How to Introduce Pumpkin to Toddlers
A pumpkin is more than a Halloween decoration; it is a surprisingly delicious fruit! Yup; pumpkin belongs in the fruit family along with melons, cucumbers and squash. This fruit has loads of health benefits for your little one, including fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin A. Here are a few ways to introduce pumpkin to your toddler and get into the harvest spirit!
Pumpkin Puree: When choosing a pumpkin to cook and make purees, you want to avoid using the huge jack-o-lantern style pumpkins. Toddlers have a hard time eating the larger pumpkins flesh, as it is rough, stringy, hard to chew and has a bland taste. I personally 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 kids will enjoy! They are smaller in size, but don’t let that fool you – they actually give you more to eat. Try using your pumpkin puree:
- In pancake or waffle mix
- As a baby food
- As a dipper for French Toast sticks
- Mixed in with yogurt or applesauce
- Mixed in with syrup, whipped cream or honey
- In your muffin, cookie or bread mix
- In soups
- And, of course, for pie!
Pumpkin Seeds: 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 in frozen yogurt bark
- Sprinkled in trail mix
- Sprinkled on soups
- Sprinkled on salads
- Sprinkled in cereal
- Sprinkled on yogurt
- For the crumbling feeding technique
Pumpkin Ice Cream: Pumpkin can be an acquired taste. With hesitant eaters, I find that introducing this new taste in ice cream is a huge hit! Making homemade ice cream seems to be 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!
Pumpkin Switch: 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!
How did you introduce the taste of pumpkin to your toddler? Have you tried pumpkin ice cream? #ezpzfun #pumpkin #pumpkineverything
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.