There’s no doubt that babies are often drawn to sweeter tastes (just like mommy and daddy!). The GOOD news is that it’s possible to meet your little one’s desire for sweeter flavours WITHOUT compromising on nutrition!
On this page we’ve put together a list of ways to sweeten your baby’s food WITHOUT sugar. Instead, the foods below are either naturally sweet, or otherwise seem to neutralize the bitterness in certain foods, making them more enjoyable for baby.
Not only are the foods on this list natural ‘sweeteners’, the majority of them are also highly nutritious.
This means that – by including them in your homemade baby food recipes – you’re not JUST satisfying your baby’s love of all things sweet… you’re providing a nice boost of nutrition too!
How cool is that!
NOTE: We haven’t included honey on our list. Honey should be avoided completely for the first 12 months of life – this post on our blog explains why.
Potassium-packed, ready to eat (with a little mashing) and deliciously sweet!
Adding banana has to be one of the BEST ways of creating tempting dishes for baby. It’s the perfect partner for sour fruits and works wonderfully in baking (you’ll see it used often in our First Birthday Cake Recipes).
It’s also surprisingly good with avocado, certain veggies and even meat (chicken, banana and brown rice…mmm!).
Use a sweet dessert apple (like Golden Delicious or Gala) and you have a fruit puree that’s delicious by itself or as a sweetener for all sorts of other dishes.
Mix homemade applesauce with anything from sour fruit purees to veggies with strong flavours that your baby tends to refuse (broccoli and applesauce are wonderful, for example).
Like banana, apple adds a sweetness to baked items, too!
To change things up a little, reach for a pear instead of an apple when looking to add some sweetness to baby’s menu.
Very ripe, juicy pears don’t even need to be cooked – just mash or puree and mix right in (try pear and turnip, our fave cool combo!).
As their name suggests, these versatile veggies more than satisfy baby’s craving for ‘sweet’.
Mix them with other vegetables or use them to create tasty sugar-free baked treats and finger foods (these Sweet Potato and Apple Pancakes are delish!).
Breast milk has a naturally sweet flavour. Adding it to your baby’s solid foods not only brings about a subtle sweetness, but also lends a familiar flavour that may tempt your baby to give new foods a try!
They’re not as sweet as sweet potatoes, but carrots still take the ‘edge’ off a particularly sour or bitter dish.
We like to cut them into sticks, wrap them in foil, then bake them in the oven at 375 deg until tender. This makes them sweeter than ever!
If you choose a sweet variety (tips for choosing the sweetest are here), then cherries provide the perfect balance when served with more sour fruits.
You can even use them to create a delicious sauce for meat (see our cherry recipes here).
Blueberries – one of nature’s superfoods – are sweet and delicious.
Paired with other fruits, vegetables or meat, they’re a tremendous way to add fabulous flavour and a whole range of nutrients to a meal!
Sweet, ripe strawberries are wonderful too, and pair up perfectly with tangy, homemade yogurt. Do read our Strawberry Baby Food page, though, as strawberries are a fairly common allergen and extra care should be taken when introducing them.
They probably don’t immediately spring to mind when thinking of ‘sweeteners’, but beets fit the bill perfectly!
With their pleasing colour (our babies have all loved that bold purple – just make sure you cover the carpets and don’t use baby’s best bib!) and exceptional nutritional value, beets are brilliant mixed with ‘bitter’ veggies or even sour fruits.
Green apple and beet puree is YUM and makes a nice sauce for meat, too!
It’s a superb way to sweeten baby’s cereal or fruit – learn more about it here.
Whilst not exactly ‘sweet’, there’s something about these spices that tends to mellow out more bitter flavours.
We use them in everything from fruit purees , to veggies, to savoury soup (mom or dad, try cinnamon in your coffee – it really cuts down on the need for sugar). Learn more about giving your baby cinnamon here.
Unsweetened dried fruits
Reconstitute dried fruits, like apricots, by soaking them in warm water or apple juice. You can then add them to fruit or veggie purees, or use them in baking.
Roast your vegetables!
One way to make vegetables sweeter is by roasting them.
Cut into cubes, toss with olive oil and cook in the oven at 375 deg.
This caramelizes their natural sugars and you’ll be AMAZED by how much your baby enjoys them!
Strong tasting veggies like rutabaga (swede) and turnips benefit particularly from this.
This has to be one of our favourite methods for sweetening foods for the whole family!
Unlike other cooking oils, coconut oil has an incomparably delicious flavour that isn’t destroyed by cooking.
What’s more, coconut oil is VERY nutritious, offering a whole range of benefits to your little one (find out more here).
We hope you have found our list of ways to sweeten baby food without sugar helpful. Please do leave a comment if you have any clever techniques of your own!