"Pumpkin can be a good early food for babies and toddlers," says Peggy O'Shea, a Boston-based nutritionist and president of the Massachusetts Dietetic Association. "Pumpkin can be prepared in many ways that are baby- and toddler-friendly. They are a fun food to involve kids in the preparation of, and pumpkin is packed with many great nutrients—it is high in vitamin A, beta carotene, and is also good source of iron and potassium." O'Shea says pumpkin also is low in fat and high in fiber.
Pumpkin can be prepared in a number of different ways. "It can be baked or steamed, poached, or boiled," O'Shea says. "Just keep in mind that the longer you cook it, and the more liquid it is cooked in, the more nutrients that are going to be lost during the cooking process."
The soft-cooked pumpkin can be diced up as finger food for older babies, or pureed for smaller babies. "You can also use canned pumpkin," O'Shea says. "You can also try adding different flavors to the pumpkin such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or a little bit of butter. Pumpkin soup or adding pumpkin to other food such as pancakes or waffles is another great option for getting kits to eat this nutritious food."
Many people like to save and roast the seeds of a pumpkin, but O'Shea says to avoid this for babies and toddlers. "Seeds or nuts should not be given until at least the age of 4 due to choking hazard concerns," she says.
What about allergies? "While the possibility exists to have an allergy to pumpkin, it is not considered one of the top food allergies," O'Shea says. "In addition, there is more likely to be an allergy to pumpkin seeds, rather than pumpkin flesh."
Try these fun recipes on your baby or toddler!
Fruity Pumpkin Smoothie
(For older babies and toddlers)
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
(For older toddlers)