One of the best foods to try when it’s time for baby-led weaning is pasta. It’s yummy and not as messy as many other options.
Kids tend to love it, and you can dress up pasta in a variety of ways. From cute shapes to zesty sauces, you’re sure to find a pasta dish your child will love.
Before you start the baby-led weaning process, talk to your doctor, and make sure your child is ready. Most babies are ready to start trying food at the six-month mark, but every child is different.
Adjusted birth ages, medical issues, or food allergies may mean you need to wait a bit longer.
Best Pasta for Baby-Led Weaning
All pasta offers a carbohydrate boost that helps keep energy high for your always-moving little one. However, some pasta packs even more of a nutritional punch depending on ingredients.
Look for the pasta that is going to give your child the most at each meal, and try different options so your child’s palate will expand.
Pasta made from legumes, black beans, and lentils offers more nutrients than standard pasta that’s made of rice or wheat flour. It’s even possible to find pasta made from chickpeas, sweet potatoes, or quinoa.
Some pasta is also enriched, so it may have additional vitamins in it to support your little one. If your child has a gluten allergy, pasta isn’t off the menu. Gluten-free options abound and are very tasty.
Baby Pasta Shapes
Your baby is going to be learning how to chew during baby-led weaning, so make it as easy as possible for him by choosing the right size foods. With pasta, the options are endless.
Larger kinds of pasta that are easy to grab will make mealtime easier for you and your child.
Penne and ziti options are good choices because they are large enough for your child to pick up yet still easy to chew when cooked.
Flat egg noodles that are very wide can be a good choice if you cut them into manageable pieces. Rigatoni and cavatappi can also work due to their size.
No matter what size pasta you choose, always monitor your child at meals. It’s never safe to walk away while your child is eating. Though pasta is not considered a choking hazard when cooked correctly, a child can choke on anything.
How To Cut Pasta for Baby-Led Weaning
Pasta can be cut into smaller pieces to make it easier to handle for your baby when you start baby-led weaning. Long, wide egg noodles can be cut in half so your baby can chew them without as much trouble.
Tubular noodles can be cut in half as well. Your child will still be able to pick them up easily, but they won’t be as wide. If you want to skip the cutting altogether, go for macaroni noodles that are small and can be handled without issue by your baby.
Pasta for Baby-Led Weaning: Guidelines
When introducing your child to any new food, make sure you follow safety guidelines to reduce the risk of reactions or choking.
Learn the Heimlich maneuver before introducing your child to solids, and know what choking looks like versus when your child is just gagging.
- Cook noodles well so they are soft enough for your baby to chew easily. Make sure they are cool before serving them to your child. Rinse them with cold water before serving.
- Always monitor mealtimes.
- Avoid ramen noodles and spaghetti noodles because they are often too difficult for babies to chew without gagging.
- Make sure anything you add to the pasta is easy for your baby to chew. Throwing sauces in a food processor will ensure they are broken down enough for your child to manage.
- Know how to recognize an allergic reaction, and talk to your doctor if there’s a history of food allergies in your family. Pasta can contain gluten and eggs, and both are top allergens.
- Keep a food journal to track reactions to meals. If your child responds well to pasta with avocado but has trouble after pasta with cheese, you may need to ask your doctor about a possible dairy allergy. Tracking meals will help you remember how your child reacted to certain foods.
Tips for Feeding Pasta to Babies
Baby-led weaning can get messy, but it’s worth it to see your baby enjoy food. Some simple tips will help keep mealtime running as smoothly as possible.
1. Grab the Right Gear
Baby-led weaning works best when you prepare for the mess that is going to occur. Your goal is to minimize the mess when you can and use the best gear to help make cleaning the mess easier.
Look for bowls or plates with suction cups on the bottom so your child won’t be able to easily fling a bowl from the high chair.
Put down a splat mat to catch all the pasta that goes overboard, and invest in washable, waterproof bibs with pouches to catch food (these are perfect!) so it won’t end up on the floor.
Also, consider feeding your child in only a diaper. You will reduce how many loads of laundry you have to do.
2. Experiment With Flavors
Pasta doesn’t have to be bland. Add flavor and nutrients by adding sauces or other foods that are safe for your baby to consume.
Your child may quickly develop a preference for one pasta recipe over another, but be sure to introduce different flavors so they have the chance to expand their palate.
3. Clean up the Smart Way
Keep a clean-up station handy with all the items you will need when mealtime is over and cleaning time starts.
Your clean-up station should have sanitizing wipes to clean up the high chair, baby wipes to clean up your child, and a laundry basket to hold all the items to be washed.
If you have a dog, invite them to help with cleaning up by consuming leftovers from the floor.
4. Consider Portions
More isn’t always better when you start the baby-led weaning process. Your baby still has a tiny stomach and is getting most of his nutrients from breast milk or formula. Introduce small portions at meals, and add more as your child is ready.
You also don’t need to offer your child the chance to feed himself at every meal. Start with one meal per day, and work up to every meal by the time your child is one.
5. Consider Pasta Finger Food
Your child will eventually learn to eat with a spoon and fork, but pasta is the ultimate finger food. Take advantage of this by letting your child use his hands to figure out how to get the pasta to his mouth.
Even when sauces are added and things get messy, it may still be less frustrating to let your child use his hands to enjoy a meal.
Baby-Led Weaning Pasta Recipes
One of the greatest things about pasta is you can dress it up easily and create different meals each day.
A few ingredients and some imagination will help your child not get bored of pasta at mealtime.
1. Penne With Butter, Garlic, and Parmesan
Boil penne until the pasta is soft enough for your baby to easily chew. Add butter, minced garlic, and parmesan.
You can even put the last three ingredients in a blender to make sure they aren’t too chunky for your baby to manage. Go easy on the garlic in the beginning as your child is getting used to new tastes.
2. Easy Pesto and Pasta
A very basic pesto sauce includes basil leaves, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts or walnuts mixed in a food processor. Pour this yummy sauce over noodles to offer a lovely flavor for your child’s meal.
If you have any concerns about nut allergies, definitely talk to your doctor before offering this particular recipe to your baby, or just skip adding the nuts.
3. Spaghetti With Bolognese Sauce
When your baby is ready for meat, usually around the nine-month mark, throw together ground beef or turkey, crushed tomatoes, and all kinds of herbs to make a bolognese sauce.
Adding this to your child’s pasta will up the nutrient content and keep the belly full longer.
4. Avocado Pasta
Want to toss in some good fats with your pasta? Add avocado, minced garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to your food processor, and blend. This will create a creamy sauce to go over your child’s boiled pasta.
5. Easy Tomato Sauce
Throw some tomatoes and olive oil in a food processor, and add herbs for more flavor. This gives you a simple tomato sauce that you can put in the fridge and use when pasta is on the menu.
6. Pumpkin Pasta
Shred pumpkin and heat in a pan with olive oil and chopped spinach. Put it in a food processor, and then pour this rich sauce over your baby’s pasta.
When it’s time for baby-led weaning, don’t be intimidated by all the food choices out there. Pasta is a great food to try and will likely be a hit with your little one.
Kristy is the mother of four, including identical twins. With a background in education and research, she is constantly learning more about parenting and raising multiples. When she has spare time, she enjoys hiking into the woods with a great book to take a break.