Need a quick and simple midweek meal for the whole family? My easy spaghetti bolognese recipe for babies and toddlers is perfect!
I’ve been cooking this recipe for over 10 years now and it’s a regular favourite among everyone in our house.
What’s great about this recipe is you can serve your baby, toddler, bigger kids and adults the same thing, so no need to cook twice!
This recipe is extremely easy to puree for a baby if you’re feeding a six month old (just pop it in a food processor and whizz it up for a minute), or can just be served as it is for little ones who are following baby-led weaning.
Can you give a baby spaghetti bolognese?
Yes babies can definitely have spaghetti bolognese and it’s a wonderful meal to introduce from around seven months.
The beef mince is a fantastic introduction to this flavour, and is easy for them to eat, plus it’s a great source of iron.
Cooking your own spaghetti bolognese, rather than using a jar of Dolmio sauce for example, means you can control how much salt is going into the meal. The NHS recommends not adding any extra salt to your baby’s food as they need just a tiny amount in their diet.
I use a low salt stock cube to add flavour – Knorr make a wonderful range – however you can always skip this altogether and just add flavour with dried herbs and your veg.
Because spaghetti bolognese is soft in texture it’s very easy to blend to a puree in a food processor.
When my babies were weaning I would make it in patches and freeze pureed bolognese in potions. Then it was a really quick and easy meal that I had on hand whenever I needed it!
Hidden veg spaghetti bolognese
If you need meal for a fussy eater then spaghetti bolognese is a perfect for hiding veggies!
Trust me when I say that just because your child says they hate onion, doesn’t mean they actually hate onion. I have to try not to laugh when my children insist they hate cooked carrot (they only like raw carrot), when they actually eat it in my sauces all the time!
You will need to make sure the veg you add to the bolognese sauce is not just chopped, but processed into a paste before you add it if you want to hide the veg.
The vegetables I usually add to my bolognese sauce are:
However there are lots of other veggies you can add too! For example red pepper and courgette.
Some recipes, including the BBC’s hidden veggie spaghetti bolognese, recommend cooking your veg first, then putting it into a blender or food processor to chop it down into a paste.
I personally put raw carrot, onion and celery into my Kenwood MinI Chopper then give them a blast (I have to do it in batches as it’s quite small) for around a minute. This creates a very finely chopped paste.
I then fry the veg in a little olive oil over a medium heat in a wide-based pan to soften it before adding the beef mince and finally chopped tomatoes to make up the sauce.
This is just my preferred way of doing it, so I’m not transferring cooked veg from pan to the food processor and then back into the pan again.
The idea of hiding veg in the sauce is primarily to make sure your kids are getting the nutrients from a varied diet. However at some point we all want our kids to actually enjoy their veg!
I recommend putting some veg on the side of their meal, just so the option is there for them to eat a little carrot and broccoli. This way you know they’re eating some in the actual sauce, but you’re also encouraging them to try veg in its real form. Repeated exposure is really key to getting fussy eaters used to different foods.
Some days you may have great success, and others not so much. Try to relax and not stress out too much if you can only get veg into your toddler by sneaking it in the sauce!
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How to cook spaghetti bolognese for kids
I use a large Le Creuset pan to cook our bolognese sauce, however a wide based pan or saucepan is absolutely fine.
It’s important to brown the mince all over before adding the chopped tomatoes as this gives the meat a bit of texture and ensures the sauce has delicious flavour from the beef.
I like to add mixed dried herbs to my recipe – you can buy a pot of Italian herbs from the supermarket or combine a little rosemary and oregano. You only need a small amount but it flavours the sauce really nicely.
Some people swear by adding a splash of milk to a bolognese sauce too to make it really rich. Why not give it a try!
Most experts would tell you a true bolognese needs bacon or lardons added to the recipe. I don’t add any to this dish, because I try to keep the salt content as low as I can and it’s a midweek meal. We save treats like bacon for weekends!
Spaghetti bolognese recipe for baby and family
Now onto my family recipe for spaghetti bolognese! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
If you’re looking for more family meal inspiration then check out my post with toddler dinner ideas.
- 400g beef mince
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 1 stick celery finely chopped
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 low salt beef stock cube
- Splash Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (find an Italian mix or use rosemary and oregano)
- If making hidden veg sauce then add veg to a food processor and blitz into a fine paste (around 1 to 2 minutes).
- Heat olive oil in a wide-based pan and add beef mince. Fry until brown.
- Add your onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook over a medium heat for another 3 to 5 minutes until veg is soft. Add the beef stock cube, crumbling it or mashing it with a wooden spoon until it dissolves.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes. Half fill the empty can with water from the tap and pour into the pan. Add a splash of Worcestershire Sauce and two teaspoons of dried mixed herbs. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile cook spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
- Serve with a green salad or garlic bread.