The first time I had a sweet potato chip, I thought it was a slightly mouldy carrot!
Granted that was back in the late 1990’s and I was a Uni student in Leeds, eating at an uber trendy café (and probably spending far too much of my limited student funds)!
A new very trendy place had opened located in an old bank and everyone was talking about it.
A group of us went for lunch, and along with my halloumi and sundried tomato open sandwich, came what I thought were roasted carrot batons.
Odd? Yes I thought so, but as a 19 year old student, I decided I probably just wasn’t up on my foody knowledge to know about such novel food combinations.
I remember thinking they were nice but tasted a bit ‘off’.
Being the skint student that I was, I complained to the manager!
This was supposed to be a top-notch café after all and they had served me mouldy carrots! I was outraged and I wanted my money back!
Rather embarrassingly, I was informed they were sweet potato fries and they weren’t off; they had beef freshly dug out of the local soil just that morning and lovingly hand cut to exactly 10 cm strips and triple cooked with care and attention.
Fast forward 25 years and sweet potatoes are commonplace. They’re available in every supermarket, feature on most restaurant menus and we eat them probably a couple of times a month. They are a fab first food for babies and my two children have grown up knowing exactly the difference between a sweet potato fry and a carrot baton!
Here’s what I love about sweet potatoes and what makes them a great first food for babies:
Sweet potatoes are an energy rich carbohydrate food which means they give your little one a mini energy boost to fuel all their activities and development. Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for the brain and during their first year the brains are growing rapidly.
They are a veggie and that means they count towards your little ones 5-a-day. Ok, so during weaning we don’t actually start counting their 5 a day but that’s not to say we don’t want little ones having lots of different veggies and fruits.
They are also a great source of fibre so if your little one has a propensity towards constipation, including sweet potatoes in their diet regularly will help. You can read more about baby foods for constipation here.
By comparison to the humble white potato, they are a bit of a nutritional superhero! They contain a whole host of nutrients that benefit the whole family including:
· Vitamin A – superb for vision and a healthy immune system
· Vitamin C – needed for the growth and repair of body tissues
· Copper – used in making red blood cells and producing heat in the body
· Manganese – essential for making bones and beginning the digestion of food
· Potassium – important for a healthy heart and to help muscles and nerves ‘communicate’
Before we get to my top 20 recipes, I want to mention a few words of safety when it comes to feeding your baby.
How to check your baby can do BLW
By six months of age, most babies have the three signs of developmental readiness for weaning. These are; good core stability, good hand-eye coordination and good mouth skills, which are all key to safely manage ‘baby suitable’ finger foods.
‘Baby suitable’ means foods that they can pick up with their fists and squash easily. Think of those that will squash in between your thumb and forefinger.
However, not all babies will be able to manage baby led weaning. For example, if your baby was born prematurely they may not have the three signs of developmental readiness to be safe for baby led weaning and so purées would be better for them.
You can check your baby is developmentally ready here.
I’ll send your 3 simple tests you can do with your baby at home..
Here’s a few top tips to make BLW as safe as possible
Make sure you are supervising your baby at all times – never leave your little one alone with food.
Have your baby seated in a well supported highchair to eat.
Start with foods that are squashable between your thumb and forefinger.
Finger sized sticks around 5-6cm are ideal.
Allow your baby to be in charge of how much they eat and let them self-feed.
Avoid foods that are round or coin shaped, too sticky, like peanut butter or can easily be broken off into small or crumbly pieces.
Stay away from potential choking hazards such as grapes, hot dogs, raisins, popcorn, raw vegetables, and sticky, crunchy nut butters (a thin layer of smooth nut butter is ok, but to be sure you can thin it further with a little milk).
If you’re nervous about choking, taking a first aid class that shows you what to do if choking does happen can help you feel prepared. Most baby clinics and Health Visitors will be able to sign post you to a class locally.
As your baby progresses with weaning you can begin to offer different shapes and smaller pieces to help them learn how to manage a variety of foods.
My top 20 baby led weaning sweet potato recipes
Right here we go, we’ve scoured the internet and found some of the best baby led weaning sweet potato recipes out there. All are suitable from 6 months.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and that my silly story at the start gave you a chuckle. Let me know in the comments below which of the recipes you’ve tried and what you think.
Sarah Almond Bushell MPhil, BSc (Hons) Registered Dietitian, MBDA
Sarah Almond Bushell
MPhil, BSc (Hons) Registered Dietitian, MBDA
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