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.