Kidney 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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Common Allergen: No
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pile of kidney beans

When can babies eat kidney beans?

Kidney beans may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old. For young babies, it will be easiest for them to eat if you blend the beans into a smooth spread and put atop thin rice cakes. Kidney beans (and beans in general!) are a nutritious food for babies and a fantastic snack for toddlers on the go. Be forewarned, however, that if your baby eats too many beans in one setting, a poop blowout is on the horizon!

Kalani, 6 months, eats flattened kidney beans for the first time.
Reed, 7 months, eats mashed kidney beans for the first time.

Are kidney beans healthy for my baby?

Absolutely! Kidney beans are rich in most B-vitamins, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and plant-based protein. Along with many other minerals and nutrients, kidney beans contain two that are commonly deficient in babies: folate and iron. Iron brings oxygen to cells and aids digestion and absorption of nutrients to bring energy to the body. It’s also essential for brain, immune, and muscle function, and it helps block lead from being absorbed in the body—an issue for some young children. The folate in kidney beans helps build brain and spinal cord tissues, DNA and cell production, and healthy digestive, immune, and nervous systems. Truly a superfood.

Are kidney beans a common choking hazard for my baby?

Kidney beans are not a common choking hazard, though if your baby is younger than 12 months old or has not developed good chewing and swallowing skills, you may want to flatten the beans by smashing them between your fingers or blending into a spread you can put atop baby crackers or thin rice cakes. Note that when you smash or purée beans some of the skins will likely remain. The skin can be particularly bothersome for young eaters, as it can cling to the back of the throat and cause a lot of coughing. To minimize leftover skins, try puréeing the beans with some breast milk or formula.

For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.

Are kidney beans a common allergen?

No. Kidney beans are not a common allergen, though, in theory, an individual can be allergic to any food.

Interestingly, children allergic to peanuts and tree nuts are more likely to be deficient in dietary folate, making beans an ideal food for children with these allergies.

How do you prepare kidney beans as finger food for babies or with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: For the youngest babies, blend cooked 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. If you feel your baby can pick them up, you may also serve the beans on their own. Flattening each bean will reduce the choking risk as well as make it easier to pick up. And 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 your baby 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, teach your baby 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.

Vitamin C helps your baby absorb iron from plant sources, so serve kidney beans with veggies that are high in vitamin C, such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and peas.

Recipe: Kidney Bean Hummus

three crackers topped kidney bean hummus

Ingredients

  • Kidney beans (low sodium canned beans or cooked dried beans)
  • Breast milk, prepared formula, or milk
  • Cumin (optional)
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional)

Directions

If you’re using canned kidney beans, rinse them in a colander to remove any excess sodium. If you’re using dried beans, soak them overnight in a heavy-bottomed pot in the fridge, then drain and return them to the pot along with enough water to cover them. Cook over low heat until the beans are soft, about 1 hour.

Put the cooked beans in a food processor (a mini Cuisinart works well) and add 1 ounce of breast milk or prepared formula and a pinch of cumin. Blend on high until the paste is smooth and no bean skins remain. Add another ounce of breast milk or formula if needed to reach the desired consistency.

When your baby is ready for raw garlic and lemon juice, which can be tough on little bellies, add those in with the other ingredients in the blender. Alternatively, if you enjoy making roasted garlic, save a clove for this recipe.

To serve, pre-load a baby spoon with the bean paste and offer it in the air to encourage grabbing, or spread atop thin baby crackers and place them on your baby’s plate to encourage them to pick up the food by themselves.

Flavor Pairings

Kidney beans taste great with chili pepper, cumin, garlic, ground beef, lemon, and tahini (sesame paste).