Zucchini may be introduced as soon as your baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age.
From curries to dolmas to ratatouille, zucchini shows up in dishes from all over the world. The dark green, oblong variety are popular, but zucchini comes in all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes—a perfect pick for taste tests babies! It’s also a great way to teach older kids about history: this abundant summer squash has origins in Central America, where gourds have been grown for agricultural, ceremonial, and domestic purposes for thousands of years. A staple food for Native Americans, squash was brought by Spanish colonizers to Europe, where the gourds called ayohtli by the Nahuatl people of Mesoamerica changed in shape and size through cultivation by Italians, who called the squash by the diminutive of zucca, their word for squash. Today, zucchini have different names depending on where you live: calabacín, courgette, marrow, and quả bí ngòi to name a few.
Zucchini plants thrive in the sun and typically produce lots of fruit (yes, botanically speaking, zucchini is a fruit!), making this prolific squash an economical and nutritious addition to your baby’s diet. You can even eat the blossoms (delicious on frittatas, quesadillas, and pizzas).
★Tip: Store your zucchini in a paper bag to keep it fresh! Zucchini needs access to air to slow down the skin from becoming slimy and soft.
Kalani, 6 months, eats cooked zucchini for the first time.
Amelia, 6 months, eats cooked zucchini for the first time.
Juliet Rose, 10 months, eats zucchini with shredded shrimp.
Yes. Zucchini is loaded with beta-carotene that our bodies convert to vitamin A, which supports our immune system and powers our eyesight along with the lutein and zeaxanthin that are also present in the summer squash. Zucchini also offers plenty of vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron from plant-based foods to create healthy blood cells. Lastly, zucchini contains vitamin B6, folate, vitamin K, and copper—important vitamins and minerals that your baby needs to thrive. Vitamin B6 is essential for brain development and folate is vital for growth, and both nutrients can be insufficient in toddlers’ diets.
No. You won’t find zucchini listed as a common choking hazard, and the risk is low when the squash is cooked to a soft consistency. That said, an individual can choke on any food, so be sure to create a safe eating environment, always stay near your baby during mealtime, and check out our age-appropriate serving suggestions. For more information, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with common choking hazards.
No. Cases of zucchini allergy have been reported but it is not a common allergen. However, individuals with ragweed allergy may experience symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen-food allergy syndrome) after consuming raw or lightly cooked zucchini. Symptoms can include oral itching and tingling and occasionally mild abdominal pain. The good news is that Oral Allergy Syndrome is only rarely associated with serious reactions.
As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity on its own for the first couple of 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.
Cook zucchini and serve on its own as spears or sticks. Roasting or steaming spears of zucchini makes a great meal for baby and a delicious side dish for the rest of the family. And don’t bother peeling the skin—at this age, baby can scrape the soft zucchini flesh away from the skin and the skin will help it hold the piece together in baby's hand. Shredded zucchini is another way to offer this nutritious vegetable to your baby. It can be served on its own with a pre-loaded spoon or easily mixed into other foods like grain dishes, mashed legumes or root vegetables, scrambled eggs, or yogurt.
Once baby develops the pincer grasp (where the finger and thumb meet), try moving down in size to bite-size pieces of cooked zucchini. If you'd like to continue to offer cooked spears or sticks, by all means do so; these shapes offer great practice for learning how to bite, tear and spit, all critical skills for becoming a safe eater. You can also serve zucchini noodles that have been cooked until soft.
Continue serving bite-size pieces of cooked zucchini and mixing this nutritious squash into your casseroles, egg, grain, and lentil dishes. At this age, zucchini fritters, noodles, or pancakes are a great choice, too. As your toddler grows older, keep introducing zucchini in identifiable ways, such as in roasted sticks described above to build familiarity with the squash in its whole form. It can be tempting to hide shredded zucchini in breads or muffins—a fine option when served in moderation—but offering the squash in this way may not build familiarity with the taste of zucchini on its own.
At this age many toddlers are ready for raw zucchini. Try bite size pieces or sticks. A great pre-dinner snack! If you’ve mostly been doing bite size pieces of cooked zucchini up until now, try going back up in size to spears so your toddler can practice biting and tearing skills as well.
How to cut zucchini in preparation for cooking (for babies 6 months+)
For more information on how to cut food for babies, visit our page on Food Sizes & Shapes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (204 C). Grease a sheet tray with oil.
Cut off the ends of the zucchini, then cut each zucchini into spears about the width of two adult fingers pressed together. Small zucchini may only need to be halved, while large zucchini may need to be cut into quarters or eighths.
Wash, dry, zest, and juice the lemon.
Coat the zucchini spears in oil, then sprinkle with lemon zest and spice. Feel free to swap the seasoning for any herb and spice that you want baby to learn to love. Babies tend to like flavors that they try early and often, and there is no need to wait to introduce seasoning.
Roast the spears until they are easily pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle the lemon juice over the spears. Set aside zucchini spears for baby, then season the rest with salt to taste for yourself.
Serve the Spears
Offer zucchini spears to baby, then let the child self-feed.
If help is needed, hold a spear in the air in front of baby, then let the child reach for it. Once baby grabs the spear, let go.
Eat zucchini spears alongside the child to model how it’s done.
To Store: Roasted Zucchini Spears keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Zucchini are mild in flavor and develop a slightly sweet taste when cooked, which makes the squash a versatile ingredient that can act as a blank canvas for your favorite flavors and seasonings. Try mixing cooked zucchini pieces into amaranth, quinoa, or your favorite grain; serving spears alongside iron-rich foods like black beans or lentils; adding shredded zucchini to eggs, or stirring zucchini into pasta.
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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