Sweet Potato for Babies – Benefits and Recipes

Sweet Potatoes Mashed

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The food that a child eats has a huge impact on his dietary habits. It is, therefore, the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are getting the nutrients required for their growth. However, sometimes, it can be difficult to feed babies certain foods as they are generally fussy eaters. To deal with this issue, picking the right ingredients and cooking them in a way that makes the food delicious becomes very important. If you find yourself stuck in a similar situation, you can opt to feed your baby sweet potatoes. They are an excellent choice of food, especially for babies who are just introduced to solid foods.

Is Sweet Potato Good for Babies?

Sweet potatoes are highly nutritious, not to mention delicious. They make for the perfect first food for your baby. They can be mashed or pureed upon cooking properly, and the lovely creamy texture makes it easy for babies to swallow and digest. The mildly sweet taste that it has also makes it a favourite food among babies.

When Can You Start Feeding Sweet Potato to Your Baby?

You can start feeding sweet potato to your baby when he turns six months old. You can include sweet potatoes as one of the first solid foods when weaning him out. Initially, it can be fed in the form of a puree as it is easier for the baby to digest. After two months or so, when the baby turns eight months old, he/she will be able to eat sweet potatoes in the mashed or lumpy form. Sweet potatoes can also be combined with other foods like rice or oats, to increase their nutritional value. 

Nutritional Value of Sweet Potato

Nutrient Amount per 100 grams
Proteins 1.6 grams 
Omega 6 .01 grams 
Fibre 3 grams
Carbohydrates 20.1 grams 
Calories 86 

Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/sweet-potatoes#section1

Sweet Potato – Benefits for Babies

Sweet potatoes have a considerable amount of nutrients that make it a healthy food for babies. They are high in water content (about 77%) and low in fats. Thus, sweet potatoes are perfect for your baby.

Here are some health benefits your baby will get after this food becomes a part of his/her regular diet:

1. Prevents and Resolves Constipation

Sweet potatoes are a good source of fibre. 100 grams of this spud provides about 3 grams of fibre, which can help prevent constipation and maintain a healthy digestive tract. 

2. Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A once it enters our system. Vitamin A improves eyesight; thus, this food must be included in every baby’s diet plan to improve or maintain the health of their eyes.

3. Immunity Booster

Sweet potatoes have a good quantity of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which aid in strengthening immunity. These vitamins will help your baby fight common cold and infections that infants are prone to catching. It is also a great food for healthy and glowing skin. 

4. Good Calories

With just 0.1 grams of fat content and 86 calories per 100 gram, sweet potatoes provide nothing but good calories. This makes it a healthy food option for babies, especially if they are underweight. The high-calorie levels in sweet potatoes aid in weight gain and physical development in children.

5. Prevents Anaemia and Strengthens Bones

Sweet potatoes are loaded with calcium and iron, both of which are vital for growth in babies. Iron helps prevent anaemia, while calcium strengthens the bones. 

Another question first-time parents might have is whether babies can have allergies to sweet potato. Let’s address it in the next section.

Can Sweet Potatoes Cause Allergies in Babies?

Generally, sweet potatoes do not cause any allergic reaction in babies. There may, however, be some side effects that are usually mild and controllable. This is why sweet potatoes are highly recommended to wean your baby onto solid foods. Having said that, some babies may truly be allergic to sweet potatoes, so look out for signs of vomiting, rashes, and diarrhoea. The most common allergic reaction is bloating and stomach gas due to indigestion. Babies, sometimes, spit the feed out also. In some rare cases, babies may also develop a rash around the anus. Sometimes, ingesting dirt left on sweet potatoes can also lead to side effects, such as vomiting and diarrhoea. 

A baby girl eating mashed sweet potatoes

To ensure your baby gets the best out of sweet potatoes, you must select and store them appropriately.

How to Select and Store Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes last a while before cooking them, but only if you choose the appropriate ones. Here are a few useful tips for selecting and storing sweet potatoes.

1. Selecting Sweet Potatoes

It is always best to buy vegetables that have been grown organically. You don’t have to worry about pesticides then. The sweet potatoes should be medium-sized and have firm and smooth skin. If you cannot find medium-sized sweet potatoes, go for the small ones because the large ones usually have a high starch content. Avoid picking the ones that have soft or brown spots, holes or liquid oozing out of them as they may be contaminated or rotten. Remember, the deeper the colour of the potato, the richer it is in antioxidants. 

2. Storing Sweet Potatoes

It is not necessary to store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator; they can be stored at room temperature in a pantry or a dry area in the kitchen. If you store sweet potatoes at room temperature, ensure you use them within a week. If you store them in a cool, dark place, like a cellar or a dark and cool pantry, they can last up to two weeks. If the sweet potatoes have been lying in the pantry for over two weeks, check if they are firm enough and that they show no signs of being rotten. It is better not to use them if they start getting mushy, have an uneven tone, develop brown spots and smell weird. 

Now that you know what care you need to take while selecting and storing the sweet potatoes, let’s take a look at how you can cook them for your baby. We have also provided some delicious recipes you can make for your little one.

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Babies?

One of the most important things to do when cooking for your baby is to wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly before peeling or cutting them. The process is not much different for sweet potatoes too. Make sure you wash them thoroughly to remove every bit of dirt on it and peel the skin to expose its soft-texture flesh. You can use one of the cooking techniques given below to prepare a sweet potato dish for your baby.

  • Baking: Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Prick the sweet potatoes and place them on a baking tray. Bake for 45 minutes, cool, and peel the skin. 
  • Boiling: You can peel sweet potatoes, cut them, and then boil till they are soft. 
  • Pressure Cook: Sweet potatoes can be peeled, chopped and pressure cooked till soft (1 to 2 whistles). 
  • Steamed: Peel and cut the potatoes and steam them using a steamer until they are soft. 
  • Microwave: After peeling, cut the potatoes into small pieces and poke holes all over. Then, put them in the microwave set at a ‘high’ setting for about 10 minutes. 

Quick Sweet Potato Recipes for Babies

Now that we have seen the different techniques used for cooking sweet potatoes, we can look at a few simple recipes to make your baby’s food taste even better:

1. Sweet Potato and Carrot Puree

When mixed with carrots, this dish can help improve eyesight because of the boost of Vitamin A. This recipe is apt for babies who have begun eating foods in combination (7 months and above).

Sweet potato and carrot puree

What You Will Need:

  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato
  • 1 cup of water/ vegetable stock
  • 1 medium-sized carrot

How to Cook:

  • Grate the carrots and cut the sweet potatoes into small pieces.
  • Cook them together in water till they turn soft. Let it cool.
  • Blend the mixture into a soft creamy puree.

2. Sweet Potato Mash

Sweet potato mash is great for babies who are introduced to solid foods. This mash is smooth and creamy, which makes it extremely easy for babies to eat. You may leave some lumps if the baby is old enough to gum them up before swallowing.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato
  • 1 cup of water/ vegetable stock

How to Cook:

  • Cook the potatoes either by baking or steaming them.
  • Mash the potatoes while they are still warm.
  • Add half a cup of water or vegetable stock and whisk or mix well.
  • Add the remaining water or vegetable stock to make a smooth mash that you baby can swallow.

3. Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup

This dish has a nutritious broth loaded with protein and helps in the development of your baby’s body. Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup is perfect for the babies who have been introduced to non-vegetarian baby foods.

What You Will Need:

  • 100 grams of minced chicken
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 cup of cooked sweet potato

How to Cook:

  • Cook the chicken in a pot with some water.
  • Put the cooked sweet potatoes into a blender and add the cooked chicken along with the broth.
  • Blend until you get a smooth mixture.
  • You may add some boiled water to adjust the consistency or dilute the soup.

4. Sweet Potato and Milk Rice

This recipe is rich in dietary fibre, which helps prevent constipation. It also makes for a healthy dessert option for toddlers without using any sugar.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 cup of rice
  • 4 medium-sized sweet potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of milk/breastmilk

How to Cook:

  • Boil the diced sweet potatoes and rice in a saucepan along some water.
  • When they are half cooked, add the milk and give it a stir.
  • Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once it is cooked well, let it cool before feeding your baby.

5. Sweet Potato and Plantain Soup

Plantain is another healthy food that helps in building the immune system. This soup recipe with plantain and sweet potatoes will help bring about healthy development in your little one.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green plantain, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup of chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup of milk/breastmilk

How to Cook:

  • Sauté the onions and garlic until they are golden and tender.
  • Add the plantain and sauté until they turn brown.
  • Add the chicken stock and bay leaves.
  • Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat. Let it simmer for at least 20-25 minutes or until they are cooked.
  • Let the mixture cool down.
  • Remove the bay leaf from the mixture.
  • Blend the sweet potatoes with the plantain and the chicken stock till you get a smooth mixture.
  • Transfer it to the saucepan again and heat it on the gas stove.
  • Add the milk and mix well.
  • Simmer for ten minutes.
  • Serve when it cools down.

6. Sweet Potatoes with Peas and Cauliflower

This is another great recipe for babies over 7 months old. It has all the goodness of the three vegetables, sweet potatoes, peas and cauliflower.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup florets of cauliflower
  • 1/4th cup of green peas
  • 3 to 5 cups of water

How to Cook:

  • Boil the vegetables in water. Add more water if required to cook them.
  • Let the mixture cool a bit.
  • Blend it to form a smooth paste.

The sweet potato dishes mentioned above can be frozen too. If you are a working mother, you can prepare these dishes in advance and heat them just before feeding your child. However, always try to feed your baby freshly made dishes as you will then be providing your little angel with maximum nutrients.

Sweet potatoes are an amazing first food to give your child. It is a natural multivitamin and antioxidant that provides many health benefits to your baby. There are many baby food recipes that you can make with sweet potatoes, like a sweet potato and apple puree, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, etc. So, don’t shy away from cooking it for your little one. It is tasty and healthy too!

Resources and References:

  1. Healthline
  2. Livestrong

Also Read: Benefits of Beetroot for Babies