When can babies eat sweet potato?
Sweet potatoes can be introduced as soon as your baby is ready for solids, which is usually around 6 months of age. Dense in nutrients, sweet potatoes have long been on the list of common first baby foods, typically as a purée. If you are willing to let your baby self-feed and get messy, sweet potatoes provide a colorful, inexpensive, and fun tactile experience for babies starting out on solid food. Babies can easily scoop up a handful of soft potato, squash it into their mouths, and finger paint as they go.
Are sweet potatoes healthy for my baby?
Yes, in moderation. Not to be confused with rougher, drier yams, sweet potatoes range from yellow to bright orange and are tapered at both ends. They are nutritionally dense and one of the best sources of vitamin A (necessary for development of vision), vitamin C, B6 and potassium. Most babies love sweet potatoes so they can be a great “safety” food for picky eaters. By all means, pop those potatoes into the oven and give your baby the opportunity to scoop away beneath the sweet flesh. Just don’t forget all the other wonderful veggies out there!
Sweet potatoes, along with rice, carrots and seafood contain trace amounts of heavy metals such as lead and arsenic. If you are offering your baby a wide variety of foods, you need not worry. However, if you are relying on sweet potatoes multiple times a week or regularly offering your baby rice puff snacks, baby rice cereal, or processed baby food in jars or pouches (organic or not), you may want to rethink your meal planning to limit your baby’s exposure to these metals.
Are sweet potatoes a common choking hazard for my baby?
If cooked to a soft consistency, sweet potatoes should not be a choking hazard for babies. It’s important to note, however, that one can choke on any food (or liquid) so always remain close to your baby during meals.
Are sweet potatoes a common allergen?
No. Allergies to sweet potatoes are rare, though in theory, a person can be allergic to any food.
How do you prepare sweet potatoes for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 9 months old: Offer mashed sweet potatoes with some olive oil or butter for hand-scooping. You can also pre-load spoons with mashed sweet potato and let your baby suck on them. For slightly more advanced eaters try large spears of sweet potato fries (see recipe).
9 to 12 months old: At this age, your baby’s pincer grasp (where the thumb and forefinger meet) is developing. As such it is a great time to move down in food size to small bite-size pieces of cooked sweet potato. Your child will likely continue to enjoy mashed potatoes and spears of sweet potato fries as well.
12 to 24 months old: If your child is enamored with sweet potatoes as many toddlers are, use them as a gateway to other foods, such as lentil and bean salads, stews and thick soups. Want to get fancy? Try this Sweet Potato “Toast” recipe—perfect for a Mommy & Me brunch.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Recipe: Sweet Potato Fries
- 3 sweet potatoes
- Avocado oil, coconut oil or high heat olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400. Peel the skin off the potatoes and wash well.
- Pat dry and slice the potato lengthwise in half and then into long slices about one inch thick.
- Put the sliced potatoes into a bowl and toss with the oil.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the potato sticks on the sheet in one layer. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Spice up your sweet potato fries with a little sprinkle of sumac or sweet paprika. Just add a few pinches to the bowl of potatoes right after you add the oil and mix well.