Pumpkin is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients. It’s also delicious, and the harvested fruit is an important ingredient in many homemade baby food recipes. Here are some tips for using pumpkin in baby food purees.
When can my baby have pumpkin?
Before starting solid foods, consider your baby’s health history and discuss the timeline with your pediatrician.
Generally, healthy babies enjoy pumpkin puree once they start solids (most babies are about 6 months old).
As your baby shows tolerance to new foods, you can add small amounts of spices, such as nutmeg or cinnamon. You can mix pumpkin with other fruit or meat purees to taste. Roasted or steamed pumpkin cut into squares is a great finger food for babies who are exploring the world of self-feeding.
Other foods that go well with pumpkin
The sky’s the limit! Try adding pumpkin to yogurt and baby cereal, adding some to a puree of bananas, blueberries and peaches, sprinkling pumpkin over cooked lentils or mixing it with chicken for a tasty treat for fussy babies.
When you choose foods to go with pumpkin, be sure to stick to foods your baby has tried and can tolerate.
Look for pumpkins that are labeled as baked, pie or sugar pumpkin. They all mean the same thing, but they have different names depending on where you are. These pumpkins have the best flavor and a richer, creamier texture.
In terms of size, pumpkins weighing 5 to 8 pounds (about 6 to 8 inches in diameter) will work well. Smaller pumpkins taste sweeter and are easier to work with because they are more tender and don’t have as many seeds and strings.
Cooking and baking
You can prepare pumpkins as you would other fruits and vegetablesーsteam, boil, or bake. Baking seems to help preserve the richest flavor of pumpkin while maintaining its highest nutritional value.
Pumpkins contain a lot of water, and cooking them by steaming, boiling, or poaching can make them too moist.
You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to make baby food, especially if you’re using pumpkin. A baking sheet and fork will be enough to mash the food, although a food processor will certainly make for a quick mash.
If you want to freeze your pumpkin, an ice making compartment, freezer storage bag, and a permanent marker to mark the contents and date will be all you need.
Can I feed my baby canned pumpkin?
If you’re short on time or don’t want to bake your own pumpkin, you can use canned pumpkin. However, just make sure you are using regular canned pumpkin. Mixed pumpkin pie is not suitable for babies because it contains other ingredients, such as added sweeteners.
In terms of nutrition, canned pumpkin is close to fresh pumpkin and both are full of nutrients.
Storing and handling pumpkin
Pumpkin will turn brown when exposed to air, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are several ways you can prevent your homemade baby food from turning brown:
Bake the pumpkin as soon as you cut it open and remove the seeds.
Once you’ve made pumpkin puree or diced it into finger foods, either use up the rest immediately or freeze it. Pumpkin (in both shapes) freezes and thaws very well.