Alicia Silverstone’s Baby-Feeding Controversy Builds

The actress Alicia Silverstone, who is also known for her animal rights activism and advocacy of a vegan diet, has been in the news this week over a widely-circulated video that shows her chewing food and then feeding it to her 11-month-old son Bear Blu directly from her mouth.

In addition to general reaction–either repulsion or support–a growing number of health experts are weighing in on whether the practice is healthy or even safe.  The Los Angeles Times reports that a 2009 research paper actually advocated for “premastication,” arguing that it can boost a child’s immune system.

But others are criticizing Silverstone, calling the practice dangerous. Swapping food from mouth to mouth puts kids at risk of catching a cold and can contribute to tooth decay, or worse.

“Word is Alicia Silverstone chews her food for her child. Don’t follow in her footsteps,” Delta Dental of Iowa tweeted this morning. “You can pass dental disease!”

“Bacteria are passed when items contaminated with saliva go into a child’s mouth,” the insurance company warned in a recent press release. “Most parents don’t know they can pass harmful bacteria from their mouth to their baby’s mouth, which can put their child at an increased risk for cavities.”

As for Silverstone, she posted the videos on her website The Kind Life, saying that Bear Blu, ” literally crawls across the room to attack my mouth if I’m eating.”  The meal she’s feeding him in the video is vegetables from a miso soup she was having for breakfast.

Image: Alicia Silverstone, via Featureflash / Shutterstock.com

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  1. by Brittany

    On March 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Delta Dental knows what they are talking about. Babies don’t yet have the bacterias in their mouth that adults do. Premastication transfers sickness, too.

    That being said… It’s still her child and she can do whatever she wants. It’s not abuse or anything. It’s not exactly smart though.

  2. by Bekki W.

    On March 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    As a mother of a 17 month old boy, I was outraged to watch this video. I think it is unsanitary at the very least, not to mention disrespectful to spit her chewed up food into her child’s mouth like she is showing a trick. I’m sure most kids would do whatever their Mommy wants them too, this poor child doesn’t know any better. Why isn’t she teaching her son to chew and swallow his own food, using his own gums, teeth, saliva and digestive enzymes? He will one day realize he is the only kid around eating food from his mother’s mouth. I still breastfeed my son and do everything I can to keep him healthy, but I think Alicia is doing this more for the shock factor than its “benefits”.

  3. by paula

    On March 30, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Just like the sleeping with baby in bed issue. People do it all over the world. Just like most of the world doesn’t have cribs and sleep with their babies, most of the world doesn’t have jarred baby food or baby food processors. This has been done for centuries and we don’t have a mouth bacteria epidemic. Bekki, I am outraged that some Americans are so closed minded.

  4. by Deanna

    On March 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I agree with Paula, there are many people who do this. Yes, I’m sure it has it’s risk and I wouldn’t choose to do that with my little one but it certainly doesn’t make it wrong or make her a bad mother. Her son is 11 months old, he appears to be very healthy, and I’m pretty sure he will not be traumatized by this so just let her be a mother and do what she thinks is best.

  5. by Crystal

    On April 2, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    People believeing that she is making the wrong decision should just do what people here just Dont Know How to Do. Mind their own damn busniess.
    Still breastfeeding your son and maybe issues have come up where people dont want to see or even read about your tit in a babes mouth cause it seems gross, but you exposed that much about yourself already.
    How children are cared for, how much they are loved, however they are shown love does not matter because love is there.
    It begins to matter to strangers, people who do not matter to them, strangers with no children, strangers with “perfect children” because they have come from perfect parents.
    Doctors can express their opinions, so can other moms or dads, but unless you are her doc, her childs doc, her friend, you dont know jack.
    be the perfect parect and show your perfect child raising skilld and “be the better person” “mind you own busness” “DON’T POINT”

  6. by Billy

    On April 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Those of you condemning her for her actions would be indignant if anyone had the temerity to call you on some of your rearing practices. This is a real case of “mind your own business”. She is obviously taking care of her child and seemingly doing a fine job of it. You naysayers are a bunch of hand wringing morons who should get back in the kitchen where you belong. Now go make me a sammich.

  7. by Stefanie

    On April 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    There may be an increased of dental decay due to this practice–I admit I’m not well researched on that topic. I wonder how it compares, however to the dental decay caused by bottles of juice or babies falling asleep drinking milk, which is well documented. Or the typical high carbohydrate diet (which I’m sure would be a concern for a vegetarian as much as any other) for toddlers.

    At any rate, this falls very low on my radar for parenting practices that I’m going to be indignant about. Personally, I think it’s a bit strange as a regular practice, but I admit to occasionally having bit off a tiny piece of this or that for my baby who was attacking my plate. I have a friend whom I’ve observed “prechewing” the occasional morsel for her baby, but I shrug and enjoy the visit. Everyone does things differently, and as other comments have reflected, this is hardly child abuse.

    Billy–I’ve got a roasted red pepper and cream cheese sammich right here, I’ll let you have a bite. You want I should chew it up for you or not?

  8. by Toby Still

    On April 17, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Billy–I’ve got a roasted red pepper and cream cheese sammich right here, I’ll let you have a bite. You want I should chew it up for you or not?

    http://www.scentsforcandles.com/join-scentsy

  9. by girl66

    On April 24, 2012 at 11:22 am

    People forget that, before the days of eating utensils, this is was a necessary action to ensure the survival of an older infant, and it was not necessarily done by just the mother. As for passing on viruses, you do that just by breathing around the baby. (I was sick more in my first year of motherhood from exposure to other peoples germs via my baby than I have ever been, before or since) Dental bacteria? Can’t be much worse than exposure to juice and milk. Brush the gums and teeth, they should be fine.

  10. by sharon

    On April 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Before there was jars of baby food this was THE ONLY was they had to begin a child on solid foods. It didn’t kill our ancestors or you wouldn’t be here to complain.

  11. by Pastor Lott's Wifey

    On April 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

    First want to say, BRAVO… to all the people standing up for Alicia Silverston. Paula hit it right on the head. I just want to say that, WHO ELSE IN THE WORLD DOES NOT DO THIS??? I rather see her feeding her child, than seeing some clip of her abusing or neglecting her child, then we all would have something to say then. Yes I do feed my child and break up some of the food in smaller bits so she doesn’t choke. I’m sure my mother did it with me and my grandmother with her, and the lists goes on. I will take in consideration about the dental issue because that is new to me, but I will NEVER throw stones at Ms. Silverstone or anybody at that matter if they want to continue in feeding THEIR child in that manner. Even if Parents do not pre-process the food for them and do this with hands or fork and knife, the kids are still subject to getting cavites or whatever kind of disease anyway, if their eating all kinds of junk food! So let’s move on from this petty issue about a GOOD mother who feeds her child and isn’t taking advantage of her Parental rights and move on to some of those other folk that gets away with doing far worse with their child, as well as keeping them in Prayer!

  12. by Nancy Y

    On April 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    This isn’t the 17th century. What she is doing is disgusting and totally unnecessary.

  13. by carmen

    On May 5, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I think it looks degrading to require your child to eat food that has been chewed. Dogs in California get better treatment than this. Children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Just because a child is yours, doesnt allow you the freedom to do whatever you want to them when they are too little to speak for themselves. This looks like something that would cause a parent to lose custody, but because she is rich and famouse we say that she is just progressive. As for the argument that other cultures sleep with their children and practice these sorts of things, that is because they have to. There probably isnt a mom in africa that would say no to another bedroom and crib for their baby and some jars of baby food for them to eat by themselves.

  14. by Trisha

    On May 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Seriously? It’s disappointing to see how some people are so judgmental. I wouldn’t do it to my son but however I do still breastfeed him and he is 15months AND (gasp) we co-sleep. I’m sure plenty of people have something to say about that, and a few have. What about we all do what works best for us and not be so harsh about how others choose to do things? Being a mom is demanding and stressful enough, we don’t need other moms bashing our choices just because it’s not for them!

  15. by Sarah

    On May 26, 2012 at 11:44 am

    It’s unsanitary and since the food starts nourishing once you put it in your mouth, he’s not going to get the same amount of nutrition as he would if she would just put it in a food processor. So basically, the kid is getting a tiny amount less of nutrition and possible illness. As for other countries doing it and age old insult of Americans being closed-minded blah blah blah: if those people in other countries DID have access to food processors, I guarantee you, they would use them. They aren’t just chewing up their baby’s food because they think it’s so fun or because there’s some sort of amazing spiritual connection to it that us closed-minded Americans just can’t understand. They do it because that’s all they have. I highly doubt Alicia Silverstone doesn’t own some sort of food processor.

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