When can babies eat squash blossoms?
Squash blossoms may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Take care when introducing squash blossoms, as whole flowers can pose a choking risk.
Where do squash blossoms come from?
Squash blossoms transform from edible flowers to plump gourds when left to grow on the vine. From butternut squash to chayote to cucumber, there are as many different kinds of blossoms as there are squash in the plant’s sprawling family tree. Humans have been eating squash since Indigenous peoples learned to cultivate the native fruit in Mesoamerica, and European colonization and global trade later brought the seeds worldwide, where they were bred into the hundreds of gourd, pumpkin, and squash varieties that exist today. One of the most beloved blooms comes from the variety known as zucchini. Also called courgette flower, flor de calabaza, and marrow flower, zucchini flowers are highly perishable, so look for them at local farmer’s markets rather than national chain stores.
Are squash blossoms healthy for babies?
Yes. Squash blossoms contain some folate, a B-vitamin that supports neurological development, as well as small amounts of protein and a number of trace minerals that contribute to the healthy function of many body systems. That said, these edible flowers are overall low in calories and other nutrients needed for healthy growth, so they are best used as one component of nutrient-dense meals for babies and children.
If you would like to cook with squash blossoms but they aren’t in season, you may be able to find them canned. Canned produce is often high in sodium, so drain and rinse canned squash blossoms before cooking to try to reduce sodium levels.1
★Tip: Use fresh squash blossoms soon after purchasing or harvesting, ideally the same day, as they are delicate and have a short shelf-life. Store blossoms on a baking sheet, lined with paper towels to absorb excess moisture, in the fridge.
Are squash blossoms a common choking hazard for babies?
Yes. Whole flowers, when left intact, are potential choking hazards as they can be challenging to chew. To minimize the risk, chop squash blossoms before offering to babies. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.
Are squash blossoms a common allergen?
No. Allergies to squash blossoms are rare, though individuals who are allergic to Cucurbitaceae fruits (such as cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, muskmelon, or watermelon) may be sensitive to squash blossoms.2
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.
How do you introduce squash blossoms to babies with baby-led weaning?
Every baby develops on their own timeline, and the suggestions on how to cut or prepare particular foods are generalizations for a broad audience. Your child is an individual and may have needs or considerations beyond generally accepted practices. In determining the recommendations for size and shape of foods, we use the best available scientific information regarding gross, fine, and oral motor development to minimize choking risk. The preparation suggestions we offer are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for child-specific, one-on-one advice from your pediatric medical or health professional or provider. It is impossible to fully eliminate all risk of a baby or child choking on any liquid, puree, or food. We advise you to follow all safety protocols we suggest to create a safe eating environment and to make educated choices for your child regarding their specific needs. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen here.
6 to 12 months old: Finely chop squash blossoms, then fold them into other foods, from bean burgers or egg dishes to soft scoopable foods like corn grits, mashed vegetables, or yogurt. Mash the finely chopped squash blossom into goat cheese, ricotta cheese, or unsalted butter for a tangy topping to spread on a teething rusk, thin rice cake, or toast. Uncooked squash blossom, when chopped, shouldn’t pose any additional choking risk, but if the texture makes you uncomfortable, cook thoroughly prior to mixing.
12 to 24 months old: Continue serving finely chopped squash blossoms in balls, patties, stewed meats, and scoopable foods like grain porridges, mashed vegetables, and spreads. As a child’s chewing skills become more coordinated and you gain confidence in their ability to chew and either swallow or spit out food, you might try offering a whole squash blossom. It’s okay if the child chews and spits out the food at first—they are learning! Coach the child by modeling how to bite and fully chew a food like raw squash blossom. Showing how it’s done by eating alongside the child can go a long way towards helping a toddler learn. At this age, you can also introduce the occasional fried squash blossom, cut into bite-sized pieces, although it is best to keep fried foods like this to a minimum.
If you need some visual reminders of what to do and what not to do with baby at the table, print our Do’s & Don’ts of Raising a Happy, Independent Eater tip sheet.
What are recipe ideas for cooking with squash blossoms?
From the fiori di zucca in Italy to the hobak-kkok jeon in Korea to the kabak çiçeği in Turkey, cooks like to stuff squash blossoms with cheese, meat, or rice, then batter and fry the blooms in hot oil. It’s best to limit fried and salty foods like these for babies and toddlers, but there are lots of ways for the whole family to enjoy squash blossoms. Squash blossoms can be eaten raw or cooked. When raw, squash blossoms add a delicate grassy taste to herb butters, cheese spreads, grains and pastas, and salads. The flavor mellows once cooked into baked goods, egg dishes, pupusas, stews, and vegetable stir-fries. One easy recipe to get you started: a frittata inspired by the delicious flavors of tlayuda de flor de calabaza, a quesadilla with squash blossom and quesillo found in the open-air markets in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Recipe: Squash Blossom, Potato, and Goat Cheese Frittata
Yield: 8-10 slices
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Age: 6 months+
- 10-12 squash blossoms
- 3 medium waxy potatoes
- 10 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil
- 4 ounces (113 grams) fresh pasteurized goat cheese
This recipe contains common allergens: egg and dairy (goat cheese). Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius).
- Wash the squash blossoms, gently opening each one to discard any bugs that came along for the ride. Dry the blossoms, then cut off and discard the stems. Decide whether you’d like to keep the blossoms whole or chopped. Finely chopped squash blossoms are easier for young babies who are just starting solids, while whole blossoms are helpful for biting and chewing practice. Set the blossoms aside.
- Peel and chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add the potatoes to a pot and add enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring the pot of water to a boil, then lower the heat to create a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, then let the potatoes cool slightly.
- Whisk the eggs to combine the yolks with the whites. Add the cooled potatoes.
- Warm the oil in an oven-safe skillet set on medium-low heat. When the oil shimmers, pour in the egg-potato mixture, taking care to evenly distribute the potatoes around the skillet. Cook until the eggs begin to set around the edge of the skillet, about 3 minutes.
- Sprinkle dollops of goat cheese and the squash blossoms on top of the frittata. If you are using whole blossoms, you can lay them in a circle with the green parts pointed toward the center to make a flower pattern. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the frittata for 18 minutes. Check that the eggs have set: a knife inserted in the center will show no loose eggs. When the frittata is done, remove it from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Cut the frittata into wedges, then set aside 1 or 2 wedges for baby. Exact serving size is variable. Let a child’s appetite determine how much is eaten. Cut baby’s wedges into strips about the size of two adult fingers pressed together, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Serve the frittata as finger food for baby and let the child self-feed by scooping with hands. To encourage the use of a utensil, simply preload a utensil and rest it next to the food for baby to try to pick up. Alternatively, pass the preloaded utensil in the air for baby to grab.
To Store: Squash Blossom, Potato, and Goat Cheese Frittata keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 days.
E. Cerda, MSN, CNS, LDN
A. Gilbaugh, RD, CNSC
K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT
Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)
Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist
- Vermeulen, R. T., Sedor, F. A., & Kimm, S. Y. (1983). Effect of water rinsing on sodium content of selected foods. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 82(4), 394–396. Retrieved November 24, 2021.
- Figueredo, E., Cuesta-Herranz, J., Minguez, A., Vidarte, L., Pastor, C., de las Heras, M., Vivanco, F., & Lahoz, C. (2000). Allergy to pumpkin and cross-reactivity to other Cucurbitaceae fruits. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 106(2), 402–403. DOI: 10.1067/mai.2000.108109. Retrieved November 24, 2021