These sweet potato baby food recipes will help you easily prepare one of nature’s healthiest foods for your little one.
NOTE: Please consult your doctor before you introduce these recipes, or any new foods, to your baby. The information given here is for guidance only and does not replace professional medical advice.
One of the oldest vegetables known to man, sweet potatoes have been eaten since prehistoric times.
They were brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus after his 1492 voyage to the New World and were grown in the southern United States from around the 16th century.
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables and some people call them “yams”, although they are not true yams at all. In fact, they are not even distantly related to yams, which are bigger, with scaly skin and pale pink flesh.
One theory explaining the confusion is that African people brought to America began calling American sweet potatoes “nyamis” and the name was taken from there.
Sweet potatoes are available all year round in most places and may have yellow or orange flesh. The skin can be orange, yellow, red, purple or white. They can be long and fairly thin, or shorter and shaped more like a white potato.
Some sweet potatoes are very soft and moist when cooked and others can be somewhat drier – we find that the white variety can be quite dry, for example, but has a distinctive, earthy flavour.
Absolutely – in fact, in 2014 the CSPI ranked the sweet potato “tops in nutrition of all vegetables”…. so we should all be eating them as often as possible!
(Learn more at Nutrition Action, produced by the CPSI)
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and a very good source of vitamin C and manganese. They also contain vitamin B6, potassium, iron, copper, dietary fiber and manganese.
The “orange nose” phenomenon…
Your baby’s body uses the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes to make vitamin A, which is essential for cell growth, good vision and also has an *antioxidant effect.
But your baby only converts as much beta-carotene to vitamin A as he needs – the rest is deposited in his skin and is responsible for the orange hue (particularly around the nose) often seen in babies who eat lots of yellow or orange veggies.
This side effect is harmless (see Carotenemia – A Review) and will fade as your baby begins to enjoy a wider variety of foods (although you should consult your doctor if you are at all concerned, or if the whites of your baby’s eyes appear yellow).
Sweet potatoes with dark orange flesh are richer in beta-carotene than yellower varieties.
*What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants rid the body of of free radicals which damage the body’s cells in later life and contribute to conditions like heart disease and cancer.
By preparing these sweet potato baby food recipes for your little one, you are getting him off to a very healthy start!
When choosing sweet potatoes for your baby, look for ones that are firm, with no bruises or cracks. Medium sized ones tend to have the best texture – large ones can sometimes be stringy.
Don’t store your sweet potatoes in the refrigerator…
…it ruins their flavour and can make them tough. Instead, keep them in a cool, dark place with plenty of air – NOT in a plastic bag. Don’t leave them anywhere too warm, as they will sprout.
Stored properly, sweet potatoes will keep for 7-10 days.
Can’t get fresh sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes can be cooked in just about any way you can think of! Here are the best methods to use when cooking sweet potato for your baby…
The most popular first food for babies has traditionally been infant rice cereal, but more and more parents are looking for alternatives. Many question the nutritional value of infant cereal and others find that it leads to constipation.
Read more in our article – Is Rice Cereal the Best First Food for Baby?
Sweet potato is gaining in popularity as an excellent first food from 6 months of age (or earlier if your pediatrician recommends introducing solids at 4 to 6 months).
It is very easy to digest, rich in nutrients and is not associated with the constipation commonly found in infants newly introduced to solids.
And, of course, it is delicious – with a subtle sweetness babies love!
You can use any of the cooking methods above to prepare sweet potato as a first food for your baby, although baking the potato in its skin is the easiest!
If the potato you use is particularly moist and your baby is at least 6 months of age (read more about deciding when your baby is ready for solids), then it may not even require pureeing or thinning. Simply mashing the cooked potato with a fork should suffice.
If the potato seems a little dry or “stodgy”, then you can thin it with a little cooking water, formula or breast milk.
Sweet potato freezes well, so you can make these dishes in “bulk” and store them in your freezer.
After following the four day rule, try combining sweet potato with
You can also add a dash of cinnamon to these tasty sweet potato baby food recipes to give them a little extra “zing”!
If your baby objects to the sweetness of sweet potatoes, a good tip is to try stirring in a little natural yogurt to counteract it.
Once baby is enjoying sweet potato, you can also think about trying it with a little pure peanut butter, which experts now believe may help prevent a sensitivity to nuts.
This versatile veggie makes a great finger food, too – and it still tastes great when it’s cold!
For a quick and easy sweet potato finger food, simply dice cooled sweet potato, then dust with cinnamon. These little cubes will be soft enough for your baby to mash with his gums.
Alternatively, try these sweet potato baby food recipes for little fingers…
We hope your baby enjoys these sweet potato baby food recipes.