Sweet potato is the perfect first food for babies. Here's how to cook it as well as serving suggestions and recipes for 6 months and up.
When can babies eat sweet potatoes?
This nutritious vegetable can be offered to babies as soon as they’re ready to start solids, usually around 6 months. It’s important to remember that your baby is unique and that rather than going by the calendar, you need to make sure your baby is DEVELOPMENTALLY ready to start solids.
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Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. In fact, orange sweet potatoes, along with carrots, are one of the best food sources of beta-carotene.
Once consumed, the body converts it to vitamin A, which is key for good vision, cell growth, and a healthy immune system.
They are also a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which play a critical role in improving gut health.
Sweet Potato Varieties
Did you know that there are thousands of varieties grown around the world? They come in various sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and flavors. But they can be narrowed down to these three flesh colors.
- Orange flesh, which includes Garnet and jewels, are the most common variety.
- White or cream flesh, such as Korean sweet potatoes and Murasaki, are starchier and drier in texture.
- Purple flesh, such as Stokes and Okinawan, have a rich and creamy texture. They are also denser and drier than the orange sweet potatoes
They contain similar vitamin and mineral content and are are all wonderful to introduce to your baby. Where they differ is their antioxidant profile.
The orange-fleshed ones are rich in carotenoids whereas the purple varieties are rich in anthocyanins. White-fleshed sweet potatoes have the lowest amount of antioxidants.
Are sweet potatoes safe for babies?
As long as they are offered in an appropriate size and texture, it is safe. Let me show you how!
Note that sweet potatoes (organic and conventional) contain arsenic and other heavy metals that are found in the soil and water. While this may be concerning, it's nearly impossible to avoid these contaminants. So DON'T stop offering!
Just like with rice, as long as you are offering a wide variety of foods and not serving carrots all the time, there's no need to worry.
Selecting the Best Sweet Potatoes
Look for ones that are firm and have a smooth skin. Avoid those with bruises, cracks, or signs of sprouting. Just like with beets, choose small to medium-sized, firm (6-8 ouncees) potatoes. They are generally moister and less starchy.
Be sure to sore in a cool, dark place. Refrigerating will cause them to dry out.
Here are the two best cooking methods for babies. It's VERY important that the vegetable is cooked until soft enough to be easily smooshed between thumb and forefinger.
First scrub the sweet potatoes under running water.
In regards to size, cut into big wedges (about the width of two adult fingers). Once cooked, you can cut into smaller pieces depending on your baby's age. This way you can serve both big and small pieces as I suggest below.
- Place water in a pot, add steamer basket, and bring to a boil.
- Add sweet potatoes, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10-15 minutes. It should be easily pierce-able with a fork.
This is my FAVORITE method. Not only does it taste AMAZING, cooking with oil will aid in the absorption of vitamin A, a fat-soluble nutrient.
How it works:
The hot oven and moisture from the veggies create steam (once covered) making them soft, but because they’re roasted, the flavors become more concentrated.
Simply add sweet potatoes to a baking pan, toss with oil and seasoning(s) of choice, COVER, and roast at 425°F for 20-25 minutes! Perfectly soft and flavorful!
It's ok if they overlap a little bit. It will create more steam resulting in softer carrots.
Learn more about steam roasting as well as cooking times for ALL other vegetables
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up.
- Pierce all over with a fork or knife.
- Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to an hour, until super tender and easily mashable.
- Peel the skin and mash!
Here's everything you need to know to make the best mashed sweet potatoes!
How to Cut for Baby Led Weaning
6+ months old
Pureed - Add cooked sweet potatoes into a blender and blend until smooth. Add breastmilk/formula, water, or even broth to thin out to desired consistency.
Mashed - Whether you are advancing in texture after doing purees or starting with baby led weaning, this is such an easy and versatile way to serve sweet potatoes to your baby.
Simply mash with the back of a fork and add to:
- Homemade baby oatmeal
- Chia Pudding
- Overnight oats/quinoa
- Sweet potato quinoa patties
- Sweet potato chickpea cookies
- Sweet potato tots
6-9 months old
Bigger is better and safer at this age so your baby can easily grab the food with their palm and bring to mouth.
These are actual plates that I served to my daughter at this age. If interested in learning more, check out my 3 month meal plan.
- Orange sweet potato wedge + oatmeal + broccoli
- Purple sweet potato wedge + Shrimp mash
- Sweet potato bean mash + steam roasted red bell pepper strip
- Instant Pot mashed sweet potatoes
9+ MONTHS OLD
As your baby develops their pincer grasp and is able to pick up small pieces of food using their thumb and forefinger, you can cut into small, bite-sized pieces. I still suggest continuing to offer larger pieces so they can practice taking bites.
If you haven't already, this is a good time to introduce utensils. Your baby will most likely just play around or toss it. But it’s still great for exposure!
Try forking a piece of squash and plate on their plate. Be sure to continue modeling. They are like sponges and learn by watching you!
I also encourage you to offer mixed foods often before your baby becomes more selective. If they’ve never had foods touching and mixed together, it will be much harder to get them to eat these later on.
Here are some family-friendly meals to help get you started!
- Creamy sweet potato sauce pasta
- Chickpea lentil chili
- Chicken quinoa casserole
- Sweet potato quinoa lasagna
Frequently Asked Questions
Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Since they're very soft in texture, I don't recommend freezing them. If you have a lot of leftovers and want to invite more variety, add them to the recipes I suggest below!
Again, because the florets are so soft, reheating will only make them mushier. Serve straight from the fridge or allow to come to room temperature.
Yes! Cool completely and transfer to a freezer bag or container.
Additional sweet potato recipes for babies
Here are some easy, healthy, and delicious recipes to enjoy with your baby. Try incorporating different types of sweet potatoes, if possible, for variety.
If you want to learn how to prepare other specific food(s), check out my How To Series!
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Babies
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into big wedges
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (for steam roast)
- seasoning(s) of choice (for steam roast)
- Place water in a pot, add steamer basket, and bring to a boil.Add sweet potatoes, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10-15 minutes. It should be easily pierce-able with a fork.
- Add sweet potatoes to a baking pan, toss with oil and seasoning(s) of choice, COVER, and roast at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.
- It's ok if they overlap a little bit. It will create more steam resulting in softer texture.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper or baking mat. Pierce all over with a fork or knife .Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to an hour, until super tender and easily mashable. Peel the skin and mash!
Do you want to minimize picky eating and set a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits?
Check out this 3 month mastering self-feeding program! It’s the closest thing to me being in your kitchen