The health benefits of beans for infants and children include a good supply of proteins, a good source of vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, high amount of dietary fibre, the supply of antioxidants and supply of essential minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sodium and zinc. Beans are a great source of protein that comes cheap.
Health benefits of beans for babies include
Very high source of proteins
Beans are one of the highest sources of protein gotten from plants. Protein is one nutrient your growing baby needs for growth and development on a regular basis. Other protein-rich foods include meat, fish, milk, soybeans, peas etc
Good source of vitamin A
Vitamin A is among one of the very important vitamins that your baby needs. As we know, vitamin A promotes eyesight, it is also a powerful antioxidant and it promotes the immune system by strengthening the mucous structures in the body.
Supplies vitamin C
Vitamin C is another vitamin that is known to improve the immune system in the body. It is also helpful in preventing the common cold, cough, asthma, etc. Apart from inflammation, vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and keeps free radicals at bay.
Good source of folate
Folate or folic acid belongs to the group of vitamin B. This vitamin helps in producing red blood cells which are essential in an infant who needs to supply nutrients to every organ in the body for quick development. Folate is also useful in strengthening brain cells and for a proper functioning of the brain.
Apart from the vitamins, beans are also home to other types of antioxidants such as flavonoids, alkaloids, catechin and anthocyanin. These biochemicals act as powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that are produced in the body through metabolism. Metabolism definitely produces free radicals and without countering these free radicals, there is a chance that these free radicals can damage the cells and worse, the DNA.
Beans are full of dietary fibre. This dietary fibre is very much useful in keeping the colon or the large intestine clean by regulating bowel movements. Dietary fibre absorbs water in the body and flushes out all the impurities in the colon through the stool. Regular bowel movements are good for your baby as it keeps diseases at bay and promotes appetite.
Apart from providing vitamins and antioxidants, beans are a decent source of minerals. Minerals are also very much essential in the development of your baby. Decent supply of minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, etc is essential for conducting various bodily functions.
When and how can I start feeding my baby with beans?
Beans can be introduced to your baby’s diet at about 6 – 7 months of age, but won’t advise it as a first food for your baby. Please wait until your baby is well established on complementary foods before introducing beans, introducing it early can cause certain issues such as an increase in flatulence and there is also a chance of indigestion as well.
Beans should be cooked soft, then mashed or pureed into a softer consistency or served whole to toddlers. They can also be served with pureed plantain, sweet potatoes, or rice.
Measures to be taken while feeding beans to your baby
Here are some of the measures that could be taken while giving beans to your baby. Start with little amounts: As beans can be heavy for babies, start by giving them not more than 1-2 spoons in the beginning. Essentially, you are making the baby get used to heavy food by giving it in small quantities. Undigested beans can also increase flatulence, so start by giving only small quantities in the beginning.
Do I have to peel the back of beans to reduce flatulence?
This is a common practice done by mothers in a bid to reduce the gas produced from eating beans especially when beans pudding (moi-moi) or beans cake (akara ) is prepared.
The beans peel contains most of the antioxidants, essential B- vitamins and importantly dietary fibre found in beans. So taking off the peel means throwing away all these important nutrients your baby so badly needs. Because the peel is high in fibre, it is likely to cause a little more flatulence as foods high in fibre tend to produce gas. So my advice is to leave some of the beans to peel on, don’t take all off.
BEANS RECIPES FOR BABIES AND TODDLER
BEANS AND PLANTAIN PUREE
One handful of beans
50g white fish or crayfish
One teaspoon palmoil
• Sort beans by removing dirt and washing it thoroughly.
• Peel plantain and cut into small cubes.
• Place both beans and plantain in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover them and cook till very soft
• When soft, mash well with a wooden spoon and add in the fish (or crayfish) and palm oil. Allow simmering for about 3 minutes
• When cool, place in a food processor and puree till smooth.
VEGETABLE MOI – MOI
One handful beans ( or 100g beans powder)
A teaspoon of vegetable oil
Veggies – green pepper, spring onions, carrot, cabbage
50g Titus fish or crayfish
• Soak beans for about 7- 10 minutes and wash to take off some of the peel. Do not remove all. Blend till smooth
• Wash and cut veggies into small pieces
• In a bowl, mix blended beans with warm water into a dropping consistency, then add in the vegetable oil, fish, spices and seasoning cubes and salt to taste
• Pour into moi moi tins and sprinkle the veggies on top each tin or wrap using moi moi leaves and add in the veggies into each wrap before locking finally
• Place in a pot or pressure cooker with little water and cook for about 15 minutes till set.