Chickpeas are a cheap plant based protein and very healthy food for your baby to enjoy. But coming up with ideas for chick peas baby can enjoy can stop you from being adventurous in the kitchen.
In this blog you’ll find 20 different recipes for you to try, all suitable for weaning babies, and quite tasty for parents too!
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Nutritional Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas, sometimes called garbanzo beans belong to the legume family which also includes beans, peas and lentils. They contain a whole host of nutrients that benefit the whole family including:
- Protein – essential for growth and is especially important in babies who go through very rapid growth by doubling their size in their first year of life.
- Vitamin A – superb for vision and a healthy immune system
- Vitamin C – needed for the growth and repair of body tissues
- Vitamin K – helps wounds like cuts and scrapes to heal
- Vitamin B6 – stores the energy that we get from food
- Folate – helps us to form healthy blood cells
- Magnesium – helps to form energy from food and important to keep our bones strong
- Potassium – important for a healthy heart and to help muscles and nerves ‘communicate’
Chickpeas are also a source of fibre and help to feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Aiming for a diet filled with an abundance of plant foods helps keep our digestive system healthy and chickpeas count towards this.
Chick peas also contain antioxidants which help to protect your little one from chemical stress in their bodies.
But one of my favourite things about chick peas for babies is that they contain iron which is a critical nutrient for babies and one that parents often worry about. Our babies need iron for proper brain development and moving oxygen around their bodies.
Introducing chick peas baby can eat safely
You can introduce chickpeas to your baby right from the start of weaning which is around 6 months of age. I like to wait until after they’ve had their first tastes of vegetables but then to soon start offering iron containing foods.
Let’s look at how to introduce them in weaning.
How to prepare chick peas for your baby
If you’re cooking dried chickpeas, give them a good rinse under cold water first.
You can soak them overnight for at least 8 hours to reduce the cooking time but you don’t have to do this step. The soaking process helps soften the chickpeas, making them quicker and easier to cook.
And it also makes them easier to digest for your baby by reducing the amount of gas producing carbohydrate called raffinose.
After soaking, drain and rinse the chickpeas again, then transfer them to a pot, cover with fresh water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the chickpeas simmer until they are soft and tender.
You can test their readiness by gently mashing them with a fork before making chickpea baby food.
Using canned chick peas
Using canned chickpeas is much more convenient and saves a lot of time as the cooking process has been done for you!
Look for chickpeas with no added ingredients such as salt or sugar. Most cans state just chickpeas and water but some have preservatives added which in the UK has been tested and is safe for babies to eat.
Before using, rinse the canned chickpeas thoroughly under cold water.
Some people find that the chickpea liquid, called aquafaba, can make their babies a bit windy or gassy but it is safe to eat and makes a great egg replacement in baking!
How should you serve chick peas baby can enjoy?
How you serve chickpeas to your baby will change as they get older and their self feeding skills develop. Here are my suggestions:
Around 6 months
In the early stage of weaning begin with chick pea baby food puree or a smooth no-salt hummus.
After soaking and cooking the chickpeas, blend them until smooth, adding a little of your babies usual milk to achieve a thinner consistency. You can add herbs, spices and other ingredients to increase the nutrition and offer flavour.
Now you can start to get a little more adventurous with the texture. Think about offering a more chunky chick pea baby food by lightly mashing the cooked chickpeas with a fork or potato masher.
You can still add extra ingredients to vary the taste and texture. You could also offer little pancakes made with chickpea flour (sometimes called gram flour) as a finger food or make them into falafel balls or sticks.
At this stage your little one’s pincer grip will be developing beautifully meaning they can pick things up with a finger and thumb, so you can serve a whole chickpea that you’ve flattened down with your finger or the back of a spoon to make them a safer shape for swallowing.
12 months +
Now you can serve whole cooked chickpeas just make sure that you’re with your little one and that they’re sat in a supportive highchair to minimise choking risk.
If you don’t feel like your little one is ready for whole chickpeas, you don’t have to give them. You can keep offering the flattened chickpeas and other finger foods instead.
At every stage follow your baby’s cues and change how you serve their meals to suit how well they’re chewing and swallowing. Try to trust your parental instincts, they’re usually right!
Are chickpeas an allergen?
Whilst chickpeas aren’t a common allergen it is possible to be allergic to them in the same way as you ca be allergic to any food. Because they’re not a common allergen you don’t have to introduce them singly.
Keep an eye out for any signs of allergies such as rash, hives, vomiting, or difficulty breathing. If you think that your little one might have an allergy but you’re not sure, you can contact a dietitian who can carry out an assessment to help you decide.
Can I give my baby chickpeas if there’s a family history of allergies?
If there is a family history of chickpea or other legume allergies in your immediate family, you still don’t need to avoid chickpeas for your baby.
When we inherit an allergy from our parents, we inherit the risk of an allergic condition and not a specific allergy.
Are chickpeas a choking risk?
Yes, chick peas are a choking risk for babies and young children because of their spherical shape.
You can minimise the risk is by making sure that they’re cooked until they’re very soft and then being sure to only offer chickpeas in a form that is suited to your little one’s stage of development such as chickpea puree for younger babies and mashed chickpeas or chickpea patties to older ones.
Always supervise your baby or young child during mealtimes, as being attentive allows you to react quickly if there are any incidents.
Can babies have chickpea pasta?
Yes, babies can have chickpea pasta, but it’s important to ensure that the pasta is age-appropriate and suitable for their developmental stage.
Chickpea pasta is a nutritious alternative to traditional wheat-based pasta as it is made from chickpea flour, which is a good source of protein and fibre.
I’m often asked if chickpea pasta would be the carbohydrate or the protein source in a meal and really it’s both! Chickpea pasta in the UK often has rice flour added so if I had to pick, it would be a carbohydrate within the meal with a nice bonus of some plant based protein and iron.
How should I store cooked chickpeas for future use?
Storing cooked chickpeas for future use is simple and convenient. Follow these steps to ensure they stay fresh and safe for consumption:
Allow cooked chickpeas to cool to room temperature before storing. This helps prevent condensation and keeps them from becoming mushy during storage.
Drain and Rinse
Drain any excess water or liquid from the cooked chickpeas. You can also rinse them under cold water to remove any remaining starch.
Transfer the cooled and drained chickpeas into BPA free airtight containers or resealable compostable freezer bags as airtight containers help maintain the freshness and prevent any odours from spreading to other foods in the fridge.
Label and Date
Label the containers or bags with the date of storage. This will help you keep track of how long the chickpeas have been stored and when to use them by. You can grab my free guide on safe storage of baby food here.
You can keep the containers or bags of chickpeas in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
If you want to store cooked chickpeas for longer, you can freeze them. Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag, and they can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
When it comes to using your saved chickpeas, always check for any signs of spoilage before using them. If they have an off smell, taste, or appearance, it’s better not to use them.
Defrosting and reheating
You can cook chickpeas from frozen if you are making a casserole for example, otherwise allow them to defrost in a covered container in the fridge overnight and then cook them in the usual way.
You shouldn’t refreeze thawed chickpeas.
Can I introduce chickpeas to my baby if they have digestive issues?
Lots of babies struggle with their digestion when they start weaning and this is because their new foods are very different nutritionally, to milk.
Your baby’s digestive system is still maturing and some babies are more sensitive than others especially with fibre containing foods.
If your baby does seem to struggle with more fibre-containing foods or is windy or gassy, it’s still okay to include chickpeas but you might want to start by offering them in smaller amounts to begin with.
Make sure that the chickpeas are well rinsed and cooked to wash off any of the remaining raffinose which is the gas producing carbohydrate.
Signs of digestive issues may include fussiness, excessive gas or wind, bloating, diarrhoea, or constipation.
If you notice any of these, I’d suggest reducing to smaller portions of fibre rich foods until your little one’s digestive system has gotten used to more complex foods.
20 recipes containing chick peas baby can enjoy
1. Baby hummus: All the ingredients you’d expect to see in the traditional dip – minus the salt.
2. Chickpea pancakes: These are packed with protein and come vegetable goodness too.
3. Chickpea and Sweet Potato puree: Cooked chickpeas blended with sweet potatoes, cauliflower and carrots, making a delicious first food.
4. Chickpea and Carrot spread: Blended chickpeas mixed with steamed carrots, wonderful spread on toast as a finger food.
5. Chickpea and Spinach baby food: Cooked chickpeas blended with steamed spinach, offering iron and other essential vitamins.
6. Chickpea and Apple nibbles: Pureed chickpeas combined with grated apple, creating a naturally sweet and wholesome treat.
7. Chickpea puree with Banana and sweet potato: Blended chickpeas and sweet potato mixed with ripe mashed banana for a creamy baby dessert.
8. Iron rich baby pasta: Using chickpea pasta with a red lentil source for a baby recipe that is loaded with iron and vegetables.
9. Courgette fritters: Made using chickpea flour and gently spiced. A fab finger food.
10. Kiwi, spinach, pear and Chickpea puree: A sweeter puree of chickpeas blended with spinach, soft ripe kiwi and pear creating a naturally sweet option.
11. Chickpea and Butternut Squash Mash: Mashed chickpeas combined with roasted butternut squash, providing a creamy and comforting meal.
12. Blueberry chickpea with rosemary puree: Blended chickpeas and blueberries, offering a burst of antioxidants and natural sweetness.
13. Curried chickpea cauliflower: Cooked chickpeas mixed with steamed cauliflower and spices, a lovely mild first curry.
14. Baby falafel: Chickpeas mashed with spices, rolled into balls and fried perfect for little hands.
15. Green pea hummus: Blended chickpeas combined with cooked and mashed peas, a lovely green coloured dip.
16. Baby chickpea curry: A tasty curry full of spices and wonderful veggies
17. Fruity chickpea cookies: No added sugar cookies which are high in fibre and packed with goodness, nice for parents to nibble on too.
18. Dip dip chickpea and carrot pancakes: designed for dipping into a soft boiled egg!
19. Chickpea biryani: A spiced rice dish that’s a balanced meal cooked in one pot.
20. Asparagus, chickpea and parmesan mash: a mixed vegetable mash with some added parmesan. Some wonderful strong flavours for weaning.