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. Aside from green beans, there are bush beans, pole beans, string beans, and wax beans, to name a few. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
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!
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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