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Should Parents Pre-Chew Their Kids' Food?

The act of premastication has been in the spotlight in recent weeks.

Actress and mom Alicia Silverstone has made some major waves in the past couple weeks with a home video of her pre-chewing her 10-month-old son's food and feeding him mouth-to-mouth.

The video, shown above, quite obviously went viral and got doctors, moms and bloggers talking. Silverstone even went on the defensive this past weekend saying she wasn't doing anything new, but she also wasn't suggesting others do it.

"People have been feeding their kids that way for thousands of years," she said at a screening for her new movie, Vamps. "I wasn't trying to be independent or cause such a ruckus. I'm very glad that I did it."

According to an ABC News report, the practice—called premastication—is in fact a common practice in other countries, it's just not so big in the U.S. these days.

Most critics of the practice argue that not only is it totally gross, but it can also transfer diseases such as HIV, Strep and even tooth decay. In addition, it can undermine the children's development since they are still learning to chew for themselves.

Others say that most people, while it may not be their preferred way to feed their children, tolerate the practice and there are likely many parents who do in fact do this—but there aren't usually cameras there to capture it. The practice was also common before food processors and such were around.

In my opinion, there is some small degree of this practice happening daily for most parents. While Mom may not cup her mouth around little Jimmy's mouth, parents will bite things in half, blow on hot food, stick their tongue to the food to test it, feed a child from the same utensil that was just in their own mouth. While these acts may be easier to stomach, the transfer of disease argument doesn't hold as much water when you consider this. However, I wouldn't engage in such a practice. My gag reflex is too strong.

What is the most alarming risk factor of this practice for you as a parent? Or do you think this practice is perfectly normal? Has anyone ever tried this?

Take our poll below and share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section.

Alison April 13, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I don't see a problem with the pre-chewing part of it so much. I can see that it could have a purpose, especially in parts of the world where there isn't ready access to baby food or food processors. The part I have a problem with is the mouth-to-mouth feeding. This isn't about germs for me, it's about boundaries. Her son is now older than he was in this video and she's still doing this. She has described him as walking up and attacking her mouth sometimes. If he's big enough to do that, the mouth-to-mouth feeding (and probably the premastication, too) should stop. I also don't like it when I woman breast-feeds a child who is old enough to walk up to mom and start lifting her shirt up by him/herself. At some point, the relationship needs to shift.
Becky Glander April 13, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I'm with you, Alison. I just can't imagine feeding my child out of my own mouth. It looks strange and it IS strange– totally about boundaries.
rob_h78 April 13, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I don't see a problem with if someone wants to do it - probably not my thing but as long as it isn't hurting anyone I say do what you want... However, that being said I suppose if you want to feed beef jerky to your baby - then YES you should certainly pre-chew it.
Caitlin Burgess April 13, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I don't think anyone could dispute the beef jerky suggestion! :)
Jane Flannigan April 14, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Should Parents Pre-Chew Their Kid's Food . . . yes, if they have feathers and live in a nest. Really, is this necessary??

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