Baby food and snacks for sale in a supermarket aisle in Italy.
Home » Italian Culture » What Do Babies Eat In Italy? – Answers From A Mom Of Four In Tuscany

What Do Babies Eat In Italy? – Answers From A Mom Of Four In Tuscany

In Italy, food is religion and you can be sure Italians are teaching their babies this from day one. But how?

What do babies eat in Italy?

Are they weaned just like other babies in other cultures?

Are Italian babies first foods providing them with a lifelong love for Italian food and a healthy lifestyle? 

All good questions and I have all the answers. I am a mom of four living in Italy since 2012 and while I have seen a lot of changes in attitudes to what moms feed their babies in Italy, I have also learned a lot about what makes the Italian way of weaning unique and culturally intertwined with their love for Italian cuisine.

In this article, I will share with you based on first hand experience raising four children in Italy:

  • what Italian babies eat
  • how they are weaned
  • how you can incorporate Italian practices into your life with a baby in Italy

What Italians Feed Their Babies

Pile of cosce pears in Italy.

Like all babies, Italian babies start with breast milk or formula. Around 6 months, pediatricians urge mothers to start weaning their babies onto solids.

Common first foods in Italy for babies are:

  • grated raw apple
  • grated raw pear
  • cooked pear or apple

After these first few tastes of fruit, Italian mothers start to wean their babies from breast milk or formula to Italian food with a “one-pot” meal meaning, a single bowl of food with everything in it (protein, carbs, veggies, fat). 

Italian babies’ first meals are made by cooking up what we call a pappa or puree of veggies and meat cooked in a broth and mixed with instant baby cereal, parmesan cheese and olive oil. That olive oil and parmesan, two of Italy’s most famous flavors, are important from day one! 

Kids sitting at a small circular table eating lasagna on white plates. Baby sits in high chair.
The magical moment our pediatrician spoke about: feeding our baby lasagne in Italy

Our first pediatrician told us that if we were able to wean our first son this way, he would slowly gain the appreciate for the finest of Italian ingredients and flavors (i.e. parmigiano and olive oil) so that on his 1st birthday we could feed him lasagne (which is a milestone for any Italian baby) and we would witness one of the happiest moments of our baby’s life as he chowed down on one of Italy’s most beloved foods. 

Many Italian mothers take it upon themselves to make their own pappa but it’s also true it’s ever more common to see them buying pre-made baby food that can be mixed into this pappa without boiling all these veggies together with different protein sources several times a week.  

Most Italian mothers feed their baby this pappa (alternating types of protein and vegetables) for a couple of months before changing the consistency to be more chunky and made with pastina or small pasta. At around 1 year, babies start to eat normal food cut up into small pieces. 

Learn More: If you are traveling with kids under 1 year, you may want to learn all about Italian baby food, the options and how to prepare it. LINK

What Babies Eat For Snacks In Italy

Orange box of Plasmon baby cookies on a shelf.

When babies in Italy start to get older, breast milk or formula snacks might be replaced with solids. Common solid food snacks for babies in Italy include:

  • Apple sauce or other fruit purees (either cooked or grated)
  • Yogurt (maybe mixed with fruit)
  • Formula or breast milk and mixed with cookies that have dissolved in the milk to make a kind of cereal
  • Baby cookies
Hand holds up small package of cookies and milk blended for a baby snack. It's held up in front of baby food aisle in an Italian supermarket.

Italians might make their own applesauce (or other pureed fruit) or buy pre-made ready to eat jarred baby snacks. If you are traveling with a baby in Italy, the jarred fruits or pouches are great and particularly helpful for busy travel days. 

What Babies Eat At Restaurants In Italy

pasta from top view on checkered red table cloth dressed in. butter and cheese.
Pasta with butter and cheese is a classic to order for babies at restaurants in Italy

Most babies will continue to eat these pappe or one-pot meals until about 1 year. At this point, Italian parents will start to experiment with normal food that they eat, offering babies what the rest of the family is eating. This is true at restaurants as well. 

Italian food is pretty baby friendly and it’s easy to find simple, baby friendly foods at most any Italian restaurant. You may have to cut it up into small pieces but many Italian foods are served separately and not as one-pot meals, making it easy for your baby to eat with their hand what they like and leave what they don’t seem to enjoy. 

When Italian babies are still young, they may just graze from what their parents order at a restaurant but once they get a bit bigger, anywhere from 2+, it’s normal for parents to order them their own dish, which will not come from a kids menu but the regular menu. 

Foods To Order For Your Baby In Italy

Father feeds baby pasta with a fork. They're sitting outdoors on a white couch.
My husband feeding our 15 month old spaghetti

When choosing foods for your baby at restaurants in Italy, look for items that are simple and not overly complicated or messy to eat such as these favorites of mine:

  • carne alla brace – grilled meats
  • polpette – meatballs 
  • pesce di giorno al cartoccio – steamed fish wrapped in a bag (be sure to be hyper aware of small bones!)
  • verdure di stagione seasonal vegetables (ask for them steamed)
  • patate – potatoes (ask how they are prepared and opt for mashed, boiled or steamed)
  • pasta al pomodoro – pasta with tomato sauce
  • pasta in bianco – pasta with butter or olive oil and parmesan cheese
  • tortelli – potato ravioli 
  • lasagne
  • vellutata – pureed vegetable soup

Kids in Italy: Curious to read more about eating with kids in Italy? Check out
Best Squares To Eat And Drink With Kids In Venice
8+ Kid Friendly Restaurants In Venice – From A Mom Of Four Living In Italy
Where To Get A Quick Bite With Kids In Florence (Without Going Out Of Your Way!)
Where To Eat With Kids In Florence
School Lunches In Italy – What An Italian School Lunch Menu Looks Like
Kid-Friendly Foods to Order at Restaurants in Italy
Dining Out With Kids In Italy – What To Expect + Tips
School Lunches in Italy

Tips For Eating With Babies At Restaurants In Italy

Keep these tips and tricks in mind when dining out with babies in Italy. Having an idea of what to expect and what might differ from restaurants back home will help your dining experience with babies go smoother. 

  • Italian restaurants typically don’t have kid menus. You can order off the regular menu and ask for a small plate to cut age-appropriate bites for your baby. They can also share with you or if you have multiple kids, they can share between themselves. 
  • Some Italian restaurants might offer half portions. It’s worth asking.
  • If you don’t see anything on the menu that you find appropriate for your baby, ask for a small plate of pasta with tomato sauce or pasta with butter or olive oil. There is no restaurant in Italy who won’t do this for you! 
  • Expect to find a seggiolone or a highchair (not always with straps or buckles) but no bibs so bring your own!
  • Bring a teething snack or one of your baby’s favorite foods to keep them busy while you wait for food.

Travelling with Your Bambino? Be sure to read
What Do Babies Eat in Italy?
Italian Baby Food – A Traveler’s Guide