Legumes Weaning: Is there some I should Avoid?

Legumes are, in our diet, a rich source of plant proteins and an excellent alternative to those of animal origin, which we can find in meat, fish, eggs and cheese.

Obviously, at the beginning of weaning, every parent wonders which legumes weaning they can offer, how to do it, and the frequency in the meals of their little ones.

Let’s see together how best to introduce them.

How to cook legumes in weaning?

While rich in important micronutrients, legumes are nutritionally rich in protein and also carbohydrates (but in a smaller proportion).

But to make sure that we get a complete and balanced dish, rich in essential amino acids (essential for protein formation) and carbohydrates, we need to pair them with a cereal source, rich in carbohydrates.

Of course, the type of preparation will vary depending on the type of weaning chosen, whether traditional or baby-led weaning.

What legumes at 6 months?

At the beginning of weaning, arrived at about six months (although it is different for each child), a wide range of legumes can be offered such as: chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybeans, broad beans, peas.

This rich variety of plant proteins can be offered from the very beginning of weaning, such as in baby food, or mashed.

As the months go on, it would be ideal to offer whole legumes, with the aim of training fine motor skills and fortifying the so-called “pincer grip.”

At the beginning of weaning, lentils, which have a delicate flavor and are versatile in various preparations, turn out to be very popular.

Another idea is to use chickpea flour to make pancakes, omelets or meatballs.

legumes weaning

How many times a week do you give legumes to infants?

Legumes should be offered, always in combination with carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice), at least 4 times a week in order to control animal protein intake.

Many parents wonder how to include them during weaning, but there are, in this regard, no chrono-insertions to be observed.

Legumes remain a very versatile preparation in that you can prepare them throughout the week and in case even freeze them to have them ready to use.

The only prerogative, at the beginning of weaning and at least until 12 months of age, is to offer them hulled.

Legumes Weaning: Why Decorticate them?

Legumes should be offered dehulled, that is, stripped of their outer film.

It is rich in fiber, which should be limited at least until 12 months, because it has the problem of fermenting in the gut with microbiota bacteria.

The ways in which to prepare them, in order to minimize the more troublesome effects of fiber, are to:

  • soak the legumes (changing the water several times), to make them softer and inactivate some anti-nutrients (phytates that limit the absorption of key micronutrients such as zinc and iron);
  • rinse canned legumes from their vegetable water.

What happens if I give unhulled legumes?

Toddlers, until at least 12 months of age, should limit fiber consumption.

As for legumes, the outer film is rich in fiber and should not be eaten.

If it were to get into the intestines, the large amount of fiber would be fermented by the intestinal microbiome, producing gas that would limit the absorption of other important nutrients.

How to get infants to eat legumes?

Legumes can be offered in many ways both in a classic weaning approach (baby-food and soft textures) and in complementary feeding on demand (better known by the term self-weaning, offering chunky foods by making use of safe cuts).

Here, below, are some ideas:

  • Legume and potato velouté: This mode can be taken advantage of by those who prefer to start with softer foods or as toppings for a first course (such as pasta in formats like fusilli and spaghetti). Blended legumes greatly lower the fiber quota and are less impactful on the gut;
  • Pancakes made with chickpea flour or chickpea: the safe cuts of these preparations can be a good support to begin the first approaches with on-demand complementary feeding;
  • Offer crushed and/or whole legumes together always with a source of carbohydrates such as bread or pasta/rice;
  • Legume hummus (I recommend chickpeas or beans) for topping slices or strips of bread.

How many grams of cooked legumes in weaning?

According to WHO, there is no grammage to follow regarding legumes (both cooked and raw).

It remains very convenient, likewise, to use a three-part portioned plate: half of the plate will be carbohydrates, a quarter will be healthy protein, and the last quarter will be fruits and vegetables (fat source: a drizzle of EVO oil).

Some simple preparations

Here is a table with some legumes suitable for weaning along with a simple preparation for each:

Sure, here’s the table formatted:

LegumeSimple Preparation
PeasCook fresh peas until soft, then blend them until smooth.
BeansCook dried beans or use canned ones, then mash or blend them until creamy.
ChickpeasUse canned chickpeas, rinse them well, then blend them with a little water or vegetable broth to achieve a smooth consistency.
LentilsCook lentils until tender, then mash or blend them with a little olive oil.
Broad BeansPeel fresh broad beans, then cook them until tender and blend them with a little water or broth.
Black BeansCook dried black beans until soft, then blend them with some vegetable broth.

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FAQ

  1. What legumes at 6 months?

    At the beginning of weaning, around six months, you can introduce a variety of legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, beans, soybeans, broad beans and peas. You can offer them crushed or incorporated into the meals.

  2. How many times a week do you give legumes to infants?

    Legumes should be offered at least 4 times a week, always in combination with carbohydrates to control protein intake. There are no fixed rules for inclusion during weaning, but it is advisable to vary and freeze preparations for convenience.

  3. What happens if I give unhulled legumes?

    Offering unhulled legumes to infants could cause intestinal fermentation and gas, limiting the absorption of other nutrients.

  4. How many grams of cooked legumes in weaning?

    There is no specific recommended amount of legumes for infants, but it is advisable to balance them with carbohydrates and vegetables.

SOURCES

Barends C, de Vries JH, Mojet J, de Graaf C. Effects of starting weaning exclusively with vegetables on vegetable intake at the age of 12 and 23 months. Appetite. 2014 Oct;81:193-9. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.023. Epub 2014 Jun 25. PMID: 24973508.

About the Author

Simona Scagli - Nutritionist