I noticed a pattern with Russell…he would immediately go for new foods that looked vibrant and colorful, but the starchy foods – essential carbs for baby – were really hard for him to get excited about. Honestly this is not the problem I was expecting… How to make these energy boosting foods more exciting? Read on to learn how we can use our baby’s natural curiosity to their advantage.

Do Babies Even Need Carbs?

The short answer is, yes! I was wondering the same thing. After all, carbs get a bad rap these days. That’s because we have a lot of carbs in our diet that are ultra processed and unnecessary for a healthy diet. Plus, if we eat them and don’t use them, we don’t lose them. We store them as fat. We must eat essential, healthy carbs (see below) that are whole foods *and also* be active. Active like these incredibly energetic babies we have on our hands!

If there’s one thing a baby needs that is literally growing at lightning speed – their whole body, their brain, and with their constant engagement in physical activity – it is carbs. Do you ever feel like your baby wakes up in the morning bigger than the night before? It’s because they ARE bigger! So yes – babies need healthy carbs at every meal to both avoid fatigue and for consistent body and brain development.

How to Make Carbs More Exciting + More Nutritious

It’s funny because now that Russell has learned to love white foods, this is not an issue. But for a while the oatmeal, potatoes, rice, grits, tortilla, etc.. stayed on the plate, were the last to be touched, or required multiple introductions. While the peaches, peas, tomatoes, were lunged at as soon as we put him in his seat. What helped the switch for us was both getting a better of understanding of which carbs babies really need, and grabbing and holding babies’ interest with colorful carbs.

Choose Whole Foods

So grateful for my friends over at Kyria Health for sending me Fullscript’s very nifty healthy carb diagram. Isn’t this so helpful? The carbs we should be eating are mostly colorful, whole foods. A few of my favorites are sweet potatoes, chickpeas and oatmeal. At one point I thought Russell was going to turn into a banana, so this diagram – and learning how much daily energy they burn just growing – made me feel so much better about that!

Think Colorful!

Bright colors can naturally draw baby’s attention and curiosity. Lucky for us grandma was growing all sorts of colorful potatoes in her garden! Red, purple, purpley-blue, yellow, and white potatoes made for a much more exciting starchy side. Colorful mashed potatoes were much more exciting for him and he dove right in. One of the wonderful things about growing your own food is the potential for different varieties that can be so fun for children. And then a bonus – I found he was more excited about white potatoes after being introduced to the colorful version. woohoo!

Baby eating Mashed Potatoes

One of my favorite features of baby-led weaning is using babies’ natural curiosity to their benefit. So beyond these red and blue potatoes, it got me thinking of how we can make starchy foods more interesting and colorful. I turned oatmeal purple, check out the recipe here, and added sprinkles to our typical mashed potato recipe.

A Diced Chives on a Wooden Chopping Board

Sprinkles? Yes. Keep the skin on new potatoes when you boil them, just make sure they are shredded finely and not in huge pieces, and you have some red sprinkles. Or add in some chopped chives to make green spots that pop out and baby gets curious. My 7 month old loves looking at spots! Spots on the carpet, freckles on my arm, and now green spots in his potatoes! One thing I love about this age – it’s the simple things…

Another very fun farmers’ market find I had recently are these red, stone ground grits. Aren’t these beautiful? What other colorful foods gets your baby going? Let me know in the comments!

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