A recent video of Alicia Silverstone and her son, Bear Blu, has been causing a stir on the web. In the 40 second clip, Silverstone is seen feeding her son by directly transferring pre-chewed food from her mouth to her baby’s mouth, such as how birds feed their young. The video, which was posted on her blog The Kind Life last week, has spread like wild fire, becoming a catalyst for debates among moms and medical experts worldwide.
[Watch the video below]
Premastication among humans
Silverston’s blender-free feeding method is known as premastication, the act of a human being pre-chewing food for an infant via mouth-to-mouth feeding. Silverston blogs, “[Bear] literally crawls across the room to attack my mouth if I’m eating.” This practice of feeding exposes babies to their mother’s saliva, which according to some experts plays an important role infant development as well as boosts babies’ immune systems.
In some cultures, premastication is a normal practice, and is seen as somewhat a parallel to breastfeeding. The issue of transference of bacteria from mom to baby has been an issue concerning premastication, but according to an article published by the National Post, (which quoted a professional doula, Leeane Scoura, who premasticates her son’s food) this is perfectly healthy. “Mothers share the same bacteria with their children; it builds their immune system,” says Scoura.
Parents’ response to Mama Bird Alicia
Granted, the video has garnered more than its fair share of “ewwws.” But you’d be surprised at the sheer number of “awwww’s,” too. Just read through the more than 100 comments on Alicia’s blog entry. You’ll note the mix of reactions from persons in either the “pro” or “con” group in this controversial entry:
“Thanks for posting the video of you feeding Bear his breakfast…that’s how the Eskimo do it…the mothers chew the food and then feed it to their baby…:)” — Karen Lee
“How adorable! Like a mama bird & baby bird!” — Marr Nealon
“That seems a little unsanitary, maybe you want to rethink that.” – emma geisler
“Children should learn to eat with a spoon . We are not birds, we are humans and if this works for Alicia and Bear then so be it..What is gonna happen when he gets a little older and see’s someone eating, it would be quite embarrassing for Bear to go to them and try to eat the food they are already eating. What is so wrong with a jood processor and a bowl and spoon?” – greeneyez
Pros and cons about pre-chewing baby’s food
According to research led by anthropologist Gretel Pelto of Cornell University, premastication has been a common human practice for centuries and should not be viewed as unhygienic. Pelto believes that the method allows for immune-system-building, seeing as the mother’s saliva exposes infants to traces of disease pathogens and bacteria. This supposedly builds up antibodies and strengthens the child’s autoimmune functions against conditions such as asthma.
Based on medical research, one argument against the premastication feeding of infants is the possibility of infants catching infectious diseases from the mother’s saliva. In one research conducted by an immunologist, Samuel Baron of the University of Texas Medical Branch, stated that the likelihood of a mother passing on an infectious disease (such as HIV) through saliva is actually is possible. Another argument — which was raised by New York-based pediatrician LIsa Thebner, M.D. — said that premastication could put a child at risk for tooth decay.
Different folks, different strokes
In the end, pre-mastication should be a practice based on a parent’s personal convictions. If you do consider doing this type of feeding method for your child, be sure to research on the pros and cons, and also inform your child’s pediatrician about it.
About Martine De Luna
I'm a freelance writer, editor, blogger and former preschool teacher. Married with one kid, I'm a work-at-home mom, but most of all, a mom-in-the-works. I'm a work in progress, and I believe that living intentionally day by day will help me become the best mom for my child.Web | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts (41)