Pumpkin For Babies: Benefits and Recipes

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Pumpkin For Babies: Benefits and Recipes

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When your child is about 6 months old, he starts teething, and is able to start chewing some of the solid foods you give him. This is the best time to introduce nutritious fruits and vegetables, and build a healthy diet for your little one.

Pumpkin is one such vegetable! It has great nutritional benefits, and is rich in beta carotene. Read on to know more about the benefits of pumpkin in your baby’s diet, and how you can use it in several baby-friendly recipes.

Video: Pumpkin For Babies – Benefits and Recipes

Can Pumpkin Be Given to Babies?

Yes, you can safely give pumpkin to babies. In fact, pumpkin contains several nutrients that help your child build a strong immune system. It also has anti-microbial properties that kill harmful germs in your child’s intestine. This makes it an essential ingredient in your little one’s diet to keep him healthy.

Best Time to Introduce Pumpkins to Babies

The best time to include pumpkin in your child’s diet would be when your child starts developing milk teeth. This process starts anywhere between 3 to 12 months, but most commonly around 6 months. However, it is not recommended to introduce solid foods to your child before the age of 6 months. So, after your little one hits the half-year mark, you can try feeding him pumpkin amongst other solid or semi-solid foods.

Best Time to Introduce Pumpkins to Babies

Pumpkin Health Benefits for Babies

Pumpkin comes with various uses and benefits, some of which include:

1. Essential Nutrients

Pumpkin has many of the essential vitamins and nutrients your child needs to grow. It contains several minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which help your child’s bones to become stronger. The phosphorus in pumpkin can also improve brain functions, keep hormone levels balanced, and improve digestion.

2. Eye Health

Pumpkin is a storehouse of Vitamin A, which is an essential nutrient for eye health. It facilitates good vision both in daylight and at night. It is also rich in carotenoids, which reduce the risk of several eye diseases and conditions. These carotenoids help reduce macular degeneration (accumulation of fatty substances on the retina that cause blurred vision) in both kids and adults alike. Carotenoids is responsible for the bright orange colour of the pumpkin!

3. Improves Digestion

Pumpkins are high in fibre, which aids in digestion. They can help regulate bowel movements in your child, and keep constipation away.

4. Rich in Antioxidants

Pumpkins contain high levels of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant, and reduces the oxidative stress on many organs. Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance in the production of free radicals in your body. Over time, it can trigger chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Your child’s body can also convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A, to add to the benefits!

5. Brings a Glow to the Skin

The carotenoids help remove the free radicals in your child’s body, which helps clear up the surface of your child’s skin, making it glow. It can also keep skin diseases at bay.

Brings a Glow to the Skin

6. Increases Energy Levels

Potassium is a great source of energy, and just one cup of pumpkin is a great source of potassium. It improves the balance of electrolytes in the blood, and improves muscle functionality.

7. Boosts the Immune System

Pumpkins contain large amounts of Vitamin C and biochemicals that protect your child from the cold and flu. They also have anti-microbial properties that improve your child’s immunity.

8. Promotes Good Sleep

A substance called tryptophan present in pumpkins helps produce serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is an amino acid that induces calmness in the body, and allows for better sleep at night.

9. Anthelmintic Properties

Babies, who have still-developing immune systems, are not just prone to microbes, but also worms and other parasites. The anthelmintic properties of pumpkin (the power to destroy worms) keep these worms and parasites at bay to keep your child healthy.

What Is the Nutritional Value of Pumpkin?

The table below lists the nutritional content of pumpkin.

Nutritional Content Value per 100g
Energy 26kcal
Water 91g
Sugar 2.8g
Carbohydrates 6.5g
Protein 1g
Lipid Fat 0.1g
Fibre 0.5g
Iron 0.8mg
Calcium 21mg
Magnesium 12mg
Potassium 340mg
Phosphorus 44mg
Vitamin C 9mg
Vitamin B6 0.06mg
Vitamin A 8510 IU
Vitamin E 1.1mg
Vitamin K 1ug
Folate 16ug
Zinc 0.3mg
Sodium 1mg
Thiamin 0.05mg
Niacin 0.6mg
Riboflavin 0.1mg

Ways to Cook Pumpkin for Your Child

There are several ways you can cook or bake a pumpkin before serving it to your child. Listed below are some ways in which you can prepare pumpkin for meals.

1. Baking Method

After cleaning the pumpkin, chop it in halves, brush them with olive oil, and place them skin side down on a baking tray. Bake for about 45 minutes at 375 Fahrenheit, or until the pumpkin flesh is tender. Remove them from the oven, and scoop the pulp out into a bowl. Adding some butter is a good idea.

Baking Method

2. Boiling Method

Bring some water to boil. Put in the chopped pumpkin, and cook them until they are tender. Drain the water, and let the pumpkin cool for a few minutes. You can either use this immediately, or freeze it. Do not simply refrigerate the cooked pumpkin, as it can develop a brownish orange colour that is not healthy to consume.

You can even feed the pumpkin raw in the form of a puree, either plain or along with some cereal or yoghurt.

Video: How to Make Pumpkin Puree for Babies?

Simple and Easy to Make Pumpkin Recipes for Babies

1. Simple Pumpkin Puree for Baby

Boil the pumpkin in water until it is tender. Drain the pumpkin pieces, and blend them to form a puree. You could even add water or breast milk to get the desired consistency of the puree.

2. Apple and Pumpkin Puree

Chop one pumpkin and three peeled and de-seeded apples. Boil them in water until they are tender. After cooling, mash the mixture to make a puree, and add some cinnamon for added flavour.

Apple and Pumpkin Puree

3. Pumpkin Soup

Making pumpkin soup for your baby is a great way to integrate it into his diet. To prepare:

  • Heat and melt 2 tbsp of butter in a pan.
  • Add a quarter cup of chopped onions, and sauté.
  • Add three cups of cubed red pumpkin, and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add three cups of water, and salt and pepper. Cook the soup until the pumpkin becomes tender.
  • Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes, then blend it in a blender.
  • Add the soup back into the pan, add a quarter cup of cream, and bring it to a boil.
  • Garnish the soup with some spring onions before serving.

4. Pumpkin and Pear Puree

Follow the recipe for the above-mentioned apple and pumpkin puree, substituting the apple with chopped pear.

5. Pumpkin, Bananas and Peaches

Steam one banana and one peach together until they become tender. Mash or blend them into a mixture. Mix this with freshly prepared pumpkin puree, and serve.

6. Brown Rice and Pumpkin Porridge

Brown rice is slightly difficult to digest, so just use about half a tablespoon of rice.

  • Clean and soak the rice in water for half an hour.
  • Steam a peeled and chopped pumpkin.
  • Add the soaked rice to the pumpkin, and boil on high flame for a couple of minutes, then simmer for five more minutes.
  • Strain and cool before serving.

Brown Rice and Pumpkin Porridge

7. Pumpkin and Spinach Roti

For this, you need a cup of finely grated red pumpkin, one cup of chopped spinach, one cup of flour (preferably whole wheat), half teaspoon of turmeric powder, some oil and butter, and salt to taste.

  • Heat the oil in a pan, and sauté the spinach for a couple of minutes, and remove. Let this cool for a while.
  • Mix flour, pumpkin, and turmeric powder, and knead into a soft dough.
  • Roll some balls, and flatten them to make rotis.
  • Cook the rotis well on a pan with butter, and serve with the spinach.

FAQs

1. Is canned pumpkin for baby safe?

It is safe to feed your child canned pumpkin, as long as it is pure pumpkin. Some cans also contain a pumpkin pie mix, which contains starch, sugars, and other additives, which can be unhealthy for your baby. This is the reason why most doctors recommend that you avoid the usage of canned food for your child. Ensure that you read the label to know that you’re buying the right pumpkin for your child.

2. How to select pumpkin for your baby?

Pumpkins don’t generally require the use of pesticides, so most of the time they are safe to consume. But, if you still want to purchase an organic pumpkin for your child, then that is your personal choice.

Pick smaller and less matured pumpkins for your child. These are also called sugar pumpkins, cooking pumpkins, and even pie pumpkins. They have less fibre in them compared to the larger ones, and also have a sweet and firm pulp. These can add an extra flavour to soups and baked foods. Also, ensure that you pick a pumpkin that is slightly heavy for its size. This means that it has greater water content in the pulp.

If you’re buying a pack of peeled and chopped pumpkin, then ensure that the colour is a dark or deep orange. For an uncut pumpkin, buy one with a bright orange colour and without any spots or cuts on the surface. Ensure that it isn’t too ripe as well.

3. How to cook pumpkins?

Before preparing any recipe with pumpkins, ensure that you peel it and clean it with a vegetable brush to remove any dirt. Use cold water to rinse the pumpkin. Then, cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds with the help of a spoon.

If you prefer pre-cut pumpkins, then ensure that you rinse them in cold water in a colander before using. After this, the pumpkin can be used for whatever dish you want to make.

How to cook pumpkins?

Always cook the pumpkin right after you cut it. Avoid prolonged cooking, as this can reduce the nutritive value of the pumpkins. Use any of the recipes mentioned above, or try other pumpkin baby food recipes to include it in your child’s diet.

Your child might love discovering new flavours and tastes, but it is necessary that you consult with your doctor before introducing any new food. Also, try just one food at a time, to better understand if they cause any allergies or side effects. If your child is keeping unwell or is on medication, don’t introduce a new food into his diet.

Pumpkin is a versatile food that goes well with other vegetables, fruits, and even meat. You can try mixing pumpkin with rice, lentils, pears, broccoli, and many other foods to give your child all the nutrients he needs to grow.

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