannellini beans a common allergen?
No. Cannellini beans are not a common allergen, though, in theory, an individual can be allergic to any food. As with any new food, introduce a small quantity at first and watch closely as baby eats. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity in following servings.
How do you prepare beans for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 9 months old: For young babies, blend cooked cannellini beans into a smooth paste and serve with a spoon or spread on thin rice cakes. To boost nutrition, add breast milk, formula, olive oil, or even full fat yogurt to the blender when making the paste. Start with small portions: beans + young babies = poop!
9 to 12 months old: For babies who have a developing pincer grasp (where the thumb meets the pointer finger), you can graduate to whole beans as long as they are cooked and soft. If you are nervous about choking, you can gently flatten each bean between your thumb and finger before serving or make into a mash and pre-load your baby’s spoon. You can also try mixing the beans with some extra virgin olive oil for added fat.
12 to 24 months old: By this time, toddlers should be able to handle whole cooked beans. You can, of course, continue to mash and pre-load on spoons. To encourage self-feeding with utensils, show how to spear beans with an age-appropriate fork.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Cannellini Bean Hummus
- Cannellini beans (low-sodium canned beans or home-cooked dried beans)
- Breast milk, prepared formula, or milk
- Olive oil
- Garlic, minced
- Lemon juice
- If you’re using canned cannellini beans, rinse them in a colander to remove any excess sodium. If you’re using dried beans, soak them overnight with a splash of acid (lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, which helps improve the beans’ digestibility) in a heavy-bottomed pot or bowl, then drain and return them to the pot along with enough water to cover them. Cook over low heat until the beans for about 1 hour, or until they are soft.
- Put the cooked beans in a food processor (a mini Cuisinart works well) and add a splash of breast milk or prepared formula and a pinch of cumin if you’d like to add flavor.
- Blend on high until the paste is smooth and no bean skins remain. Add another splash of breast milk, formula, or other milk if the paste is too thick.
- Warm a little olive oil in a small sauté pan on medium. Add the minced garlic and reduce the heat slightly. Cook for a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the cooked garlic and lemon juice (skip if your baby has diaper rash), into the blender to increase the nutrient value and flavor. Alternatively, if you enjoy making roasted garlic, save a clove for this recipe, or cook dried beans with several cloves of garlic.
- To serve, pre-load a baby spoon with the hummus and offer it in the air to encourage grabbing, or spread on thin rice cakes and place them on your baby’s plate to encourage them to pick up the food.
Cannellini beans taste great with chili pepper, cumin, garlic, ground beef, lemon, and olives. They also pair well with sauces like pesto or tahini and finely chopped herbs like basil, chives, parsley, and rosemary.
- ilger, 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
- Infant & Toddler Forum. (2012). Common Nutritional Problems in Toddlers. Retrieved March 27, 2020
- Rosales, F.J. & Zeisel, S.H. (2008). Perspectives from the symposium: The role of nutrition in infant and toddler brain and behavioral development. Nutritional Neuroscience, 11(3): 135-43. doi: 10.1179/147683008X301522.