Without a doubt, chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are a fab food for baby!
These little legumes have a mild flavour that lends itself perfectly to all sorts of dishes, a wonderful texture that produces velvety smooth purees and they’re a superb source of a wide range of important nutrients.
On this page we’ll show you how and when to introduce chickpeas to your baby and the many creative ways you can incorporate them into his diet.
With your doctor’s consent, chickpeas may be introduced to your baby from 6 months of age. However, many parents choose to wait until around 8 months to give their little ones their first taste of chickpeas.
That’s because chickpeas – like many other legumes – have a tendency to cause uncomfortable gas (or wind) and are not quite as gentle on baby’s developing digestive system as most simple fruits and veggies.
If chickpeas cause gas, shouldn’t I avoid them altogether?
No, although there’s certainly no harm in delaying them until baby is ready!
But some of the healthiest foods around – broccoli, for example – do, unfortunately, cause gas. Yet they also provide huge nutritional benefits that you really don’t want your baby to miss out on!
The best option, then, is to take steps to minimize or eliminate the problem.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the fact that – in some cultures – these types of food are eaten multiple times per day, by infants and adults alike.
This demonstrates that – over time and with regular consumption – the body learns to process these foods more efficiently and the problems associated with eating them tend to diminish.
Please note that these suggestions should to help prevent gas but they are not guaranteed to do so. YOU know your baby best – if he seems to have a delicate tummy, then do wait until he’s comfortably digesting a wide range of fruits and vegetables before offering chickpeas.
And introduce them slowly, following the four day rule, so you can easily spot if they are causing any digestive problems.
Remember: Take things slowly, offering only a small amount of chickpeas at the first sitting, then gradually increasing the amount as your baby becomes accustomed to eating them.
Allergic reactions to chickpeas don’t seem to be particularly common in the west – but in India, where chickpeas are very widely consumed – the incidence of chickpea allergy is far higher.
Thus, it’s important to check with your doctor before introducing chickpeas to your baby and to follow the four day rule when introducing them, so you can easily identify them as the cause of any potential reaction.
It’s also worth noting that your child’s chance of reacting to chickpeas is higher if he is allergic to soy, lentils or latex, or if there is a family history of these allergies.
Chickpeas are known by various names, including garbanzo beans, ceci beans and desi.
They also happen to be one of the earliest cultivated vegetables (those ancient civilizations certainly knew a thing or two about nutrition!).
Desi – widely used in Indian cuisine – are, in fact, a different variety of chickpea to those we’re familiar with in the west.
The type of chickpea we’re more used to seeing is the kabuli variety, which are smooth and creamy in colour. Desi, on the other hand, are darker in colour, smaller and with a rougher coating than kabuli.
Desi, also known as Bengal gram or kala chana, are actually the most nutritious variety, with a higher concentration of antioxidants in their slightly thicker skins.
You can often find desi at Asian stores or ethnic markets, so they’re worth hunting down and giving a try in your baby food recipes! But it’s important to remember that their skins are a little thicker, and may not puree as smoothly.
If you can’t get hold of desi chickpeas, however, don’t worry – the kabuli variety found in western stores are highly nutritious too!
Good things come in small packages – and that’s certainly true of these wonderful little legumes!
Chickpeas are packed with protein, making them a highly desirable part of a vegetarian diet. They’re also a rich source of…
The fibre in chickpeas is insoluble, and whilst that may cause a little gas, it’s actually important for healthy colon function and helps prevent against colon cancer in later life.
Chickpeas are a superb source of energy (as if your baby needed any more!) and should be considered a fabulous addition to every little person’s diet!
They’re very satisfying, and regularly eating chickpeas leaves you less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks during the day.
We love to make these super simple crunchy chickpeas for the adults and older children… try them yourself and you’ll soon prefer them to chips!
You may use either canned or dried chickpeas in your baby food recipes. Here’s a brief summary of the pros and cons of each…
Dried chickpeas may be stored in an airtight container for up to 12 months in a cool, dark place. Cooked chickpeas (or opened canned chickpeas) may be kept for up to 48 hours in the fridge, or up to one month in the freezer.
First, pick through the chickpeas and remove any small stones, dirt and debris (quite common in dried legumes).
Next, we recommend following the soaking technique described above. If you don’t want to go through the entire process, at least do the initial overnight soak – this reduces the cooking time, thereby preserving more of the nutrients in the chickpeas. Even a 4 hour soak can shave 20 to 30 minutes off the cooking time!
Place your chickpeas (soaked or unsoaked) in a large saucepan. Completely cover them with plenty of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook, partially covered, for around 1 1/2 to 2 hours, skimming off any impurities that may rise to the top of the water. If the chickpeas were pre-soaked, reduce the time by approximately 20 to 30 minutes for every 4 hours they were soaked.
Use cooked chickpeas, either from a can, or cooked from dried (as described above).
If the chickpeas were canned in a salt solution, it’s a good idea to rinse them and remove the skins (in order to remove the salt).
However, the skins do contain quite a lot of nutrients and we find they puree quite well, so we prefer to cook chickpeas ourselves or buy the ‘no salt’ canned varieties.
Simply puree the chickpeas in a blender, adding a little water, milk or broth to achieve the consistency your baby enjoys.
Tip – an easy way to transform the flavour of a simple chickpea puree is to cook the chickpeas in a good, homemade stock instead of water. Try one of these delicious recipes:
Chickpeas and other legumes may not be suitable for babies with G6PD Deficiency – please see this page for more information.