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Sweet Potatoes for Baby Led Weaning

It’s no surprise that sweet potatoes are a favorite in our house, so using sweet potatoes 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. There is no shortage for things to make with sweet potatoes, and many baby led sweet potato recipes are easily modified.

sweet potatoes for baby led weaning

This post will discuss:

  • The Benefits of Baby Led Weaning (BLW)
  • Baby Led Weaning Tools and Equipment
  • BLW Signs of Readiness
  • How to Introduce Sweet Potatoes
  • How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Babies
  • Recipes for Baby Led Weaning Sweet Potatoes and Modifications

The 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 biting into turkey meatballs for baby

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 eating corn on the cob

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.

6 month old baby smiling while eating solids with gootensil

How to Introduce Sweet Potatoes using BLW

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, that was sweet potatoes! 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.

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.

toddler making baby led weaning sweet potato muffins

How To Cook Sweet Potatoes for Baby Led Weaning

When choosing sweet potatoes for baby finger foods, I’ll always top it or serve it with some sort of fat.

Serving sweet potatoes with a fat source, like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, or nut butter, will help the baby better absorb some fat-soluble Vitamins, such as Vitamin A.

Fats are necessary and extra important for babies, because it surrounds and protects the growing brain.

Also, pairing sweet potatoes with an iron source, like beef, poultry or lentil hummus, can help the baby better absorb iron, as the Vitamin C in sweet potatoes is a great helper.

Introducing Solids with Baby Led Weaning

Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes for baby led weaning. Some will depend on the stage you’re in and how advanced the baby is.

There are several sweet potato baby food recipe combinations, or even just preparing sweet potatoes in various ways for baby.

  1. Sweet Potato Fries – 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. 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.
  2. Sweet Potato Wedges – You could also cook sweet potatoes as wedges and serve them that way, which would also fall within the self-feeding realm. 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.
  3. Baked Sweet Potato – 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.
  4. Mashed – Mashing sweet potato and serving with butter, yogurt or avoado is also a great way. You can even mash in flax seeds or chia seeds with it.

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.

Recipes For Baby Led Weaning Sweet Potatoes

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.

Sweet Potato Baby Led Weaning Recipes

These sweet potato recipes for baby led weaning will help keep things fresh and flavorful fo your little ones, while introducing them to new, healthy foods and combinations!

FAQ:

How long should sweet potato fries or wedges 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 should you serve sweet potatoes to babies? There’s no right or wrong here. 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.

How much should my baby be eating? 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!

When should I introduce the top allergens? Early and often! Recent research has actually found a decreased prevalence of food allergies when allergens were introduced sooner and more often.

baby led weaning eggs on high chair

Hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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