The Benefits of Sweet Potatoes for Babies
If we were making a dream team of ingredients for your baby’s first food menu, sweet potatoes would probably top the list. Sweet potato recipes for babies are delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. Want to know more about this starchy superstar? Keep reading!
Here’s what you need to know about feeding sweet potatoes to your baby or toddler.
What Are Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are a tuberous (try saying that to your kid without giggling) root vegetable that grow from a flowering plant. The skin color varies from white, yellow, red, purple, or brown, while the insides range from white to orange-red.
While they are often called “yams” in American grocery stores, truthfully very few U.S. stores carry real yams. True yams are native to Africa and Asia and are starchier and drier than sweet potatoes―and they’re typically only available in specialty markets. So, what’s the difference between “yams” and “sweet potatoes” on your grocery store shelf? Soft sweet potatoes (with a deep orange flesh―think what your nana serves at Thanksgiving) are typically labeled yams while firm sweet potatoes (with golden skin and lighter flesh) are dubbed sweet potatoes. No matter which you pick, though, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals—and are a pretty delicious part of a healthy diet.
What Are Some the Benefits of Sweet Potatoes?
- A healthier gut. Sweet potatoes are a great way to add both soluble (the kind that absorbs water and softens stools) and insoluble fiber (the kind that helps you feel fuller without too many extra calories) to mealtime.
- Strengthening developing eyes. Ready for a tasty one-two punch? Sweet potatoes are sources of both Vitamin A—which gives growing eyes a needed nutrient boost—and beta-carotene—which Vitamin A needs to synthesize in the body. This dynamic duo is especially helpful for developing eyes.
Can Babies Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Babies and sweet potatoes are a perfect pair! Not only do they contain nutrients to help your baby’s eyes grow and develop, but they also contain vitamins and minerals those tiny growing bodies need to hit their milestones on time. Plus— thanks to that sweet flavor—little ones tend to love them, making them a popular pick for baby’s first food.
Sweet Potato Recipes for Babies
Sweet potatoes’ texture lends itself to a variety of serving options, making it a great, easy option for homemade baby food. For first solids, you can introduce sweet potatoes as a purée blended with other superfoods, fats, and fresh spices for a balanced meal. The sweet taste tends to mask more bitter vegetables, so it can be a great companion when introducing a new veggie or flavor that your little one might otherwise spit out. This will help shape your baby for adventurous eating later in life.
As your baby gets bigger, try serving the same meal combinations as finger food. Just be sure to bake or steam the sweet potatoes long enough so that the flesh is soft enough to mash between gums or newly budding teeth!