A baby pasta recipe that is loaded with iron and vegetables! You’ll also find answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding pasta for babies, such as when to introduce and which types are best.
Which type of pasta are best for babies?
Generally speaking, all pastas are great! They are great sources of carbohydrates, which babies need to support their rapid growth and development.
Legume-based pasta (such as chickpea, lentil, edamame) have the added benefit of providing more iron, protein, and fiber compared to rice and wheat-based pasta. However, they are more expensive so rotate through.
Always focus on offering as much variety of foods as possible from the start.
Related post: Best First Foods
Which pasta shapes are best?
It may sound counterintuitive, BUT bigger is better and safer for babies who’ve just started solids. Fusili, rigatoni, ziti, penne, egg noodles, and lasagna cut into strips are all great options.
I personally love fusili for this recipe because the sauce really clings to the grooves.
Once they develop their pincer grasp (usually around 9-10 months), you can serve smaller shapes, like macaroni, orzo, orecchiette, or cut up large pasta.
What makes this the perfect baby pasta?
This simple tomato-based pasta sauce is:
- Made without salt and sugar
- Rich in iron - an extremely important nutrient for babies
- A very forgiving recipe - you don’t have to be super exact with the ingredient measurements and can swap out any vegetables you wish
- Perfect for both baby led weaning and spoon feeding approaches
- Delicious enough for the whole family to enjoy together. As you can see in the image above, you can set aside a portion for baby and blend while serving the sauce as is (thick and chunky) for everyone else, unless you prefer a smooth sauce.
- Thick in texture so will be easier for your baby to scoop with their hands
Related Post: Best Iron-Rich Foods for babies and toddlers
If you are looking for a tomato-free pasta sauce, try this creamy sweet potato sauce!
- Vegetables: you really can use whatever vegetables you have on hand! I do recommend adding some type of sweeter vegetable to help counterbalance the tartness from the tomatoes. Extra bonus if it’s rich in vitamin C to boost iron absorption
- Tomato paste: did you know that this is actually a great source of iron? Not only that, it will really help to enrich the flavor to the sauce.
- Red lentils: I love using this variety, especially if planning to blend as the color stays red. But feel free to use yellow or green lentils if desired.
- Chop all the vegetables
- Cook onion first and then the rest of the vegetables
- Add tomato paste and Italian seasoning
- Be sure to stir well until well incorporated
- Add tomatoes, water, and lentils
- Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can enjoy as is or blend.
Frequently asked questions
It can be introduced as soon as your baby is developmentally ready to start solids, usually around 6 months.
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Yes, although it can cause a lot of gagging when first starting solids. Serving it with a sauce, like the one I'm sharing here, helps make pasta more manageable.
Just note that if you’re introducing pasta that contains wheat and/or egg, they are two of the top most common allergens. It’s recommended to introduce these early AND often, but if it’s your first time, then proceed with caution.
You can introduce more than one food at a time but make sure there aren’t two major allergens in the same meal. That way, if your baby does have a reaction, you’ll know exactly what was responsible.
Cook several minutes longer than what the package instructions say so that the pasta will be soft enough for your baby to mash with their gums.
Again, there’s no need for teeth, but you do want to make sure it’s texturally-appropriate. If your family prefers pasta al dente, like mine, then simply remove portion for family once pasta reaches desired doneness and cook baby’s portion a bit longer.
Before you start suspecting that a specific food is to blame for a lack of bowel movement, I encourage you to consider their diet as a whole.
Overall, is your baby getting enough fiber-rich foods? If you are serving refined pasta every single day, then perhaps. Here’s yet another reason why you should vary the types of pasta.
I would highly advise against it. Pasta contains a lot of starch and when you blend it, you’ll end up with a very unappetizing, sticky texture, that can actually become a choking hazard.
If you’ve been doing purees, I can understand your anxiety in moving forward with texture. However, it’s really essential that in minimizing texture aversion and picky eating down the road. If you feel like you’re stuck on purees, I’ve got incredible resources for you!
Absolutely! I recommend freezing in single-serving portions. This tray is really great! Once frozen, you can pop the molded sauce out and transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container.
More baby-friendly pasta ideas
All of these meals were introduced to my baby during our first 3 months of starting solids. For 150+ veggie-loaded meal ideas and recipes, 80+ cooking videos, 100+ videos walking you through how to serve the meals to baby and the rest of the family, time and money-saving tips, and so much more, check out my Baby Led Feeding Journey Program.
Do you want to minimize picky eating and set a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating habits?
Check out this 3 month mastering self-feeding program! It’s the closest thing to me being in your kitchen
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Iron-rich baby pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 28 ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup (190g) red lentils
- Heat oil in a large quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomato paste and Italian seasoning and stir until well-incorporated.
- Add the tomatoes, water, and lentils, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meanwhile, place a pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil, and cook pasta. Set aside.
- Once sauce has cooled, transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. You can also keep it chunky depending on your preference.
For beginner eaters, puree the sauce. It will stick nicely to the pasta and be easier for baby to eat. Serve a small portion at a time as seeing too much food can be overwhelming.
For older babies and toddlers, skip the extra step of blending. It will be great texture exposure.
For older children and adults, you can season with salt and add some cheese. Small amounts are fine for babies and toddlers. You just want to watch their sodium intake.