Let your toddler skip on squash? You must be kidding. If you allow your kid that “privilege,” you’re forfeiting him of one of the super healthy vegetables on the planet–or make that one of the super healthy “fruits” on the planet.

Basically, squash is a fruit. But some nutritionists prefer calling it a vegetable fruit because you have to cook it to eat it. And it has lots of benefits for toddlers, who are excitedly starting their adventures with solid food.

Ideal Transition Food                                                                 

First off, squash is a perfect food for the transition between liquid food to solid food for babies more than 6 months old or a year old. It’s not too soft to be almost liquid, but not too solid either as to traumatize the young and feeble digestive system of toddlers. You can cook squash to a soft, easily chewed consistency or viscosity babies will enjoy, not to mention that it has the right natural sweetness that babies love.

It is rich in Vitamin A, which is one of the biggest benefits of squash, with significant amounts of the much needed Vitamins C and E for growing kids with developing immune system. It also has Vitamin B6 and folate, as well as micronutrients niacin and thiamin. For minerals, squash provides potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium and iron, to name a few.

Helps Prevent the Development of Diseases

In addition, squash gives your toddler protection against diseases with its rich contents of antioxidants and carotenoids for anti-inflammatory properties (about 70 percent of deadly diseases start from inflammation), protecting them from infant cancer, for instance. It also protects babies from heart ailments due to its omega-3 fatty acids. It can also help prevent diabetes in kids.

Beta carotene in squash is also reported to prevent asthma in toddlers and lessen the chances of developing colon cancer in children.  Its Vitamin A-rich content provides protection for babies and toddlers against cigarette smoke that can lead to lung diseases like emphysema. It’s important to keep kids away from smokers, but sometimes chemical residues that stick to your clothes when exposed to cigarette smoke can still have dire effects against toddlers when they’re in contact with them. Thus, healthy food like squash can provide extra protection.

Good for Babies Still in the Womb

Babies still in the womb can benefit from the health benefits of squash if pregnant moms eat enough of it. It is rich in folate, which helps brain health in babies and prevents neural tube defects. Most neural tube defects are attributed to insufficient folic acid.

Thus, you can’t afford to have toddlers skip squash often in their meals. Train them up this early to love squash.