Homemade Pumpkin Baby Food

Pumpkin puree

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Pumpkin is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients. It's also tasty, which the harvest fruit a great ingredient for many homemade baby food recipes. Here are a few tips for using pumpkin to make baby food purées.

When Can My Baby Have Pumpkin?

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

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

As your baby shows tolerance to new foods, you can add small amounts of spices, like nutmeg or cinnamon. You can combine flavors by blending pumpkin with other fruit or meat purées. Cubed roasted or steam pumpkin makes great finger foods for babies who are exploring the world of self-feeding.​

Other Foods to Combine with Pumpkin

The sky is the limit! Try adding pumpkin to yogurts and infant cereals, swirl some into purées of bananas, blueberries, and peaches, top cooked lentils with it, or mix with chicken to make the meat more palatable for a picky baby.

When you're selecting foods to mix with pumpkin, be sure to stick with foods that your baby has already tried and tolerates.

Choosing Pumpkins

Look for pumpkins that are labeled baking, pie, or sugar pumpkins. They all mean the same thing but go by different names depending on where you are located. These pumpkins have the best flavor and a richer, creamier texture.

In terms of size, pumpkins that are 5 to 8 pounds (about 6 to 8 inches in diameter) 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 pumpkin in much the same way as you prepare other fruits and vegetables—steaming, poaching, boiling, or baking. Baking seems to help retain the richest flavor of the pumpkin as well as keep the nutrient value at its highest.

Pumpkins contain a lot of water. Cooking methods like steaming, poaching, and boiling can make it too wet.

Special Equipment

You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make baby food, especially if you're using pumpkin. A baking pan and fork will suffice for mashing the food, though a food processor certainly will make a quick mash.

If you want to freeze your pumpkin, ice cube trays, freezer storage bags, and a permanent marker for labeling the contents and date will be all you need.

Can I Feed My Baby Canned Pumpkin?

If you are short on time or don't feel like baking your own pumpkin, you can use canned pumpkin. However, just be sure that you are using plain canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pie mix is not suitable for babies because it has other ingredients, such as added sweeteners.

Nutrition-wise, canned pumpkin is close to fresh pumpkin and both are loaded with nutrients.

Storing and Handling Pumpkin

Pumpkin will brown when exposed to air, but this doesn't mean the pumpkin is no good. You can prevent browning in your homemade baby foods in a few ways:

  • Bake the pumpkin soon after you cut it and remove the seeds.
  • Once you've made a purée or cubed the pumpkin for finger foods, either use up the rest immediately or freeze it. Pumpkin (in both forms) freezes and thaws nicely.
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