It’s no surprise that sweet potatoes are a favorite in our house, so using sweet potato for baby led weaning first foods was natural for us.
Sweet potatoes are just one of those foods that we always have on hand and use in just about everything. Plus, sweet potatoes for babies are extremely nutrient-dense and easy to introduce.
There is no shortage of things to make with sweet potatoes, and many baby led sweet potato recipes are easily modified.
This post will show you how to cut sweet potatoes in different shapes and textures for baby if you choose to use sweet potatoes in your baby led weaning journey.
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Table of contents
- Sweet Potatoes for Babies: Nutrition and Benefits
- How To Cook Sweet Potato for Baby Led Weaning
- Benefits of Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
- Baby Led Weaning Utensils and Tools
- Baby Led Weaning Signs of Readiness
- Sweet Potato Recipes for Baby Led Weaning
- Baby Led Weaning Sweet Potato FAQ
Sweet Potatoes for Babies: Nutrition and Benefits
When deciding how to start baby led weaning, you first want to research food options and pick something that your family regularly eats. You want to be eating what baby eats.
For us, sweet potatoes for baby led weaning was a no brainer.
Sweet potatoes for babies are a wonderful first food because they have a great nutrition profile, but also a texture that can be modified in so many ways.
Using sweet potato for baby finger food just makes sense.
They blend well with nearly everything and are great for babies, kids and adults alike.
Some other baby led weaning starter foods include beef (great iron source), pumpkin, avocado or eggs.
Nutritionally, sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, carbohydrates, and a slew of antioxidants, which are great for overall health.
Sweet potatoes also offer the perfect enhancement to make one meal and serve it in a variety of ways and textures for everyone at the table, such as baked, mashed, sauteed, or blended into other foods.
How To Cook Sweet Potato for Baby Led Weaning
When figuring out how to cook sweet potatoes for babies, you have a few options.
If I’m choosing sweet potatoes for baby finger foods, I’ll always top it with or serve it with some sort of fat. Fat is important for protects the growing brain of babies, plus it helps to absorb the fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin A, present in sweet potatoes.
Serving sweet potatoes with a fat source, like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or nut butter, will help Vitamin A, D, E and K absorption.
Also, pairing sweet potatoes with an iron source, like beef (like in these baby led weaning meatballs), poultry or lentil hummus, can help the baby better absorb iron, as the Vitamin C in sweet potatoes is a great helper.
When deciding how to prepare sweet potato for baby, it may depend on the stage of feeding you’re in and how advanced baby is.
When baby is able to pick up thinner items, including sweet potato spaghetti could be another fun and nutrient-dense option!
There are several sweet potato baby food recipe combinations, or even just preparing sweet potatoes in various ways for baby.
Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes for baby led weaning.
Sweet Potato Fries For Baby
If you are wanting to serve baby led weaning sweet potatoes in a handheld fashion, you can cut sweet potatoes into fry shape, and cook with your favorite choice of fat (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) and serve to baby.
Sweet potato fries for babies are soft and easy to chew, even without teeth. You can add some herbs (be careful on the salt), and serve with a dipping sauce, like full fat greek yogurt, peanut butter, butter, mashed avocado, hummus or oil.
Sweet Potato Wedges for Baby
You could also cook sweet potatoes as wedges and serve them that way, which would also fall within the self-feeding realm. These are similar to roasted sweet potatoes for babies. Remove most of the skin – you can keep some on for grip if you want.
Make sure they aren’t too hard or circle shape, but thick enough that baby can hold them and soft enough that they can mash with their gums or teeth.
These are kind of like sweet potato fingers for baby to hold.
You can even add some spices if your baby is more advanced, though don’t go crazy on the salt, as babies kidneys are immature and can’t filter out high amounts of salt.
Baked Sweet Potato for Baby
To make a baked sweet potato for baby, just bake a sweet potato and top with butter, peanut butter or a little oil and let baby get their hands dirty and dig in, literally.
Make sure that it’s not too crisp or burnt. You want the interior to be very soft (similar to a mashed consistency).
Another way to cook a baked sweet potato is in the microwave, which I do often. Take a fork and put a few holes in the sweet potato, and then microwave for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potato.
It is cooked through when it’s no longer hard and a fork mashes it easily. Let it cool for baby!
Mashed Sweet Potato Puree
Mashing sweet potato and serving with butter, yogurt or avocado is also a great way. You can even mash in flax seeds or chia seeds with it. This is one of my favorite easy sweet potato recipes for babies.
When mashing sweet potatoes, there are several sweet potato baby food combinations available. You can even add mashed sweet potatoes into muffins and baked goods. Check out these baby led weaning muffins for ideas!
No matter how I serve sweet potatoes to babies, I like to have a dipping sauce, like full fat plain greek yogurt, mashed avocado or even applesauce.
As kids grow older to toddlers, I’ll sometimes serve with ketchup too! Here are several sweet potato recipes for toddlers and ideas.
I also utilize the freezer often because frozen meals for toddlers and babies can make your life so much easier, and sweet potatoes are easy to freeze!
Benefits of Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
Baby led weaning is essentially a way of introducing solids to baby in which they feed themselves.
We have loved baby led weaning and have used it for both kiddos as a way to introduce foods. Like any parent, I want my child to be an adventurous eater, try different foods and textures, and have a good relationship with food.
My dietitian self also wants to promote autonomy and help my child learn self-feeding and responding to hunger cues. I felt that I could better promote that without spoon feeding my child.
I was so excited about starting solids with both girls – I basically created a baby led weaning planner at 6 months with a plan to introduce the allergens, serve adequate fat and iron.
Speaking of allergens, the latest research actually encourages the early introduction of allergen foods (even the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines recommend this).
Early and frequent exposure can help reduce the prevalence of food allergies.
For us, baby led weaning has set the stage for a healthy relationship with food, and has been a great introduction to intuitive eating for kids who learn to listen to their cues and trust their bodies.
Baby Led Weaning Utensils and Tools
You don’t need a ton of supplies for baby led weaning, as you can keep it as simple as you’d like to. However, that being said, there are some products that make it easier and reduce the mess associated with babies learning to feed themselves.
Even with these products, there’s still a daily mess to clean up. But, in the long run, I totally think this way of starting solids!
Here are some of my most favorite used items.
- Silicone Bibs – We’ve used these and these. These bibs are great for the inevitable spills and dropped food. A smock covers their entire upper body, and we used this for messier foods, like oatmeal, pasta and some mashed fruits.
- Suction plates and bowls – We’ve used EZPZ and other iterations for something that sticks to the tray
- Sturdy high chair – You want a quality high chair that baby can sit upright in. It’s also nice to have something for them to put their feet on. Even better if the tray can be easily removed and wiped down
- Splat Mat – This isn’t a necessity but it sure does make cleaning the floor easier. It can be easily thrown into the wash. They have lots of cute designs so you can find one that fits your decor preference.
- Silicone or soft utentils – These are great for pre-loading food for baby at first, until they learn to use them by themselves.
- Tiny cup – The perfect size silicone cup for introducing water or small amounts of milk.
That’s about it. We introduced the little cup around 7-8 months once baby figured that out.
A straw cup is helpful too. We would use it to serve water, and eventually breastmilk/whole milk after one year.
Baby Led Weaning Signs of Readiness
Before serving any solid to your baby, you want to check for signs of readiness.
The typical blw signs of readiness for introducing solids are:
- Baby can sit up well and hold head up without support
- They have lost the tongue reflex (so baby doesn’t automatically push everything out)
- Around 6 months old (The World Health Organization recommends exclusively breastfeeding or formula feeding until 6 months of age, and then adding complementary foods in addition to breastmilk/formula).
- They have a pincer grasp, meaning they can grasp objects and bring them to their mouth.
- They show interest in foods. Babies may start grabbing at yours or bringing objects to their mouths.
Also, talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns! All babies develop on their own timeline, so some may be ready at 4-5 months, while some may not be interested or ready until 7 months.
Sweet Potato Recipes for Baby Led Weaning
These BLW sweet potato recipes can be personalized to your family preferences too. For example, leave out meat if you follow a plant-based lifestyle, reduce sauces, cut in smaller pieces if you feel more comfortable that way.
Sweet potato for baby as finger foods are so fun!
Modifications to Make When Serving to Baby
When making a sweet potato baby led weaning recipe, whether I’m making my own or following one, I do monitor the sugar content. For babies, I’ll omit sugar completely.
For babies also, I’ll really reduce salt content since their kidneys can not yet handle high amounts of salt. I usually add my salt to taste after serving to baby.
For toddlers and kids, I’ll usually cut the amount the recipe calls for. So for the muffins and oatmeal below, you can omit the sugar when offering to babies.
Baby Led Weaning Sweet Potato FAQ
Sweet potato wedges should be long enough for baby to hold them, and thick enough that they don’t mash or crumble when baby is holding them. I make them just longer than finger length.
How often you serve sweet potatoes to babies is variable. The key is including a variety of foods in babies and kids’ diets, even if they don’t take to them right away. You can also try preparing the same food a different way or pairing it with a different side! It takes lots of exposure.
Let your baby self regulate and stop when he/she needs to. In the beginning, it’s about teaching baby how to feed themselves, and introducing them to flavor and texture. Don’t worry about if they aren’t eating much of it – they are still learning so much!
Early and often! Recent research has actually found a decreased prevalence of food allergies when allergens were introduced sooner and more often.
Hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions about baby led weaning or sweet potato recipes for babies!