So you’ve started the weaning process and you’re looking at what foods might be great weaning foods. You look at the baby food aisle and you see green beans as a first weaning food. But something doesn’t feel quite right…
There’s nothing like questioning to be sure that what you’re doing is right, so let’s take a look at the science behind it. Is there any chance that your little one can be allergic or even intolerant of green beans?
Most babies will eat pretty much anything you give them, but it’s important to be aware that some foods can cause allergies. And one of the more common early food allergies is that of the legume family – which includes green beans. Other common allergies include dairy allergy, fish allergy and soy allergies.
When can babies have green beans?
Green beans are one of the first vegetables that many spoon-fed infants try. You can start them whenever your child begins solids, which is usually around 6 months. They can be introduced to babies starting at 6 months old by mashing them up with breast milk, formula or water
That is also true for newborns who are introduced to solids for the first time through baby-led weaning, a method that offers meals in the form of soft, gummable finger foods rather than purées. If you’re experimenting with baby-led weaning, wait at least 6 months before introducing green beans in finger food form. At that point, your child is more likely to be able to feed himself.
Can children be allergic to green beans?
Yes, but rest assured your little one is unlikely to be allergic to green beans, allergies are very rare.
However, if they are allergic to peanuts they may also be allergic to green beans. Peanuts are technically not a nut (who knew!) but a legume, like green beans. So as part of the same family, if your child (or even close family members) have a peanut allergy then they may well have a green bean allergy. Peanuts are considered a major food allergen but this does not mean you will have a full legume allergy.
The legume family includes:
- Lentils Chickpeas
- Green peas
- Black-eyed peas
- Kidney beans
- Haricot beans
- Adzuki beans
- Butter beans
- Broad beans
- Cannellini beans
- Flageolet beans
- Pinto beans
- Borlotti beans
- Lima beans
- French beans
- String beans
- Snap beans
- Common bean
- Navy beans
Just because your child may be allergic to one of these, does not mean they are allergic to the entire legume family.
What Exactly is an Allergy?
An allergy is the body’s immune response to something that it thinks has no right being in your body. The immune system tries to attack and remove this unwelcome invader (allergen). When the allergen is in your body for a long time, this immune response can lead to symptoms that are bothersome.
With green beans, some babies will have an allergic reaction where they will get an itchy mouth and/or stomach ache while others may end up with more of a skin rash – similar to how some adults react to poison ivy. In severe cases, a baby may get anaphylactic shock.
An Anaphylactic Shock is a medical emergency and can be life-threatening
The most common foods that cause allergies are eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, cow’s milk and shellfish. These will often cause rashes or stomach aches similar to how green eans can cause allergy symptoms.
Symptoms of Allergic Reactions or Food Allergy to Green Beans
Of course, you should still be aware of the symptoms of a food allergy (in this and other foods) and look for signs of an allergic reaction, especially if you’re feeding green beans for the first time.
If eating a green bean trigger allergic reactions as detailed below within a short time of eating (within a few hours), then your child has a food allergy:
- Skin, lip or tongue swelling
- Throat swelling or tightness or trouble swallowing
- Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain or diarrhea
- Trouble breathing
If your child experiences severe allergic reactions caused by any food then call your doctor straight away. If your child has a severe reactions then you might be given an epi pen going forward. You can discuss all of this with an allergy specialist.
Are green beans a common allergen?
No. Green bean allergies are uncommon, but not unheard of, and an individual can be allergic to any food. As with any new dish, begin by offering a little portion on its own for the first couple of serves. If there is no negative reaction, gradually increase the amount over subsequent meals and don’t let them be eaten raw by any child under the ae of 12 months.
If your child does have an allergic reactions to any member of the legume family its vital you look at food labels when preparing foods. Most food allergies and common allergies will be listed on the label.
Ways to prevent Green Beans allergy
As with other food allergies, you may prevent food allergies in your infant by doing the following:
- Before feeding your infant, read the food label and look at the ingredients. Green beans are sometimes included in ready-to-eat foods, causing your baby to acquire green bean allergies.
- Steer clear of green beans. If you discover that your kid is allergic to green beans, you should avoid them entirely. You can consult a nutritionist for advice on other solid foods that can be used in its place.
- Inform your friends and family that your infant is allergic to green beans so that they do not feed him the meal when you are not around.
- Incorporate green beans as a new food into your baby’s diet gradually. This will allow your infant time to either react to or adjust to the food.
How to prepare green beans for your baby
Offer full beans for baby to grasp and chew on from 6-8 months. One she can do pinching and has better gross motor skills (about 12 months) you can chop up the cooked beans into chunks for her to grab.
Throughout infant and toddlerhood, stick to well-cooked green beans. Steaming, roasting, or sautéing are all acceptable methods as long as the beans are soft enough to smush between two fingers.
Raw green beans, which are too hard and rough for toddlers to gum or chew and can pose a choking hazard so don’t give your child these.
In terms of nutrients, fresh or frozen are both excellent options to give your child. If you choose canned beans, look for a low-sodium version and thoroughly rinse them to remove any excess salt.
What are the benefits of green beans?
They are also a good source of fiber and along with many other veggies, green beans offer Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium and Zinc.
In a 100 gram serving of green beans, there are 90 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate. They also contain two micrograms each of Vitamin A and Vitamin K, 13 milligrams each of Vitamin C and Calcium, as well as 1.4 milligrams each of Iron and Zinc.
Green Beans have only 30mg cholesterol per serving.
How to manage green bean allergy in babies
- Cortisone creams: These creams are well-known for relieving green bean allergy symptoms.
- Antihistamines can be used to treat allergy symptoms such as sneezing, hives, itching, and runny nose.
- Nasal corticosteroids: These are nasal sprays that can alleviate nasal allergic reactions and provide relief for your baby’s edema produced by an itchy, runny nose.
You should be aware that you can treat allergic reactions in your infant on your own, but you should not take any drugs without the doctor’s approval.
Are green beans a choking hazard for babies?
Choking is a risk for babies. While chewing, your baby could possibly swallow pieces of raw or undercooked green beans whole and choke on them whole.
It’s best to serve cooked green beans to infants from 6-8 months old. If you insist on serving them earlier, make sure they are very soft and cut into small chunks the size of a pea or smaller to make it much easier for your baby to chew.
The Bottom Line on Green Beans & Children
There are many benefits to giving your child green beans. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C, K, calcium and zinc. .You can prepare them in different ways so that they are soft enough for your baby to chew and digest. Choking is a risk when feeding raw or undercooked green beans to infants, so it is best to wait until they are 6-8 months old before introducing them to cooked green beans.
Children allergic to green beans or with a peanut allergy should avoid them. If your child has a sever reaction to any member of the legume, be very careful when introducing other legumes to them. People who are allergic and experience a severe reaction should avoid other beans until they are older.