Noah Eats Spaghetti With His Hands; A Tasty Sensory "Exercise"

Every since Noah’s first birthday we’ve been slowly transitioning him from a bottle / purred foods, to more big boy foods….and he’s doing great. We haven’t ran into any problems (yet) with him not wanting to eat certain kinds of food, or refusing certain textures. We’ve been pretty impressed.

self feeding spaghetti baby child down syndrome


Noah’s occupational therapist has been having Noah touch and feel a variety of different objects and textures, which is a great sensory exercise. One suggestion (although a messy one) was to let Noah play with his food and eat his hands as much as possible. When I say play, what I mean is to simply allow Noah to run his fingers through (and eat) things like apple sauce, pudding, jello, smash cakes and various other items that will give his hands various sensory input. It’s messy, but it sure makes for some cute pictures. 🙂

self-feeding-spaghetti-baby-child-down-syndrome 3

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In addition to letting Noah play with his food, we’ve been trying to have him eat with his hands as much as possible, which he really likes. Tonight was his first go round at eating spaghetti, and as you can see, he really enjoyed it. In addition to just tasting good, letting him eat the spaghetti with his hands made for some more great sensory input. If you think about it would seem like spaghetti is sort of a hard thing for a growing baby to eat with their hands; it certainly feels different than other types of foods. It’s slick, sort of slimy, slippery, maybe a little hard to hold, etc. But he handled it like a champ. I was impressed. 🙂

baby eating spaghetti first time

Are you letting your child eat things with his hands? If so how do they do with that? Are there any food that they outright don’t want coming any where near their mouth? And if so, when did you first notice them not liking that food or have they always not liked it? Leave a comment below and tell us about it.

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. Nick was delayed in eating textured foods and worked extensively with a feeding specialist. He still will not eat fruits but loves salads and veggies. I would say the intolerence to fruits started around age 2. Sometimes I wonder if it was the vitamen therapy we added to his applesauce that did him in. The powder was vile in odor :0 Great pics of Noah passionately enjoying his pasta. I wrote about Nick’s passion for pasta a few weeks ago in my blog- we call him P.B. (Pasta Boy) thanks keeping us smiling 🙂

    • Noah's Mom, MD says

      Noah continues to like fruits, veggies are becoming interesting especially potatoes. I think he would however eat pasta every meal 🙂

  2. We struggle with feeding, which has been difficult since birth. I think that it is one of the most difficult therapies to work on because of so many factors. One suggestion that I have for little guys that may not appreciate dirty hands or touching things that they find repulsive is to try it in the bathtub. I usually run a few inches of water into the bottom of the tub and place the food on a large cutting board (I have one that spans the width). For us, at this stage of the game, it is not imperative that he put the food in to his mouth, it’s simply to touch it. The water is right there so he can wash it off if he panics. I must admit, the bathtub was far easier to clean chocolate pudding off of than the floor around the table would have been!

  3. maddie jacobs says

    i let aimee eat with her hands she eats better try mashed potatoes aimee loves to squish them then lick her fingers she does eat with a spoon to so if we got out she can eat . . love the video hes doing so good .

  4. I think this is a great idea for a sensory excersise. Try it with Gluten Free Pasta! According to the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, and, a gluten-free, casein-free diet may help reduce or eliminate some of the symptoms from common developmental disorders.

    As an adult I have eliminated as much Gluten as possible and feel absolutly 100% better. A proper nutritional aspect with great sensory excersises like this will help out children thrive beyond anyones imagination.
    Great Post!

  5. Donna Arthurs says

    Wow, Noah is good at catching that pasta and getting it into his mouth. And you know, eating spaghetti with your hands is not that easy. When my granddaughter was younger we used to make a game out of eating with our hands (obviously when her mom was not around, my daughter is a neat freak). I actually enjoy eating with my fingers and wish it was socially acceptable to eat, say, salad, or asparagus and other veggies. Then maybe I am just getting younger, instead of getting older. Good work Noah, and good work mom and dad letting him get right into his food. BTW, my granddaughter in now 12, and one of her favorite memories was when I let her eat ramen noodles with her hands, go figure.

  6. Katie, now age 8, loved eating with her hands. Since she had a hard time using a spoon, it helped give her a feeling of independence, plus she just liked playing with her food. She still prefers finger foods, though she can eat with a spoon and fork, it takes much more effort and when she is hungry she doesn’t always have a lot of patience! She pretty much likes all foods, some more than others but she is not a picky eater. Enjoyed spaghetti with Noah!

  7. I worked in a day care for years with 1 and 2 year olds. Every meal time was an adventure! We’d put bibs on and put the food on their trays and let them go at it. It was fun to describe to them what they were eating and watch their little faces when they tried new foods for the first time. After lunch we’d bring them over to the sink one at a time and wash them up and put them down for a nap. My favorite times of the day involved watching them eat even though it was messy it was well worth it. After all kids are washable! 🙂

  8. My daughter is 5 and we still strugle to feed her 🙁 She is mostly on Pediasure I wish I would had help when she was younger now every year just gets harder.
    Your son is adorable!!,

  9. Allie was NG tube fed for 4 months. Evaluated by Talk Tools which concluded a very weak jaw, sensory defensiveness, and lack of oral motor planning. Common with Ds but worse with the NG tube added to the mix. She is 2 and won’t eat anything besides crackers with her hands nor will she put anything in her mouth besides crackers or cut banana if it is not pureed. Major feeding delays that weighs heavy on my heart daily.

    • Noah's Mom, MD says

      I am sorry 🙁 Have you been using the talk tools therapy? They seem to have a lot of tools, we have wondered how they work.

    • I completely understand how you feel Sarah. I believe that Suzanne Evans said it best “A mother’s feelings of nurturing and parental adequacy are connected to her child’s eating.” Does Allie have feeding therapy? Personally, of all the issues we have faced with Owen the feeding has been, by far, the most difficult to live with. I would be happy to connect with you if you would like someone to share with. It has been a very long road for us too!

  10. we had a hard time too when gigi was born having milk very very slowly. until she was 4months old, the doc said she had avsd and probably ds. yes, we only knew this when she was born 4 months later! sucking milk was realy a hard work for her and she refused tohave milk any more 2weeks before her open heart surgery. the doc said normally patients will eat better after operation but my gigi did not. she totally forgot how to suck and she had ng tube for 3 months. now she is 17months and have congee, fruit (pureed), and milk. it takes an hour to finish a bowl of congee and 40to60 mins for 7 oz milk. she has no intention to put food or anything in her mouth except her finger. let me try giving her cake first and see if she is willing to use her hands to grapse food.
    by the way we did not realise gigi has ds because she has mosaic ds, which is less noticable from her face. but poor muscle tone and complicated heart disease are still found.

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