OK so my baby girl is 13 months old but can devour a chicken leg like you wouldn't believe. The other day she bit off the end of the bone and it freaked me out but when I went to fish it out of her mouth she had eaten it already. My hubby said it's just the cartilage so no biggie. But now I'm wondering if maybe it's a good thing and I should continue to let her eat it and then knaw on the bone after. Seriously she's like a dog.
So my question is, is eating the cartilage of a chicken or any animal really OK for my baby girl?
Eta: I just gave her a whole chicken wing to see what she would do with it and girl ate the bones! Do I have a Hannibal lecter on my hands? haha
My dad used to say cartilage makes your bones strong, and showed us how to "eat it like an animal" when we were little. It's basically a bunch of extracellular matrix with collagen mixed in, so as far as content goes it shouldn't be any trouble, just a healthy side of collagen!
The only thing would be that, of course, it is a choking hazard and when bitten off haphazardly, could lead to taking a few bone shards in with the cartilage, which could be a pain on the gums, so maybe take the time to remove it from the bone yourself if the young'un is showing enthusiasm with perhaps a touch too much recklessness!
I personally crunch up and eat the ends of chicken bones, and I've been doing that for decades.
But I wouldn't let a 13 month old do this. The knob of cartilage on the end of a chicken bone is a perfect size to block her windpipe. There's no harm nutritionally, but considerable choking risk.
I can't comment specifically on the value of cartilage for your baby- but I do know that it's very good for adults. Cartilage is, in part, what makes a good bone broth 'gel', along with marrow and chondratin. They are even sold as supplements in health food stores for healthy joints or to prevent/treat arthritic pain. All the minerals and proteins- having already been used structurally by another organism- are easy for the body to utilize.
Maybe a choking hazard, though.
My family all chew on the cartilage and bones. I think, like anything it can be a choking hazard, but even more so when we try to cut them up into "bite size" pieces. Naturally I bet most will chew down the parts (cartilage and bone) and not try to just inhale or swallow.
Think, hot dogs cause choking so most think they need to cut them into bite sized pieces (which are perfect size for choking) whereas you could hand your kid a hot dog (ewww gross, who eats those, we don't) and they will chew on the "meat" bit by bit. No choking threat.
We feed our dogs raw meaty bones, chicken with bone in, and other meat with bone in. We only have to worry when it is too small and they think they can swallow it without chewing.
One rule in our house is the kids can not eat by themselves. Another is no horseplay while eating. We monitor and are aware when our kids are eating raw or cooked meats.
Bones are fine to eat as long as they are raw and not cooked. They will only splinter/cause harm if they are cooked. That's not to say there is no choking hazard, you can choke on anything, even your own tongue.
Chicken bones splinter...they do. Anyone who feeds them to their dogs are just very lucky they have not ran into any problems yet..key word "yet". I have taken in one of my neighbors dogs to the vet because a bone had splintered and got stuck in the back of the dogs throat. No one noticed except when the dog started losing weight.. I looked back into it's throat and it was stuck in both ends embeded and swollen and painful, too painful for the dog to eat. They were actually lucky it was the throat because the splinters can get stuck in the digestive tract. Cartilage is wonderfully healthy but again cut into small pieces or ground. Please.. throw the bones away.
Cooked chicken bones will splinter and cause problems for dogs. raw bones are not only fine, but super healthy. Please research. Dogs in the wild eat bones all the time. My dog lived on them for about two years. trust me, it was not luck.