You can and should feed pumpkin to your baby

One of Heather’s clever “homemade” baby food cheats is to open a can of organic pumpkin and feed it to a baby.

Adding pumpkin to rice cereal or oatmeal makes a fancy fall breakfast, like something you could order at Starbucks, but without whipped cream. Experiment with cinnamon, nutmeg, and or ginger to help your baby embrace flavors.

A parent with mad kitchen skillz may be harvesting pumpkin meat out of actual pumpkins this season to make pies, breads, roasted pumpkin stews, and more. But I won’t.

I love that pumpkin comes pureed in a can. It’s a bright orange vegetable full of beta-carotenes and Vitamin C. And it’s so easy to use.

A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Here are some healthy pumpkin combos used by packaged baby food companies that you can knock off at home.

Pumpkin + Banana – flavor concept by Plum Organics. Good for 6-ish months and up. Fork mash banana and mix with pumpkin. Add baby milk of your choice for new eaters to smooth it out. Increasingly leave chunks for older babies to help them learn to accept wet and lumpy food.

Sweet Potato + Pumpkin + Bananas + Blueberry – flavor concept by Ella’s Kitchen. This superfoods bonanza sounds like too much work because there are so many ingredients, so I think it’s best as a non-pureed meal: a bowl of pumpkin, sweet potato chunks, and banana wheels with blueberries.

Pumpkin + Sweet Potato + Pear – flavor concept by Happy Baby (sold as an 8-pack of pouches on Here’s where I’d peel and dice the sweet potato and pear, boil or steam them, puree together and then when cooled, stir in pumpkin. For babies who have eaten each of these foods separately, this is a yummy treat. Make a big batch and freeze some.

Spinach + Pumpkin + Chickpeas – this flavor by Plum Organics sounds gross to me, so I would probably start by mixing canned pumpkin into hummus and see how that  goes.

Pumpkin + Apple – as sold by Earth’s Best. This puree blend is super easy: Canned pumpkin mixed with apple sauce. Add yogurt for protein and another variety.

And guys? Make sure to buy canned pumpkin, not canned pumpkin pie mix.

Bonus Pumpkin fun: Turn it into a smoothie.

For the smoothie I made this morning, I used

1 huge spoonful of canned pumpkin

1 frozen banana

1 cup of vanilla coconut milk from Trader Joes (you can use almond milk or regular milk — or add yogurt for extra creaminess)

1 shake cinnamon

1 shake nutmeg

1 shake cloves

Honestly, I don’t love this. But I don’t love pumpkin pie, either. (My son would love it, however, and the idea was not a pumpkin smoothie that *I* would like.) I’ll give this to him after school, after keeping it cool in the fridge.

And as long as I’m being honest, I hate the paper straw you see in the picture. Sure it looks cute in pictures, but paper straws suck. They get all mushy and bent in your mouth, especially if you’re a slobbery kid. But straws in general are so much fun for kids, and as my son never took a bottle, I tried a straw with him when he was about a year old and he got the hang of it quickly.

Once I’ve opened a can of pumpkin, I want to use it up as quickly as possible. Today after my smoothie session, I added a half-cup of the pumpkin mix to brownies. So good!

ps. This is the perfect time of year to go take a pumpkin picture!

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