Homemade Pumpkin Baby Food

Homemade baby food provides a variety of benefits. It's less expensive than store-bought, you can include the exact ingredients you want your baby to have, and you're able to select produce that is in season and perfectly fresh, maximizing the nutrition in your baby's meals.

When you make your own baby food, it's also easy to adjust your recipes for any allergies or sensitivities your baby has.

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as being a good source of fiber. It's also delicious and versatile, which makes this harvest fruit a great ingredient for many homemade baby food recipes.

Pumpkin baby food in bowl with a spoon

Yelena Yemchuk / Getty Images Plus

When to Introduce Pumpkin into Your Baby's Diet

In general, healthy babies can enjoy pumpkin purée as soon as they begin solid foods (around 6 months of age for most infants).

Before starting solids, consider your baby's health history and discuss the timing with your pediatrician.

Choosing Pumpkins

Look for pumpkins that are labeled pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins. They have the best flavor and a rich, creamy texture that works well in recipes. Don't make the mistake of buying a carving pumpkin for baby food! The stringy flesh does not have a pleasant taste and will not make a smooth purée.

In terms of size, small pumpkins that are about 5 to 7 pounds work well. They taste sweeter than large pumpkins, and they are easier to work with because they are more tender and don't have as many seeds and strings.

One 3-pound pumpkin will yield about 2 cups of purée.

Cooking and Baking

You can prepare pumpkin in much the same way as you prepare other fruits and vegetables—steaming, poaching, boiling, or baking. However, due to the high water content of pumpkin, baking is the most popular method.

Not only does baking retain the most nutrients, it also caramelizes the natural sugars in the pumpkin, resulting in a rich flavor and texture.

Baking a pumpkin is simple, too. Follow these steps for baking your pumpkin and making homemade purée:

  1. Cut off the stem, then slice the pumpkin in half from top to bottom.
  2. Scoop out the seeds and strings with a metal spoon.
  3. Place the pumpkin halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 400 F for 30-45 minutes, or until a knife can be easily inserted through the rind. When it's done, the flesh will be completely soft.
  5. Allow the cooked pumpkin to cool, then scoop out the flesh and place it in a food processor.
  6. Purée until smooth.

There you have it, freshly made pumpkin baby food!

Cooked pumpkin will keep in the fridge for up to one week or in the freezer for up to three months.

Equipment for Making Pumpkin Purée

You don't need fancy equipment to make baby food, especially if you're using pumpkin. A plate and fork will suffice for mashing cooked pumpkin, but a food processor will make a smooth puree that's free of lumps.

If you decide to introduce pumpkin when your baby is first beginning to eat solids, it's best to start with a purée that's uniform in texture. Once they master the skill of eating smooth solids, you can begin leaving a few small lumps in.

Flavoring Your Pumpkin Baby Food

Once your baby is used to eating plain pumpkin, you can add new ingredients one at a time, waiting three to four days in between each new addition to monitor for any adverse reactions.

As you introduce new foods, be creative and have fun! Many babies love pumpkin, and it goes well with both savory and sweet foods, making it a great addition to their diet.

Try adding small amounts of spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon to your baby's purée. You can also combine flavors by blending pumpkin with other fruit or meat purées, or mix in a little butter and salt for additional flavor.

Some more ideas to add variety to your baby's pumpkin purées:

  • Add pumpkin to yogurts and infant cereals.
  • Swirl some into purées of bananas, blueberries, or peaches.
  • Top cooked lentils with mashed pumpkin.
  • Mix pumpkin puree with chicken to make the meat more palatable for a picky baby.

Roasted or steamed pumpkin that has been cut into cubes makes great finger foods for babies who are exploring the world of self-feeding.​

Can I Feed My Baby Canned Pumpkin?

Although homemade pumpkin purée offers a fresher taste than the canned variety, you can definitely use canned pumpkin if you are short on time or don't feel like making your own. It's smooth enough to feed right out of the can without further puréeing. Just be sure to use plain canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pie mix is not suitable for babies because it contains added sweeteners and other ingredients.

Nutrition-wise, canned pumpkin is very similar to fresh pumpkin. Both are loaded with nutrients.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central: Pumpkin, canned, cooked.

  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Infant food and feeding.

  3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Dos and don'ts for baby's first foods.

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.