Green beans, sometimes known as string beans, may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Green beans are snap beans—a sprawling family of legumes whose tender pods are eaten before their tiny seeds mature and swell from soaking up sun and water. Snap beans go by different common names depending on the variety. Aside from green beans, there are bush beans, pole beans, string beans, and wax beans, to name a few. While green beans might be the most widely recognized, snap beans actually range in color, from red to purple to yellow, even speckled and striated. All trace back to the common bean that was cultivated by Indigenous people of Central and South America for thousands of years before colonizers took the seeds to Europe. There, exotl (the Nahuatl name for the string-like beans) became ejote in Spanish, and domestication and global trade led to the many varieties eaten around the world today.
Amelia, 7 months, munches on whole, steamed green beans.
Riley, 7 months, eats a whole cooked green bean.
Mahalia, 11.5 months, eats cooked and chopped green beans.
Yes. Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin K—an essential nutrient that plays a key role in blood clotting. They also contain vitamin A (for healthy eyesight and immune systems) and vitamin C, a critical nutrient that helps our bodies absorb iron from plant-based foods, which is important for babies at this stage in their lives. Lastly, green beans help fuel your baby’s body with protein and move things along in the digestive tract thanks to plenty of fiber within the tender pods.
You may have heard that green beans and other edible plants (arugula, beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and squash to name a few) contain nitrates—naturally occurring chemicals which, if consumed in large amounts, can negatively affect oxygen levels in our blood. Babies—and particularly babies younger than 3 months of age—may be more susceptible to nitrates.
So are green beans safe for babies starting solids? Yes. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the European Food Safety Authority has found that the level of nitrates in vegetables is not a concern for most children, and nitrates from vegetables appear to be less of a concern for babies older than 6 months of age. Therefore, we believe that the benefits of eating vegetables as part of a varied diet of fresh foods outweigh the risks of excess nitrate exposure from vegetables. If you’re worried, nitrate exposure can be reduced by avoiding deli meats (and other processed meats) and well water, which can be high in nitrates.
Yes. Green beans are tough for babies to chew, plus pre-cut green beans and other cylindrical varieties of snap beans are very similar in diameter to the trachea at this early stage in life. To minimize the risk, cut lengthwise or offer your child a whole string bean to munch on. Bigger is often safer!
No. Green bean allergies are rare, though not unheard of and, in theory, an individual can be allergic to any food. As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
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.
Offer cooked green beans in their whole form (a whole bean, uncut is best). At this age, whole bean pods may be safer for babies than pre-cut green beans. Whole bean pods are also easier for the baby to grasp. As they munch, their gums smash the pod and reduce its roundness, while small pieces of pre-cut green beans could be more likely to be accidentally swallowed whole. If you’d like to work the fine motor skills required for utensils, raw green beans can be excellent “spoons” or vehicles to practice self-feeding a pureed texture (like hummus). While your baby won’t consume the green bean itself when used this way (as raw green beans require strong jaw control and for most babies, teeth, to break through the skin), they are fantastic for learning the skills of scooping.
Offer bite-size pieces of cooked green beans. This is also a great time to practice with forks and green beans spear quite nicely!
Continue to offer bite-size pieces of cooked green beans as finger food or serve with a fork but reduce the cooking time to acclimate your child to chewing tougher foods. You can also serve whole green beans with a dip—toddlers love to dip!
3 beans + ¾ c (180 ml) cheese
Zest the lemon. Reserve the juice for another use.
Mix the lemon zest and olive oil into the ricotta cheese.
Steam whole greens beans, then stick them in the cheese so they are ready for baby to grab.
Serve the Beans
Offer whole green beans and lemony ricotta cheese to baby, then let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, swipe a bean in the cheese, then hold it in the air in front of baby and let the child reach for it. Once baby has grabbed the bean, let go.
Eat some beans and cheese alongside baby to model how it’s done.
To Store: Whole green beans and lemony ricotta cheese keep in airtight containers in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Green beans have a bright grassy flavor that pairs well with rich proteins like bacon, beef, and lamb; tart fruits like lemon, orange, and tomato; earthy foods like oyster mushrooms and purple potato; and creamy foods like avocado, ricotta cheese, and yogurt. Try seasoning green bean dishes with mint, savory, tarragon, or your family’s favorite herb. And when in doubt, add butter!
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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