Ok, I'm not a parent so I'm asking this question out of curiosity more than anything else, but I found myself getting really annoyed this morning watching all the morning news shows trot out medical professionals to descry Alicia Silverstone's behavior in a video that shows her chewing up food for her 10-month-old son and "bird feeding" it to him. I heard doctor after doctor go on and on about bacteria. Now, I can't say whether or not I'd be ok with doing this with my own baby because I don't have any and I will admit to a mild level of grossed-outedness at watching the video -- probably because it's not my kid and I don't know why she felt the need to post this publicly (most likely for publicity).
But as a recent (last two months) primal/paleo convert, it strikes me as strange that modern humans would be so freaked out about this. I've read accounts that prehistoric mothers regularly chewed up their baby's food before giving it to them with the intent of making it easier for them to eat and with the added benefit of it strengthening the baby's immune system by exposing baby to mom's bacteria. It boggles my mind how doctors could attack a mother for sharing her saliva with her own baby! Gross? maybe. Dangerous? I don't really think so.
Silverstone is a huge vegan proponent and while I don't agree with her dietary choices, I still respect her freedom as a mother to feed her kid whatever she wants however she wants.
To me this is a yet another example of fear-factor culture gone wild. Any primal/paleo perspectives on this? Primal parents -- have you or would you do the same with your babies?
I would say the media should be more outraged for that fact that she is feeding her kid a vegetarian diet!!!! With regards to her feeding method, I would say she is spot on because she is giving her childs digestive system a head start by allowing her saliva to break down the food and get the digestion process going. I did this with my son for meat, especially steak since chewing at that age is difficult.
I've even heard of bizarre practices of modern mothers inserting the nipple's of their own breasts into their baby's mouths! Disgusting! All that bacteria!
Kidding aside, I will never chew my future children's food (short of some hypothetical medical reason that I have to?). However, from what you described, the "decrying" of this behavior shouldn't be for germs: it should be decried 'cause it's just a tad bit silly, IMHO. Then again, no harm, no foul.
I think it's gross and unnecessary. I feed my 7 month old just about everything, well no processed foods. She has no teeth but is able to eat most meats just fine. I do baby led weaning which means no purees or spoon feeding. She feeds herself, which most babies her age are perfectly capable of. I guess people think if their baby doesn't have teeth they aren't capable of chewing, which is not true.
All part of the modern myth that we can/should live a "germ free" life. When I was a kid, adults frequently laughed at me covered in dirt and said, "Everyone needs to eat a peck of dirt before they die." Quite a reversal, eh?
While I don't think we need to go as far as my childhood did, with no central plumbing, I think it's great to chew your kid's food. I didn't do so on a constant basis, but I frequently shared pieces of food I'd touched or bitten off when my son was little, as part of eating games. And all kids SHOULD be exposed to animals and fermented foods.
It seems to me that this would be the best, if not the only, way our ancestors could introduce a very young child to eating meat. How else? There were no food processors or meat grinders, no chef's knives for dicing and mincing. Other than grinding it between two rocks, which would be more difficult and time-consuming, chewing and feeding makes the most sense!
I agree with your comment on "Gross, maybe" but you're right- probably not dangerous (absent disease transmission through spit).
I have an 11 month old that will be 1 next week and while I don't pass the food from my mouth to his, I do chew some stuff for him. Especially steak and BACON! LOL but as to what another mother said about babies being perfectly capable of chewing on their own even if they don't have teeth...not true for every baby. My son got his first two teeth at 9 months. He only just, like 2 weeks ago discoverd the chewing motion. And he deffinattly can't break most things down by chewing with his gums! Back to the whole "OMG! how gross!" Aren't there more important stories that need to be reported on other than some celeberties child rearing habits? Last I check my brothers in arms are still out there dieing...just sayin
Ok, I get why she would pre-chew food, the added bacteria and digestive juices. That is all amicable. That poor kid needs every chance for nutrition with her diet choices. (Even her poor dogs are vegetarian).
But why mouth to mouth? Can't she spit in a bowl first?
I remember something in intro to anthropology that a lot of dental and face muscle problems came about in humans when our diet got softer from changing diet and cooking foods. Why, the hell can't kids chew their own food to build stronger jaw muscles? Quit coddling them.