Fall is the best time to introduce pumpkin to your kiddos because, thanks to an arguably out of control trend, you can find an incredible variety of pumpkin-flavored food and drink – pumpkin spiced hummus, anyone? Take advantage of this fad to teach your little one about the smell and the taste of the delicious fruit that started it all! Here are a few ways to introduce pumpkin to your baby or toddler and get into the harvest spirit!
Introduction for Babies
Pumpkin can safely be introduced to your baby anytime after six-months. You can offer it as a puree, or it can be steamed, roasted, boiled, or even grilled and then sliced into long strips to make it easy for your baby to feed themselves. Additionally, you can add pumpkin into your favorite recipes to change up the texture and taste!
When choosing to cook and make your own homemade pumpkin purees, you want to avoid using the giant jack-o-lantern style pumpkins. I like to use Sugar Pie Pumpkins for my puree. These pumpkins are more flavorful and have a sweeter taste… plus, they have a softer texture your baby will enjoy! They are smaller in size, but don’t let that fool you – they actually give your family more to eat.
A six-month-old baby should be learning the skills of feeding independence, which includes baby-led open cup drinking. Use pumpkin soup to help your baby learn to drink from an open cup. Baby needs to learn to drink various liquid textures (thin and thick) to support their oral motor skills development.
Exposure to brightly colored food, like pumpkin puree instead of bland white cereal, is critical for your baby to avoid future picky eating issues. It’s also an excellent texture to work on their independent spoon-feeding skills too!
Introduction for Toddlers
Pumpkin is also a great taste for toddlers to enjoy too! Since they are older, they can try a few more challenging textures.
Try using pumpkin as a replacement in some of your other recipes that call for winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, etc.). Switching up the taste from squash to pumpkin is a fun, “foodie” way of changing with the seasons!
If you want a yummy treat that is full of omega-3 fatty acids and packed with protein, pumpkin seeds are a perfect choice! However, since pumpkin seeds can be a choking hazard for toddlers, I like to grind them up in a coffee grinder. You can use your ground pumpkin seeds sprinkled over more familiar foods.
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Pumpkin can be an acquired taste. I find that introducing pumpkin in ice cream can often be a huge hit with picky eaters! Making homemade ice cream seems to be all the dessert rage right now, so why not make it a festive activity this Fall? Whether you use a food processor or an ice cream maker, just add 1/2 cup of your pumpkin puree, a dash of vanilla, and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice to your vanilla ice cream recipe. Yum – you’re welcome!
I’ve shared a few pumpkin ideas here, but I would love to hear how you expose your baby or toddler to pumpkin? Share your best tips in the comments and check out some of my other favorite foods to introduce to your little ones located here in my blog. #MsDawnSLP
xo Ms. Dawn
P.S Want the best baby cup and spoon on the market? It’s called the ezpz Tiny Cup and Tiny Spoon, and I designed them! Check them out here.