When can babies eat pumpkin seed/butter?
Finely ground pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed butter (thinned with applesauce, breast milk, formula, yogurt, or another baby-friendly liquid to minimize the choking risk) may be served to babies as soon as they are ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months old.
Are pumpkin seeds healthy for babies?
Absolutely. Because they are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, pumpkin seeds are a healthy boost for young eaters at mealtime. Pumpkin seeds (and pumpkin seed butter!) have an exceptional number of vitamins and minerals, particularly nutrients that are essential for your baby’s development, like vitamin K and copper, iron, and magnesium. They are also one of the richest plant sources of zinc, a commonly deficient nutrient in young children.
Pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seed powder offer other ways to introduce this nutritious food to babies. Try drizzling a small amount of oil on steamed vegetables once they are cool or dusting slippery avocado slices with powder. Refrain from cooking with pumpkin seed oil, however, as it becomes rancid when heated.
★ Tip: Brands that offer unsweetened pumpkin seed butter include: 88 Acres, Dastony, Gerbs, Gopal’s, ISOP, Jiva Organics, Living Tree Community Foods, Ostro Organics, Rejuvenative, Radiant Life, Selina Naturally, Sun & Seed and Wilderness Poets.
Are seeds from Halloween/carving pumpkins okay to eat?
Yes, though pumpkins grown for carving (and their seeds) are not bred for taste. Pie pumpkins will produce tastier flesh and seeds, the latter of which have an off-white “hull” or shell that’s edible. Typically, pumpkin seeds (or “pepitas”) that we purchase in the grocery store are the shell-less green seeds from specific varieties of pumpkins. Pumpkin seeds from the fall squash varieties that we bake into pie or carve for Halloween are also pumpkin seeds, though they are encased in their edible shells.
Are pumpkin seeds a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Whole seeds, nuts, and nut/seed butters are choking hazards for babies and children under the age of five, so they must be prepared in a way that is safe to consume.
To minimize the risk, finely grind the seeds or thin out seed butter with yogurt (you may also use applesauce, breast milk, or formula) or purchase pumpkin seed powder (often sold as “Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder” – look for brands with only one ingredient) to mix into foods.
Once prepared, try pre-loading your baby’s spoon with the thinned seed butter and handing it to your baby in the air to encourage self-feeding. If you’re serving ground pumpkin seeds, purchase unsalted, raw seeds and finely grind them with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. From there, sprinkle on top of yogurt, fruit, or other foods.
Is pumpkin seed a common allergen?
No, unlike nuts or sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds are not a common allergen. That said, every human is unique. Watch your baby closely as you’re introducing a food for the first time. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, visit an allergist for testing.
How do you prepare pumpkin seeds for babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline. The preparation suggestions below are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional, nutritionist or dietitian, or expert in pediatric feeding and eating. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Offer scant amounts of smooth pumpkin seed butter thinned with breast milk, formula, or yogurt or sprinkle a scant amount of finely-ground pumpkin seed in warm cereal or on fruit. Use a food processor, coffee grinder, or spice grinder to pulverize the seeds until they are finely ground. Don’t serve ground seeds on their own because they are sticky and likely to get caught in your baby’s throat.
12 to 24 months old: Continue serving small amounts of pumpkin seed butter thinned out with yogurt (applesauce works too but is not as easy to self-feed) or sprinkling the ground seed on other dishes and foods. At this age your baby is ready to try nut and seed butters on toast as well. To serve, make sure the butter is very thinly spread and that no clumps remain.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Greek yogurt is our go-to food to thin nut and seed butters because it clings better to spoons than other types of yogurt. Make sure to buy whole fat, plain (unsweetened) yogurts for added nutritional value!
Recipe: Applesauce with Pumpkin Seed Butter
Age: 6 months+
- Pumpkin seed butter
- Open the jar of pumpkin seed butter and mix well to incorporate any oils that may have separated and risen to the top.
- Spoon 1 tablespoon of seed butter into a bowl of applesauce, and mix well with a fork until no lumps remain.
- Peel and remove ½ of a banana from its rind, and decide how you’d like to serve it to your baby. You might try mashing and mixing it into the yogurt-seed mixture, or serving the fruit in sticks or strips that your baby can dip into the yogurt. Note: if you push your index finger into the top of a peeled banana, it should separate naturally into three long pieces.
Pumpkin seed butter may be used as a peanut butter replacement and will taste particularly good with banana, cinnamon, oatmeal, and yogurt.