When can babies eat spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready for solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
Background and origins of spaghetti squash
Squashes are an ancient agricultural crop, with some estimates tracing back the vegetable’s cultivation to 10,000 years ago in Mexico, the native terrain of spaghetti squash.1 Today spaghetti squash is grown around the world, comes in different hues of orange, and goes by different names: golden macaroni, noodle squash, spaghetti marrow, and vegetable spaghetti.
As its name suggest, spaghetti squash looks like pasta. Once cooked, the squash’s flesh can be pulled into thin strands—a terrific gluten-free alternative to traditional noodles and an excellent texture to introduce to your baby early on.
Is spaghetti squash healthy for babies?
Yes. Spaghetti squash contains vitamin C and B vitamins like B6 and folate that help power your baby’s metabolism. Spaghetti squash is also packed with beta carotene, which your baby’s body converts to vitamin A to support healthy skin, immunity, and vision. In fact, beta-carotene is only one of a dozen carotenoids (or plant nutrients) present in spaghetti squash, making it one of the best food sources for these potent antioxidants.
Is spaghetti squash a common choking hazard for babies?
Cooked spaghetti squash should not pose a high choking risk so long as all seeds and the rind have been removed, and the flesh has softened and cut into age-appropriate shapes for your baby to safely consume. Check out cooking methods and age-appropriate serving ideas!
Is spaghetti squash a common allergen?
No. Allergies to spaghetti squash are rare, though there have been reports of people getting an itchy rash on their hands after handling winter squashes.2 To minimize any reaction, wash your baby’s hands and face (plus your own hands!) after handling spaghetti squash.
As with all new foods, introduce by serving a small amount and gradually increase the quantity over future servings.
How do you prepare spaghetti squash 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: Use a fork to pull the spaghetti squash flesh into thin strands, discard the rind, and finely chop. Serving in a bowl that suctions to the table will aid independent eating.
12 to 18 months old: Loosely chop the spaghetti squash strands. Serve in a bowl that suctions to the table along with a baby fork. You might pre-load the fork for your baby or place the fork in the bowl for your baby to try using by themselves. If your baby prefers to eat with hands, by all means let them do so. Using a fork takes practice and fine motor skills, which can be exhausting and frustrating for hungry little ones. Give it time and don’t worry about encouraging your baby to use utensils, to “stay clean”, or to follow manners. There’s plenty of time to learn later on.
18 to 24 months old: Serve the spaghetti squash strands in a bowl along with an age-appropriate fork (pre-loaded if need be). At this stage in your baby’s development, there is no need to chop the strands of squash, but if long pieces are a struggle, go ahead and chop before serving. Also, if your baby ditches the fork and still wants to eat with hands, that’s okay! Eat your meals with your baby and model how to eat with a fork. With time and practice, your baby will eventually follow your lead.
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Roasting methods matter! If you want a soft noodle, roast your spaghetti squash halves cut side down in the oven. But if you want a more caramelized noodle with some crunch (and your babe can handle it), roast the halves cut side up.
Recipe: Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- Spaghetti squash
- High-heat oil (grapeseed, olive, safflower, sunflower, or vegetable oil)
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Wash the squash and scrub off any dirt. Place the squash on a cutting board and slice lengthwise with a sharp knife. Use a spoon or fork to scrape out the seeds and set them aside. They can be roasted separately with oil and spices as a tasty snack for yourself. Seeds are loaded with vitamins!
- Set the squash halves cut side up on a sheet tray lined with parchment.
- Pour a splash of high-heat oil of your choice onto each half, and use your hands to spread the oil around the squash surface.
- Place the squash halves cut side down on the tray and prick a few holes in the skin with a fork. Roast at 400 degrees until the squash is soft, about 30 to 45 minutes. You can tell that the squash is done when the skin gives a little when pressed with a spoon.
- Remove the squash from the oven, and once it is cool to the touch, use a fork to pull the flesh into thin strands.
- Discard the rind and serve in an age-appropriate way. If your baby is older than 12 months, mix a little parmesan cheese with the squash strands for added flavor before serving.
Spaghetti squash tastes delicious with any sauce that you’d mix with pasta—from lemony butter, pesto, or freshly ground tomatoes. Try mixing in cooked meats like ground beef, elk, lamb, or pork along with strong savory herbs like basil or rosemary for added flavor. Not keen on serving meat? Try mixing in fatty nuts like pine nuts or walnuts. And don’t forget the cheese! Goat and parmesan cheese pair particularly well.
- Library of Congress. Everyday mysteries: How did the squash get its name? Retrieved February 20, 2020
- Potter, T.S. & Hashimoto, K. (1994) Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) dermatitis. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1994.tb00588.x. Retrieved Friday, January 3, 2020 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8187500