Chickpea

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 chickpeas before being prepared for babies starting solid food

When can babies eat chickpeas?

Chickpeas, when modified to reduce the risk of choking, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.

Warning

Whole chickpeas present a potential choking hazard for babies, so read on for how to serve them safely for baby’s specific age.

Where do chickpeas come from?

Chickpeas originated in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea in ancient times, and today they are a staple food for cultures around the world. The popular legume goes by countless names: bengal grams, ceci beans, chana, desi chana, garbanzo beans, kadale kaalu, nokhod, sanaga pappu, and shimbra, to name a few. Color, shape, and size also varies, but the Kabuli and Desi varieties are the most widely available worldwide. Chickpeas are not only popular in dishes in their whole form, but also essential for cooked dishes and hummus, used in baking as chickpea flour, and the liquid from canned chickpeas (aquafaba) has even become a common egg substitute.

Kalani, 7 months, eats hummus on baby crackers.
Isar, 9 months, eats chickpea hummus with a spoon.
Adie, 23 months, eats whole chickpeas for the first time.

Are chickpeas healthy for babies?

Yes. Chickpeas are an incredibly nutritious legume, rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber, high in the key nutrients that babies need to thrive, including folate, iron, vitamin B6, choline, and zinc. Collectively, these nutrients support baby’s neurodevelopment, metabolism, growth, as well as taste and smell perception.

★Tip: Vitamin C helps increase the body’s absorption of iron from plant sources, so serve chickpeas with other foods that are high in vitamin C, such as asparagus, bell pepper, cauliflower, or peas.

Are chickpeas a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. Whole chickpeas are a choking hazard due to their small size and rounded shape especially when raw or undercooked. To reduce the choking risk, cook until soft, mash or blend cooked chickpeas, or flatten each one between your fingers. 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 chickpeas a common allergen?

While not considered a common allergen in the United States, chickpeas are a common allergen in India and Spain.1 2 Reactions can occasionally be severe and in some cases have been reported to be triggered by exercise.3 Some individuals who are allergic to chickpea experience asthma symptoms after inhaling the vapors from steamed chickpeas.4

Note that hummus, which is made from blended chickpeas, usually contains sesame (a common allergen) in the form of tahini, a sesame seed paste. Many individuals who experience symptoms of allergy after hummus consumption falsely attribute them to its chickpea content, when sesame is the more common food allergen.

Being allergic to one type of legume does not necessarily mean that an individual will be allergic to all others, although the risk of more than one legume allergy can increase.5 Chickpea allergies have been reported in some patients with allergies to other legumes. In particular, allergies to chickpeas and lentils may coexist.6

Individuals with allergies to birch or plane tree pollen and/or Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to legumes such as chickpeas.7 8 9 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 with all new foods, start by introducing a small amount of chickpeas for the first few servings and watch closely. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the serving size over future meals.

Are the lectins in chickpeas 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.10 11 12 Lectins and oxalates can even offer health benefits, such as antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.13 14

Do chickpeas need to be soaked before cooking?

No, although soaking dried chickpeas can reduce cooking time and ensure that they are cooked all the way through, while also reducing the levels of lectins and a gas-producing carbohydrate, raffinose.15 16

Here are a couple of common soaking methods:

  • 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 chickpeas and finding they won’t soften? It’s possible they are past their prime. While chickpeas are shelf stable for a couple of years, chickpeas that are more recently packed will cook more fully and easily than older ones.

Can chickpeas help babies poop?

Yes. Chickpeas have high amounts of fiber and resistant starch, which interact with certain bacteria in the gut, resulting in gas, moving poop along, and contributing to the diversity of healthy bacteria 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 chickpeas 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 chickpeas for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 8 months old: Smash or blend cooked chickpeas into a textured mash or paste and serve in a bowl for baby to scoop. You can also offer hummus, just make sure that sesame has been ruled out as an allergen if the hummus contains sesame. When purchasing store-bought hummus, look for low-sodium options (less than 100 mg per serving). Alternatively, use chickpea flour to make dosa, idli, or pancakes to share with baby. The thin skin on each chickpea is not a choking hazard, but it can cause some gagging if it sticks in baby’s mouth, so feel free to remove them or leave them on.

9 to 11 months old: Babies with a developing pincer grasp (where the thumb meets the pointer finger) may graduate to chickpeas that are fully cooked until soft and flattened with your thumb or fork to minimize the risk of choking. Alternatively, tear dosa, idli, or pancakes made with chickpea flour into bite-sized pieces and let baby practice picking them up. You can also continue to offer hummus or mashed chickpeas.

12 to 24 months old: Continue to serve flattened chickpeas, and try flattening them a little less as your child’s eating skills mature and your comfort increases. At this age, many toddlers are also ready to eat whole chickpeas that are fully cooked until soft. Before you offer one, assess the child’s eating ability. If you see the child consistently chewing well and not stuffing their mouth, and you feel comfortable, try offering a whole chickpea in a safe eating environment. Make sure to offer one at a time at first, model how to crush the chickpea with your teeth, and stay within arm’s each of the child.

Get baby’s caregivers on the same page as you with our guide, Baby-led Weaning with Daycare & Caregivers.

Recipe: Sesame-Free Hummus

bowl of hummus on a table

Yield: 2 c (480 ml)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Open the can and rinse the chickpeas to remove excess sodium.
  2. Wash, dry, zest, and juice the lemon.
  3. Smash and peel the garlic.
  4. Blend the chickpeas, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and oil in a high-powered food processor or blender. If you do not have one, you can make a more textured hummus by mashing the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Season the hummus with cumin or any spice that you want baby to learn to love.
  6. Serve the hummus with foods for dipping, such as bell pepper spears, toasted bread, or whole green beans.

Serve the Hummus

  1. Offer hummus to baby, then let the child self-feed.
  2. If help is needed, swipe a baby spoon or another food in the hummus, then hold it in the air in front of baby and let the child grab it from you.
  3. Eat some hummus alongside baby to model how it’s done.

To Store: Sesame-Free Hummus keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.

Flavor Pairings

Chickpeas pair well with the flavors of carrots, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, and sweet potato.

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

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  2. Patil, SP., Niphadkar, PV., Bapat, MM. (2001). Chickpea: a major food allergen in the Indian subcontinent and its clinical and immunochemical correlation. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 87(2), 140‐145. doi:10.1016/S1081-1206(10)62209-0 Retrieved September 23, 2022
  3. Wong CG, Mace SR. Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis: a case related to chickpea ingestion and review. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2007 Dec 15;3(4):134-7. doi: 10.1186/1710-1492-3-4-134. Epub 2007 Dec 15. PMID: 20525119. Retrieved September 23, 2022
  4. García Ortiz JC, López-Asunsolo A, Cosmes P, Duran AM. Bronchial asthma induced by hypersensitivity to legumes. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 1995 Jan-Feb;23(1):38-40. Retrieved September 23, 2022
  5. 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 23, 2022
  6. Cox, A. L., Eigenmann, P. A., & Sicherer, S. H. (2021). Clinical Relevance of Cross-Reactivity in Food Allergy. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, 9(1), 82–99. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaip.2020.09.030. Retrieved September 23, 2022
  7. 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 23, 2022
  8. National Health Service. Oral allergy syndrome. Retrieved September 23, 2022
  9. Cox, A. L., Eigenmann, P. A., & Sicherer, S. H. (2021). Clinical Relevance of Cross-Reactivity in Food Allergy. The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, 9(1), 82–99. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaip.2020.09.030. Retrieved September 23, 2022
  10. Singh, B., Singh, J. P., Shevkani, K., Singh, N., & Kaur, A. (2017). Bioactive constituents in pulses and their health benefits. Journal of food science and technology, 54(4), 858–870. DOI: 10.1007/s13197-016-2391-9. Retrieved September 16, 2022
  11. Deol, J. K., Bains, K. (2010). Effect of household cooking methods on nutritional and anti nutritional factors in green cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) pods. Journal of food science and technology, 47(5), 579–581. DOI:10.1007/s13197-010-0112-3. Retrieved September 19, 2022
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  14. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Are Anti-Nutrients Harmful? Retrieved August 4, 2022
  15. Queiroz Kda S, de Oliveira AC, Helbig E, Reis SM, Carraro F. Soaking the common bean in a domestic preparation reduced the contents of raffinose-type oligosaccharides but did not interfere with nutritive value. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Aug;48(4):283-9. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.48.283. Retrieved September 16, 2022
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  18. Quagliani, D., & Felt-Gunderson, P. (2016). Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 11(1), 80–85. DOI: 10.1177/1559827615588079. Retrieved September 16, 2022