Feeding families can come with many challenges. Not only do we want to ensure that our kids are getting all the nutrients they need to support their growth and development, but it is also a balance trying to serve food, that you know will get eaten.


Kumara (also known as ‘sweet potato’) is delicious and nutritious. This often-underrated vegetable has been a staple of the Kiwi diet, dating back to the 10th century when Māori first arrived in New Zealand. No matter the age of your young child, kumara makes tasty addition to family mealtimes. While we often only think of kumara’s carbohydrate content when it comes to nutrition, kumara provides range of nutrients, to support healthy kids.


Why is kumara so good for kids?


Being one of the most carbohydrate rich vegetables, kumara is an excellent source of energy. Kumara are a high Glycaemic Index (GI) food meaning energy (in the form of glucose) is released quickly to the body.


Kumara is a source of fibre. A diet rich in fibre to help alleviate constipation and keep your child regular.


Watch out bananas, kumara are also a rich source of potassium. Potassium acts an electrolyte and supports nerve and muscle function.

Vitamin A and C

Kumara is a good source of vitamin C and beta. These powerful antioxidants support our immune system. Vitamin A also supports our vision.

B vitamins

Kumara is a source of B vitamins. Depending on the variety, this includes thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. B vitamins support energy production, and the function of our brains and nervous system.


Each beautiful colour of kumara, provides us with a different array of phytonutrients including phenolic compounds, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Anthocyanins are found in the skin of red and purple kumara varieties and sweet potato with orange and yellow skins and flesh, are rich in beta-carotene. Phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity which can help to keep us healthy by supporting our immune system and overall function of our body.


Kumara as a first food

Kumara is often offered as a first food for little ones, around 6 months of age. Given its sweet taste and that it is bursting with nutrition, it’s not hard to understand why.

Plain unsweetened and unseasoned first foods are best. Prepare kumara by removing the skins, before cooking and puréeing. To puree your baby’s food, you can either use a stick blender or you can push the cooked kumara through a fine sieve. Depending on your babies swallowing capability, you may need to ‘thin’ the texture by adding some expressed breastmilk or formula. As your baby gets older you can transition the texture from a puree to a mash (approx. 7 – 9 months) and finally moving to peeled, cooked kumara chunks as finger foods from about 8 months of age.


Kumara as part of a healthy diet for young children

Children need to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. From 12 months onwards, your little one should be eating the same foods as the rest of the family, rather than eating a separate ‘kids’ meal. Shared family mealtimes are a wonderful way for your child to see you eating and enjoying a wide variety of foods available. By role modelling, they realise that one day they will also enjoy a wide range of foods like you do.

How many vegetables does my child need to eat each day?

  • Toddlers (1-2 years) at least 2-3 serves
  • Pre-schoolers (from 2 years until their 5th birthday) at least 2 servings of vegetables and,
  • School aged children (aged 5 – 12), at least 3 servings of vegetables for


Tips for fussy eating kids

It can be frustrating when your little person doesn’t want to try a new food. However, it can take many attempts before a child will accept any new food, kumara included. Continue to offer your child new foods to try, including reintroducing foods they may have declined in the past. Make mealtimes more about an opportunity to explore food, rather than focusing on what gets eaten or doesn’t! Let your child use all their senses by touching the new food, seeing it, smelling it, hearing what it sounds like and eventually tasting it. Be guided by your child – let them decide what they eat from what you have provided and how much they eat. And above all make mealtimes fun and pressure-free. Enjoy!

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