When you think of ‘convenience’ food for babies, you probably think of jars of commercially prepared puree. But making your OWN baby food really isn’t as difficult – or as time consuming – as you might think. And one of the easiest foods to prepare for your baby is the sweet potato!
The sweet potato richly deserves its reputation as a ‘superfood’. Ranked the ‘number one healthiest vegetable’ by experts, the sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A. It also contains lots of vitamin C and a healthy dose of vitamin B6, iron and fiber.
What’s more, sweet potatoes are easy for babies to digest, are rarely the cause of any allergic reaction and make a wonderful ‘first food’ (with your doctor’s consent, of course).
Ideal from around 6 months of age – or earlier if recommended by a medical professional – sweet potatoes can easily be pureed to a smooth texture and have a taste that little ones tend to find very appealing!
How to prepare sweet potatoes for your baby
The easiest method of all is to bake a sweet potato in its skin for around one hour at 375 deg F, until tender. Pierce a hole in the skin before you start to allow the steam to escape as it cooks.
You can then cool the potato to a safe handling temperature, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. Small to medium sized potatoes tend to work best, as larger potatoes may have a ‘woody’ texture and taste less sweet. The flesh is then ready to serve just as it is, or to use in a recipe.
Sweet potatoes may also be peeled, diced then steamed – or boiled in a little water – until tender. Steaming is the best option, as it preserves more of the water-soluble nutrients for your baby. If you choose to boil them, however, then add the cooking water back into the puree, to ensure your little one doesn’t miss out on any of the nutrients that may have leached into it.
Cooked, cooled sweet potato dice also make a fantastic finger food, particularly when dusted with a little cinnamon!
Here’s a simple recipe to help you introduce sweet potato to YOUR little one, combining this nutritious veggie with the sweetness of apple.
Sweet Potato and Apple Puree
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small dessert apple, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup pure, unsweetened apple juice*
*You could also use a low sodium chicken/vegetable broth or plain water.
Put the sweet potato and apple dice into a small saucepan.
Pour in the apple juice and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 to 10 mins, until the dice are tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sweet potato and apple dice to a blender and process until smooth, adding as much of the cooking liquid as you wish until baby’s puree is the texture you desire.
Christine Albury is a mother of five and lives in Abaco. She is the owner/editor of Homemade Baby Food Recipes – your complete guide to solid feeding during baby’s first year.