Learn how to prepare butternut squash baby food for your little one…
This page is packed with ideas for everything from simple butternut squash puree to yummy, gourmet baby treats!
Butternut squash is a type of winter squash, believed to originate in Mexico and now popular all over the world.
It looks like a huge pear (although you sometimes come across cylindrical ones!) and is often beige or yellow in colour. It has a thick skin and a cavity containing seeds at the bulbous end.
Butternut squash (also known as butternut pumpkin in some parts of the world) tends to be around 8 to 12 inches long and between 3 and 4 inches wide. On average, it weighs about 3lb – but you can sometimes find them as heavy as 5 lb!
Cut open a butternut squash and you’ll discover its deep, orange flesh… cook the flesh and you’ll see why the butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squashes in the world!
It tastes delicious – rich and sweet, with a wonderful, velvety texture. Some people compare its flavour to those of sweet potato and pumpkin – indeed, these ingredients are interchangeable in most recipes.
When choosing a butternut squash, look for one that’s heavy for its size.
Well, when harvested, butternut squash has a high moisture content. But this slowly diminishes over time… along with flavour. A heavy butternut squash will have retained most of its moisture and will be tastier as a result!
We also find that larger squashes tend to have a richer flavour than small ones.
Look for a butternut squash with a dull skin (not a glossy one), with no mouldy spots and very few blemishes.
There should be no green areas on the skin – and the skin itself should be tough. If you can push your fingernail through it, then the squash is immature. This means it will not be as sweet – or as tasty – as it should be.
Because its skin is so thick, butternut squash can be stored for quite some time in a cool, dark room with good ventilation – some sources suggest as long as 3-4 months.
However, for the purposes of preparing baby food with optimal nutritional value and flavour, we suggest waiting to buy your butternut squash until you’re ready to use it!
Once cut, you should use butternut squash quickly.
It does not last long in the refrigerator (1 to 2 days at the most) – so it’s a good idea to cook the whole squash and freeze the leftovers in sealed freezer bags.
If you’ve ever hacked away at a butternut squash with an inadequate knife, you’ll know it’s not the easiest thing in the world to peel, or to cut. So here are some tips to make it a little easier for you to prepare…
The seeds of the butternut squash are edible and make a nutritious snack for older children and grown-ups!
Rinse them under warm, running water (this removes the ‘sliminess’ and the fibrous material), then blot them dry with a paper towel.
Toss them with a little olive oil, then spread them on a baking sheet and roast in a low oven until dry and crisp. Sprinkle with a little salt if desired.
Butternut squash is NOT a common allergen (it appears on Dr Sears’ list of ‘Least Allergenic Foods’) and is rarely the cause of any allergic reaction in babies. It is also easy to digest.
Taking these qualities into consideration – along with butternut squash’s value as an excellent source of nutrition and its pleasing texture for the infant palate – you have a superb first weaning food for babies (ideally from 6 months of age, but from 4 months of age if recommended by your pediatrician).
When introducing butternut squash baby food to your little one, please use the four day rule, which will help you identify potential allergic reactions, or digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea.
The colour of a vegetable or fruit is often a good indication of its nutritive value – and the butternut squash is no exception!
Its deep orange hue tells you it’s packed with beta-carotene, which your baby’s body converts to vitamin A (a lot of beta-carotene in baby’s diet can contribute to the harmless – but startling – ‘orange nose’ phenomenon! Please see our sweet potato baby food recipes page for more information).
Butternut squash is also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C, fibre, folate, manganese, magnesium and potassium.
Regularly consuming butternut squash is believed to reduce the risk of colon cancer in later life. Plus, its vitamin C and beta-carotene content help reduce the effects of asthma.
Butternut squash is extremely versatile and can be cooked in a variety of ways.
Making a butternut squash baby food puree is simple – just cook the squash using one of the methods described above, then mash it thoroughly with a fork or blitz it in a food processor.
Freeze leftover butternut squash puree according to the directions on our page all about How To Freeze Baby Food. Do NOT thin butternut squash puree before you freeze it – it can be somewhat watery when thawed.
Here are 8 delicious combinations you can put together for your baby once he has safely been introduced to butternut squash. Try mashing it with…