A delicious baby pasta sauce with tomato, veggies and extra iron! Your baby will love this first taste of tomato sauce. This recipe also works as a healthy “hidden veggie” pasta sauce for picky toddlers.
Your baby’s first big bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce – and the subsequent mess and adorable photos – is kind of a parenting rite of passage.
Here at Veggie HQ, pasta is on the menu several times each week, so we were particularly excited by the moment our little tot first tried it. We knew she would love it too. It’s in her blood!
It took several tries to find the right shape for her (more on that later), but once she was in the groove, she became enthusiastic about pasta as we are. And unfortunately for our floor, her favorite sauce has always been tomato sauce.
Why is this a pasta sauce for babies?
This sauce is super tasty for anyone, but I designed it around the needs of babies and toddlers, with the following in mind:
- I wanted it to be salt and sugar free for the under 1’s. So it’s sweetened by the inclusion of red pepper and carrot.
- I wanted to throw in some extra iron, because that always a good idea with first foods. So there’s some pureed white beans in the sauce (with the vitamin C from that red pepper and carrot to help make sure it can be absorbed).
- I wanted it to to have a fairly thick texture so it’s not too slippery for babies to eat with their hands. The beans serve that purpose too.
- I wanted it to be dairy free, for vegan parents or those with allergies, but still have a creamy texture (thanks again beans!)
And of course, for the parent’s sake, because introducing solids is a lot of work, I wanted it to be an easy to make! And it is. Just sauté the veggies, add your tomatoes and beans, simmer for a few moments and then puree it before serving. (A hand blender makes this especially easy.)
What is the best pasta shape for babies?
Spoon Feeding Babies:
- For spoon fed babies exploring texture, a shape like orzo or mini stars would be perfect.
- If you’re making this for a spoon fed baby alongside an older sibling, spaghetti chopped very finely will work here too.
Older Babies and Toddlers:
- For slightly older babies and toddlers with a pincer grasp and good biting / chewing skills, I love the pasta wheels (route) pictured. Very easy to grip and take bites off, and they grab lots of sauce.
- If they’re learning to use forks and spoons for the first time, I like macaroni for it’s size, it is easier for them to get on a fork than something like penne, fusilli or bow ties.
Baby Led Weaning:
- This sauce is perfect for baby led weaning spaghetti! The sauce is a little thicker and stickier than the usual marinara which really helps them to keep it in their hands. Chop the spaghetti and let them dive in. Have a bath ready!
- That said, my daughter did better with angel hair / capellini than actual spaghetti. She had a harder time with chewing, and angel hair is much easier to chew and swallow because of how fine it is.
- Fusilli is often recommended as the best pasta shape for baby led weaning / baby self feeding. It is easy to grip and suck sauce from or gum down, and it’s recommended that you overcook it a little to keep it soft.
Variations on This Baby Pasta Sauce
- While I like to use soft white beans to thicken the sauce, red or yellow lentils work well too. Add 2-3 tablespoons of dried lentils + the equivalent amount of water and cook the sauce for at least 15 minutes, until the lentils are cooked, before pureeing.
- Up the calorie content of this pasta sauce with some ground almonds. Add a spoonful or two + the equivalent amount of water alongside the canned tomatoes, and they will puree nicely into the sauce.
More pasta ideas for babies
First Tomato Pasta Sauce for Babies
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ¼ small red pepper, chopped into small pieces
- 1 inch chunk of carrot, chopped into small pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¼ tsp of dried Italian herb mix
- 400 g (14 oz) can of chopped or whole tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp (¼ cup) cooked white beans, rinsed
- 5 fresh basil leaves
- In a small saucepan,sauté the carrots and peppers in olive oil until they have softened.
- Add the garlic and herbs, and cook for another minute or two, until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and beans. Heat until bubbling and then turn off the heat, add the basil leaves, and allow the sauce to cool down for about 5 minutes.
- Puree the sauce with a hand blender or in a jug blender or food processor.
- Toss into cooked pasta and serve.
This has been a great recipe for the freezer stash – perfect to make quick pasta dinners or mini pizzas with!
How long will these stay good frozen? Thanks!
6 months! 🙂
Hi! Does this recipe work well with fresh tomatoes?
It definitely would, you would just want to research how many fresh tomatoes you’d need to swap in for a can as that is not something I have any experience in.
Hi again! Did you use canned beans or dry? If dry how did you cook them
I used canned beans. I drained and then rinsed them. Cooking dried beans is only worth it for much larger quantities so I wouldn’t bother just for this recipe – it’s a great idea if you have other bean recipes you want to try though! If you decide to cook from dried, there are a lot of good instructional articles out there to take you through the steps, just google the name of whatever bean you decide on.
Why does baby sauce need oil?
I like to use olive oil to saute the veggies in, but if you wanted to steam the veggies or saute in water, that would work too. Extra virgin olive oil contains good fats which babies do benefit from and there’s no reason not to include small quantities of it in meals being prepared for babies.
It says add garlic and herbs. And then later the basil leaves. I can’t see herbs in the ingredients list??
Yikes, thanks for bringing that to my attention. Fixed! 🙂
Thank you . Does it have to be fresh basil leaves? Can you suggest a ground frozen amount or dried amount ? My 10 month old loves this by the way!
Will it be okay if I do not include the white beans?
Let me know, thank you!
It would be fine yes! It will just be a little thinner.
I’m wondering if you could add spinach to this as well? I’m just starting solids and starting to get some recipes together so I can make a couple things a week for the freezer.
Definitely! Spinach would be great here.
Could I use chickpeas instead of beans? That’s all I have on hand.
Yes that will work fine, I’d just consider peeling the chickpeas first to make the end result more creamy!
When it comes to serve time, do you just hand mix the sauce into the cooked pasta and let it sit for 5 mins so the sauce gets soaked in the pasta noodles?
Yep! I just mix it in and serve.
What age do you recommend giving this from? My baby is 8 months. I have read different opinions on giving tomatoes to babies. Thanks!
I’ve read different things too. The official advice is beyond 6 months most foods are fine, but due to their acidic content if you have a baby who struggles even a little bit with reflux I’d hold off until they’re well established on solid foods and have done OK with most other foods. If you’re looking for a first taste of tomatoes I do have a recipe for Tomato & Chickpea puree which has a few cherry tomatoes in it but wouldn’t be as acidic as a canned tomato based sauce. If you just search tomato baby puree on the site you should find it easily!
Hi! I’d like to use fresh tomato’s for this. Do I need to peel the tomatoes first?
I’m thinking that since you’re going to be blending it, there’s no real need to peel them. The skins will just blend in. Hope your little one enjoys it 🙂
Thanks! Should I take the seeds out?
For the smoothest finish, yes, but if you have an excellent blender or a baby who is fine with a little texture, I wouldn’t worry about it.
And which white beans did you use?
I’ve made it with all sorts! Haricot (navy) make the creamiest finish, I think. Butter beans and cannellini beans are great too though.
Hi! How do you make the dry beans?
Hi, for the bean, can u replace white bean with soy bean?
I don’t see why not!
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Do you add the juice from the canned tomatoes or just the tomatoes?
The red pepper— is it a red bell pepper or one of the snacking peppers?
Bell pepper 🙂
I just made this recipe and it has a acidic flavor. I’m sure I did something wrong. Any suggestions on what I can do to mellow the acidic flavor?
Hi Gloria, you won’t have done anything wrong, it’s likely just your tomatoes. They can really vary from can to can in how acidic they are. Baking sofa / Bicarbonate of soda (1/4 tsp per 1 cup of sauce) is recommended to neutralise acidic tomatoes. If baby is OK with dairy, a little butter and/or cream cheese will help make it more palatable.
Can a 7 month old eat this?
Yes, if they are ready for the texture of pasta! Some plans would have you hold back on tomatoes until 8-10 months but there isn’t any need if your baby is handling solids well.
I’ve been making this since my son was around 8 months old. He’s now 19 months and it’s still his favourite sauce. Goes down a treat. I always make a double batch to freeze because we go through a lot of it! It comes together really quickly too, which is a huge win for me.
That’s so lovely to hear, thank you for taking the time to feed back! 🙂
This was really good. My baby enjoyed it as her first pasta sauce experience. I added some celery and left out the fresh basil (only because I didn’t have any on hand). The recipe didn’t say whether or not to drain the tomatoes. I drained mine and reserved the juice, but didn’t end up adding any back in.