Here’s a secret: I used to have the world’s pickiest eater (though she loves food now as a toddler). With such little amounts of food, I had to make sure Sophie was getting enough nutrition, and that’s still the way I approach all our blends at Raised Real. When formulating baby food recipes, I break every meal down to the gram, even thinking about the number of bites a baby would need get the most nutrients. And then I get really excited when we can reduce the number of bites down to one.
Beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in our bodies, is the red-orange color found in a number of fruits and vegetables. Leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are masked by chlorophyll, so they look green even though they have tons of beta-carotene. Vitamin A plays an important role in everything from bone growth, vision development to developing the immune system. It also helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses.
The Best Foods for Baby Vision
Here’s a short list of the best foods for your baby’s eyes and exactly how many spoons your baby would need to eat to get 100% of their daily value for Vitamin A taken straight from my lab book.
6. Red Bell Pepper: 32 Tablespoons
5. Broccoli: 10 Tablespoons
4. Mango: 9 Tablespoons
3. Kale: 1 ½ Tablespoons
2. Sweet Potato: ½ Tablespoon
1. Carrots: < ½ Tablespoon
Yes, carrots still reign at #1. Just less than ½ a tablespoon of carrots gives your baby 100% of their daily value for Vitamin A.
PRO TIP: I’ve included 3–5 grams of healthy fat in all our blends, because that’s all a baby’s gut needs to absorb beta-carotene. You can do the same at home by adding a bit of fat from healthy sources like avocado, coconut or nuts.
If you caught my post on how baby food labels are lying to you, you’ll know why homemade baby food retains twice as much nutrition as the store-bought, shelf-stable stuff. For example, your baby would have to eat three (!) 3-ounce pouches of sweet potato from the leading organic baby food brand to equal the same amount of Vitamin A found in half a tablespoon of homemade sweet potato purée. Baby bellies can hold at most three ounces (not to mention some picky eaters don’t get past a couple bites), so every bite needs to count.
Getting a baby to eat three whole pouches instead of just one bite? Ain’t nobody got time for that.