Help! How Do I Pick A Pasta?

Beef and broccoli noodles in silicone Suckie Scoop Divided Plate with baby fork on wooden board with tea towel - Starting Solids Australia recipe.

Pasta! A beloved family favourite in many households. Once you start serving it to your little one it often opens up the door for more family style meals that you can all enjoy together.

But…what pasta should you use? How do you cook or serve it? Does it cause constipation?

Who would have thought that pasta could ever be a confusing or controversial food….but there are so many types out there and also lots of misinformation around wheat and intolerances when it comes to starting solids. The low carb “keto” movement has also really had a go at poor old pasta too, painting this easy to cook and delicious food as a bit of a villain.

So, should you be giving your bub pasta?

When it comes to feeding your little one, there are very few times we use the word SHOULD here. There are a few hard rules around safety when it comes to feeding babies but in general, we are 100% behind any approach that makes feeding kids less work for you and that best aligns with the way you already feed your family. So, if pasta is something that you already eat regularly then you definitely SHOULD feel like you can offer and include it as part of your bubs diet.

Pasta- is it an allergen?

Traditionally, pasta is made from a wheat flour, which is a top 9 allergen. Pasta can be a simple and easy way to introduce your bub to wheat though, by offering a small amount and monitoring for a reaction. Check out our blog on introducing allergens if you want to know more about how to do this.

It is also important to read the label before serving up pasta because some brands can also contain egg, milk or soy. If you haven’t already introduced these foods, you might also be exposing your bub to another top 9 allergen without knowing. However, if you have already introduced these foods to your bub without issue then there is no need to avoid pasta with these ingredients.

If you have a wheat free bub, thankfully there are so many options available for you now- we will go through some of these in a minute.

How about intolerance and constipation?

A lot of parents worry that grains are the cause of constipation for their little one. Bread and pasta often get a bad rap as causing major digestive issues and parents worry their bub is intolerant and quickly rush to cut out wheat containing foods. Often constipation isn’t that simple though and it could be a number of other things.

Check out our constipation guide (this is an excellent starting spot) but if your bub is still really struggling then book in for a 1:1 consult so we can work out what is going on. In most cases you will be happily surprised to hear that you little one doesn’t need to avoid wheat altogether.

The benefits of pasta- let’s chat nutrition:

Pasta is an excellent source of carbohydrates, which are the main fuel source for the body. On its own it doesn’t offer a complete meal, but it sure does offer an energy boost and make an excellent addition to your bubs plate. Add in our iron rich pesto or a lentil and beef Bolognese and you are on your way to building a beautifully balanced meal for your bub. Serve a couple of veggies on the side and what a perfect little meal!

There are so many great pasta options on the market now that boost the nutritional value of the humble pasta dish even more. You can purchase pulse, quinoa, buckwheat and rice pasta these days so let’s do a little run down of how they differ when it comes to nutrition!

The following table is there as a quick guide and comparison per 100g of different types of pasta. We have used specific brand here to compare nutrition labels, but you will find that each brand is representative of the types of pasta i.e most red lentil or white pastas will be similar.

For wheat free bubs, look for pulse (lentil/legume), rice or corn pasta.

Pasta type Energy Protein Fibre Sodium
Vetta Smart Fibre Kids Dino Pasta 1479kJ 12.5g 6.4g 7mg
KIC red lentil 1541kJ 26g 10g 15mg
San Reno Chickpea pasta 1480kJ 18g 9g 12mg
Coles white pasta 1490kJ 12g 4g 35mg
Orgran gluten free veggie penne (corn, rice, sweet potato, kale) 1520kJ 7.7g 2.9g 14mg
Brown rice pasta San Remo 1520kJ 8g 2.5g 12mg
Wholemeal pasta San Remo 1510kJ 15g 9g 30mg

The breakdown:

  • The sodium content of white pastas is higher but still super low, so nothing to avoid.
  • The energy content is the same for them all.
  • The protein in lentil and chickpea (pulse pastas) as well as the wholemeal is much higher!
  • If your bub is getting good sources of protein from other foods (like meat, yogurt, egg and nut butters) then don’t feel like you need to pick a high protein pasta.
  • Fibre is once again much higher in the pulse and wholemeal pasta! There is no recommended amount of fibre for 7-12 months of age and if your bub is getting other sources of fibre in their diet then once again it isn’t a reason to pick this type of pasta. Sometimes constipation can be caused by too little or too much fibre (I know- it can be tricky to problem solve) but if it is too little fibre this can be an easy way to boost their fibre intake.
  • The pulse pastas are also much more expensive. When it comes to price, wholemeal is between a pulse and a white pasta, but offers you the extra fibre and protein.
  • Variety is king! Offering different types, shapes and sauces is the most important thing to remember. Mixing up your pasta selection is one way to do this but there is nothing wrong with plain old white pasta as part of a varied diet.
Green coloured Big Kid Silvie Set by Starting Solids Australia (fork, knifer and spoon) in branded packaging on a marble bench.

The take home:
Specialty pastas are expensive and not necessary to include but can also be a great way to offer more variety as well as protein, fibre and even texture into your bubs diet.

Some suggestions to help you serve it

6 months/when starting solids:
Choose large pasta shapes that are easy to grab in bub’s fist, for example fettucine cut into strips, large shells or spirals
We love spirals because they hold onto the sauce
Pasta can be very slippery for bub to grab, so coating it in a thicker sauce like our iron rich pesto can help with this or adding in some flax meal to thicken your sauce so it sticks to pasta a little easier
Over cook the pasta so that is it nice and soft (think an extra few mins). Check by attempting to fork mash or squish the pasta in your fingers to check it isn’t still firm inside
If you don’t feel confident offering whole pieces of pasta BLW style, you can fork mash the pasta or start with something like a risoni
Risoni is a great little pasta (it looks like rice) that soaks up all the flavour of the sauce when you cook it. It also sticks well to the spoon, so is perfect for preloading and supporting independent spoon feeding by babies
If you go for a cylinder shape like rigatoni or penne, these shapes can be trickier for bubs new to solids. You may need to really cook the pasta and even cut the cylinder open or chop it up. If your bub struggles with this style of pasta come back to it in a few weeks.

7-9 months:
As bub is more confident with pasta and is getting used to chewing food you can look at cooking the pasta a little less (so it isn’t falling apart) and offering different/smaller types of pasta
Pincer grip is starting to develop around the 9-month mark. With the pincer grip developing you can use pasta as an opportunity to practice by offering smaller pasta styles like macaroni

9-12+ months:
Moving towards offering pasta as you would for your family
One meal at the same time is the way to go when you can


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