If you’re on the hunt for a healthy food for baby boy or girl, you can’t go wrong with the sweetest of carbs, the sweet potato. The amber-hued vegetable is rich in not only carbohydrates but also a number of essential nutrients, including potassium, calcium and a number of vitamins (A, B and C). Nothing but goodness, right?
So when can you introduce sweet potatoes into your baby’s diet, and how do you cook them, anyway? Read on to learn everything you need to know about sweet potatoes for baby. Plus, get two sweet potato baby food recipes to try at home!
What Are the Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes have a long list of health benefits, including a healthy mix of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. The vitamin C and iron levels in sweet potatoes can help to boost the immune system, while the magnesium and potassium (an electrolyte) benefit heart health. And while sweet potatoes are a carbohydrate, they’re a complex carb that releases sugars slowly into the bloodstream, so no worries about spikes here. And they’re high in carotenoids like beta-carotene, which can help ward off cancer.
When Can I Introduce Sweet Potatoes Into My Baby’s Diet?
You can introduce sweet potatoes, a stage one food, into baby’s diet around 6 months of age–around the same time you can introduce most solid foods into a baby’s diet.
What to Look for When Shopping for Sweet Potatoes
When choosing sweet potatoes to make sweet potato baby food, you want to pick firm sweet potatoes without any cracks or bruises (or soft spots). Avoid refrigerated sweet potatoes if possible—cold can alter the taste of these sweet treats.
Sweet Potato Food Allergy: How to Look Out for It
While it’s less common than, say, being allergic to peanuts or dairy, some people are allergic to sweet potatoes. If baby is allergic to sweet potatoes, he will likely react shortly after consuming the food. Symptoms vary, but there could be facial swelling, a rash or itchiness, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, baby could even have trouble breathing. If baby displays any worrying symptoms, promptly take him to the hospital for immediate care.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Baby Food
Now that you’re a sweet potato expert, let’s dish on all the ways you can prepare them for baby. There are three main ways to cook sweet potatoes for babies: baking them, boiling them or steaming them in a baby food maker. It’s completely up to you which to choose (though it’s worth noting that boiling sweet potatoes will help them retain their antioxidant powers while also keeping their glycemic index low). For more information on each option, read below.
How to Bake Sweet Potatoes for Baby Food:
Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and scrub sweet potato well and cut in half lengthwise. Place sweet potato on sheet skin side up. Using the tip of a sharp knife or a fork, prick the skin of the sweet potato. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and bake until sweet potato is soft, about 30 minutes. Using tongs, turn each half over and let cool.
Once cooled, scoop out the flesh using a spoon. Smash the scooped-out sweet potato flesh using a potato masher or the back of a fork.
A blender or a food processor can also be used to puree the sweet potato, and you can add water, breast milk or formula as needed to thin it out. Continue adding liquid and mashing until the desired consistency is reached.
How to Boil Sweet Potatoes for Baby Food:
Peel sweet potato and cut into half-inch cubes. In a pot, bring water to a boil and add sweet potato chunks. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Transfer tender sweet potato chunks to a food processor and blend until smooth. You can also mash the sweet potato using a potato masher or a fork. Reserve some of the cooking liquid or use breast milk or formula to thin out the sweet potatoes to the desired consistency for baby.
How to Steam Sweet Potatoes in the Baby Food Maker:
Peel sweet potato and cut into half-inch cubes. Add the sweet potato chunks to the bowl of your baby food maker. Follow the instructions for your device and add as much water, formula or breast milk as needed to the steaming container. Puree until smooth.
Once the sweet potato baby food puree has cooled completely, transfer it to a serving bowl or freezer-safe container. Prepared sweet potato baby food keeps for one month in the freezer.
Sweet Potato Baby Food Recipes
Looking to amp up the flavor of your sweet potato baby food? Try one of these sweet potato baby food recipes, created exclusively for The Bump by Karen Biton-Cohen. She crafted a sweet potato and pear baby food puree, as well as a chicken, apple and sweet potato baby food puree. For both sweet potato baby food recipes, see below.
Sweet Potato Baby Food Recipe With Pear Puree
(a Stage 1 recipe, appropriate at 4 to 6 months of age)
1/2 cup sweet potato puree + 1/4 cup pear puree OR 1 large sweet potato + 1 pear
- Steam all the ingredients.
- Blend the ingredients together until smooth for a tasty baby treat.
Sweet Potato Baby Food Recipe With Apple + Chicken Puree
(a Stage 2 recipe, appropriate at 6 to 8 months of age)
1 cup cooked, diced chicken (light or dark meat) + 1/2 cup sweet potato puree + 1/2 cup apple puree + cooking liquid
- Add 3 drumsticks or 1 breast to a pot of boiling water.
- Reduce to a simmer and boil until cooked thoroughly (usually about 30 minutes).
- Remove the chicken from the pot and let it cool before dicing it. (Note: If you used drumsticks, remove the skin at this point.)
- Blend the diced chicken, sweet potato and apple purees and 1/4 cup cooking liquid until smooth. Add more cooking liquid (or water) as needed to achieve a smooth consistency.