Butternut squash may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Squash originated in Central America, where the plant has been grown by Indigenous people for thousands of years, but it was not until the 20th century that the modern-day butternut variety was developed. A descendant of the curvy Canadian crookneck and a cousin of calabaza, today’s butternut squash has been cultivated to withstand colder climes outside of the tropical and subtropical regions in which the native plant thrives. Butternut squash has a smooth, tender texture with little to no strings and a sweet, nutty flavor—a wonderful first food for babies. Check out nutrition information and serving suggestions!
Zuri, 10 months, eats a porridge of butternut squash and cornmeal, a staple dish in Haitian culture....
Adie, 12 months, eats bite-size pieces of roasted butternut squash....
Julian, 13 months, eats large pieces of cooked butternut squash. If the cooked squash is soft, it’s fine to continue with larger pieces to encourage biting and tearing practice....
Yes. Butternut squash is an excellent source of fiber and offers plenty of vitamin A for eyesight, B vitamins for healthy blood, vitamin C for resilient skin, and vitamin E for brain development. Squash seeds contain even more vitamin E than the flesh!
While all of these vitamins support your baby’s immune system, vitamin C has a special superpower: it helps your baby absorb iron from plant-based foods that are packed with the essential nutrient. That means serving butternut squash with iron-rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds can pack an extra nutritional punch.
What’s more, butternut squash is high in carotenoids— a fancy word for plant compounds, some of which our bodies convert to vitamin A. In fact, the longer that butternut squash is allowed to cure after harvest, the more carotenoids it produces. Studies indicate that carotenoids may reduce the risk of cancer and help regulate free radicals that our bodies naturally produce.
No. Butternut squash is not a common choking hazard, but its seeds can be. As always, be sure to create a safe eating environment and always stay near your baby during mealtime as in theory, an individual can choke on any food. Check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions!
No. Allergies to butternut squash are rare, though it’s not uncommon to get an itchy rash on the hands after handling winter squashes. To minimize any reaction, wash your hands after preparing the squash. Also, apply a barrier ointment (such as pure white petroleum jelly) to baby’s face before eating, and wash face and hands after eating.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience.
Let your baby munch on well-cooked crescent-shaped or half-moon pieces or offer mashed butternut squash to eat with their hands or from a pre-loaded spoon. If a too-big piece of food from the crescent-shaped pieces breaks off while eating, stay calm and give your child a chance to work the food forward independently.
Serve bite-size pieces of well-cooked butternut squash if your baby has developed their pincer grasp and consider continuing to offer large pieces of well-cooked butternut squash for biting and tearing practice. Mashed butternut squash is a great food for spoon practice at this age as well because it grips the spoon, increasing baby’s chances for scooping success and allowing baby plenty of time to get the loaded spoon to their mouth before all the food falls off the utensil!
Offer bite-sized pieces of well-cooked butternut squash along with a fork to encourage utensil practice. Help show how it is used by pre-loading the fork for your baby to pick up independently. If your child is not interested in using their fork or spoon, keep in mind that using utensils can be exhausting for new eaters, and many toddlers toggle back and forth between feeding themselves with their fingers and practicing with utensils. Try not to apply too much pressure—consistent and accurate utensil use will come in due time, and probably between 18 and 24 months of age.
How to cut a butternut squash without losing a finger: Place the squash on its side and slice crosswise to separate the bulb from the neck. Now cut off the flower and stem ends to create a flat surface that lets each piece sit upright on your cutting board without rolling. Next, use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out the seeds. Decide what shapes you want to create—chunks, crescent moons, large cubes—and cut accordingly. Now you’re ready to cook!
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Pediatrician & pediatric gastroenterologist
Pediatrician & pediatric allergist/immunologist
Pediatric occupational therapist, feeding & swallowing specialist, international board-certified lactation consultant
Speech-language pathologist, feeding & swallowing specialist
Pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist
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