Tips for Introducing Beans to Children

Getting toddlers and preschoolers to try new foods like beans can be a challenge. Kids in this age group aren’t known for their adventurous eating habits, after all. While in some parts of the world, beans are usual and familiar fare at all ages, for American children, they can seem like a foreign food.

But helping young children enjoy new foods is one way to improve their nutrition and establish lifelong healthful eating habits. Try these approaches to introducing beans into your child’s meals:

Keep it Low-Keyed. Offer tiny servings of beans alongside familiar, well-liked foods. For example, place just a tablespoon of beans on the plate with popular foods like macaroni-and-cheese or mashed potatoes.

Be Patient. Don’t force your child to try new foods, but do gently persistent. Research shows that it can take as many as 10 exposures to get a young child to take that first bite. If your child turns up his or her nose at baked beans, offer them again a week later. Keep offering them so that eventually, they won’t look quite so new and unfamiliar.

Be a Role Model. Let children see you enjoying beans, but without making too big a deal about it.

Keep it Easy. Try mashed beans that can be scooped up with crackers. Larger-size beans like Great Northern Beans can be served as finger food.

Make it Fun. Stir grated carrots into pureed beans to make sandwich fillings and then cut the sandwiches into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Or spread the filling on flatbread, roll it up, and slice into pinwheels.

Get Children Involved. Kids are likely to be more enthusiastic about foods they’ve helped prepare. Let them help mash beans for spreads or stir chopped tomatoes into black beans. If your family has a garden, growing beans from seed is a fun and educational activity for young children.

 

Want learn more? Read 7 Strategies to Raise Children Who Eat Beans.