Zucchini, also known as courgette, is botanically a fruit. However, in gastronomic terms, it is a vegetable from the Cucurbitaceae family, which is the squash family. This vegetable has been a part of the diet around the world for many centuries. But lately, it has been purported as a “superfood,” especially for babies. Zucchini does have valuable nutritional and medicinal properties (1). But does that mean it can be a crucial part of a baby’s diet?
In this MomJunction post, we present all the essential information about the safety and benefits of zucchini for babies.
Is Zucchini Safe For Babies?
Yes, zucchini is safe for babies. However, it is generally not recommended as baby’s first solid food. If you are planning to introduce it to your baby, then consult a dietitian first.
When Can You Introduce Zucchini To Babies?
Babies can eat zucchini once they are eight months old. However, if the baby has started their solids earlier than the age of six months (which is not recommended by the World Health Organization), then you can include zucchini in their diet before the eighth month.
Nutritional Value Of Zucchini
The striking feature of zucchini is the presence of some highly beneficial bioactive components. These components are known to have positive effects on human health (2).
100grams of zucchini, when cooked with skin (and without oil), provides the following nutrients.
|Name||Amount||RDA (per day)|
|Fiber, total dietary||1g||–|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||1.71g||–|
|Calcium, Ca||18mg||270mg (7-12 months)|
|Magnesium, Mg||19mg||75mg (7-12 months)|
|Phosphorus, P||37mg||275mg (7-12 months)|
|Potassium, K||264mg||700mg (7-12 months)|
|Sodium, Na||3mg||200mg (7-12 months)|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||12.9mg||20mg|
|Folate, total||28µg||32µg (7-12 months)|
|Vitamin A, RAE||56||350|
Health Benefits Of Zucchini For Babies
Zucchini is considered to have a number of therapeutic properties. It is believed to cure asthma, cardiovascular diseases, and much more (5). Below is the list of potential health-promoting properties of zucchini.
- Antioxidant property: Zucchini has bioactive compounds such as lutein and beta-carotene. These components are believed to have potential antioxidant properties that help boost immunity. An in-vivo study demonstrated potential anti-genotoxicity and chemopreventive effects of zucchini. However, more extensive research is needed to establish these claims (2).
- Immunity-boosting property: Zucchini has a fair amount of vitamins A and C that in conjugation with a well-balanced diet could help boost immunity. Apart from boosting immunity, vitamin A and C also help in repairing cells, maintain healthy bones, skin, cartilage, and teeth (6) (7).
- Support muscle activity: Zucchini has a considerable amount of potassium. Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate fluid balance and muscle contraction (8).
- Promotes digestive health: Good digestion is important for babies. The high water content of zucchini is believed to promote digestion. Besides, the vegetable also contains dietary fiber that might also be helpful in boosting digestion.
- Overall health: Zucchini has small quantities of most vitamins and minerals. Nutritional diversity is helpful for the overall health of the baby.
Zucchini has its health benefits. But does it have its share of side effects?
Side Effects Of Zucchini For Babies
There are no known adverse effects of eating zucchini. But in some cases, you might find an extremely bitter zucchini. The bitterness in zucchini indicates high amounts of cucurbitacin. Cucurbitacins are compounds that can be toxic and might lead to fatal complications. However, cucurbitacin poisoning is extremely rare, and usually occurs due to excess consumption of squash vegetables. Taste the zucchini before feeding it to the baby. If it tastes too bitter, then avoid feeding it to the baby.
Easy To Make Zucchini Recipes
Introduce zucchini as a puree, and then gradually make it part of other baby food. Below are some baby food recipes that incorporate the use of zucchini.
1. Zucchini and apple puree
This recipe is ideal for young babies who have not yet started chewing food. A smooth and creamy blend of zucchini with apple would give a pleasant taste and refreshing feel to the baby.
You will need:
- 1 finely chopped medium-sized zucchini
- 2 finely chopped small apples
- Place a deep bottom pan on medium flame and add two cups of water in it. Bring the water to a boil.
- Put the zucchini and apple pieces in the steamer over the pot. Let zucchini and apple steam for about 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
- Once done, put zucchini and apple aside and let them cool.
- As they return to room temperature, place them in a blender and blend until you get a smooth paste.
- Add water to adjust the consistency. Serve it in a bowl or small cup.
2. Zucchini and nuts smoothie
This recipe is ideal for babies between the age of eight to ten months. Besides zucchini, the recipe has beneficial fats from nuts. Nuts are also rich in some minerals, which are essential for physiological processes. However, before you introduce nuts for your baby, consult a pediatrician to stay informed on allergies.
You will need:
- 1 ½ cups whole fat milk
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 2 bananas
- 1 cup mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachio, and raisins)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Place all the nuts in a grinder and grind till it turns into a fine powder. Place aside the blended nuts.
- Now add the ingredients (except nuts powder) in a blender and blend well until you get a smooth liquid. To adjust the consistency, you can add more formula milk or water.
- Once the blend looks smooth, add the nuts mixture and give a final blend for two to three minutes.
- Serve it to your baby in a broad-mouth sipper cup or in a cup.
Tip: To get some variety, you can try this recipe with yogurt instead of formula milk or water.
3. Cheesy zucchini omelet
Omelet is most loved for its easy and quick preparation. Besides, it provides high-quality protein and other essential nutrients to your baby. You increase the protein content of the omelet by adding some cheese to it.
You will need:
- 1 egg
- ½ cup onion, chopped finely
- ½ cup zucchini, grated
- 1 green chili, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tbsp refined oil
- Black pepper, as required
- Salt, as desired
- Take a bowl and put zucchini with salt in it. Mix well and keep the bowl aside.
- Meanwhile, take another bowl. Break the egg, pour it into the bowl, and give a thorough whisk. Now add cheese, salt, and black pepper in the bowl and whisk again. Once done, keep the bowl aside.
- Now take zucchini and press it between your palms firmly. Ensure that zucchini leaves all the water and gets dry.
- Add dry zucchini to egg mix and give the entire mix a good whisk for a minute.
- Finally, take a flat pan and keep it on medium-flame and spread oil on it. As the oil heats, put onions on the pan and fry them until they get brown.
- Pour egg mix on the onions and let the omelet cook. As you cook the omelet, ensure that both the sides turn light brown.
- Serve it hot with bread or you can slice it into long pieces and give it to your baby as finger food.
Tip: To add more color and nutritional value, you can add capsicum and corn to this omelet.
4. Zucchini soup
You can feed a warm soup to your baby anytime during the day. Soup also makes an ideal early dinner for babies who can readily be put to bed after a sumptuous meal.
You will need:
- 1 medium potato
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tbsp yogurt
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- Sauté the onion and garlic in a small pan with olive oil until it turns tender.
- Cut the potato into small cubes and add it to the pan and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes.
- Now add cubed zucchini and cook for an additional five minutes.
- Now add the vegetable stock and allow it to come to a boil. Stir in the yogurt and done.
Tip: To make this soup wholesome, you can add ½ cup of oats along with other vegetables, such as pumpkin and carrots.
5. Zucchini and Carrot Fritters
This recipe is good for babies who have begun chewing their food. It makes an ideal finger food, especially while traveling with babies.
You will need:
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 small onion
- ½ cup multigrain flour
- 1/3 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- Olive oil
- Wash all the vegetables well and grate the carrot and zucchini and set aside.
- Chop the onion and then mix all the vegetables together in a bowl.
- Add ricotta cheese, egg, flour and pepper and mix well. You can add water to change the consistency.
- Lightly grease a frying pan with olive oil and add spoonfuls of this mixture on the pan and allow it to cook till golden brown.
- Serve it hot with a homemade sauce or a cup of hot milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I give raw zucchini to my baby?
Raw zucchini is safe to eat with little or no known adverse effects for babies. However, while feeding raw zucchini, you need to be careful about its peel. For young babies who cannot chew, raw zucchini should ideally be avoided.
2. Is it necessary to peel zucchini skin while preparing baby food recipes?
Rather than removing the skin, it is better to cook zucchini with skin. This way, you can ensure increased nutrient retention in the food, while increasing the fiber content that is necessary to maintain a healthy gut
Zucchini is certainly not a superfood, but it can add some nutrition and variety to your baby’s meals. Serve it as a soup or add it in a pancake, the choice is yours. Mixing it with other food items is the key to making zucchini a vital component of a baby’s solid food diet.
Have something to share about zucchini for babies? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.
2. Damian Martinez-Valdivieso et al., Role of Zucchini and Its Distinctive Components in the Modulation of Degenerative Processes: Genotoxicity, Anti-Genotoxicity, Cytotoxicity and Apoptotic Effects; National Center For Biotechnology Information
3. Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt, FD (169292); Food Data Central; USDA
4. Feeding and nutrition of infants and young children; WHO
5. Benefits of Zucchini; City of Richfield, MN
6. How Vitamin C Supports a Healthy Immune System; Eat Right; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
7. Vitamin A; Medline Plus; U.S National Library of Medicine
8. Potassium; Medline Plus; U.S National Library of Medicine
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