There has been a fair amount of controversy in the world of weaning in the last month after Alicia Silverstone released a video on her website that shows her feeding her eleven month year old son directly from her mouth to his. You can view the video here: http://www.thekindlife.com/post/home-video-breakfast-with-baby-bear
If she was looking to get a reaction…she got it. It has really divided opinion with some saying it is completely natural while others say it is irresponsible and unhygienic, as the practical can spread bacteria from your mouth to your baby’s.
It does raise a lot of questions. Would it be more acceptable if she chewed it, then fed him with her fingers or a spoon? Does she chew his food as it is then easier for him to eat or is she using this practice as a way to bond with her child? Are there any serious health issues with feeding her baby in this fashion, or is this just an argument cited by the more prudish objectors?
I think that Alicia is a fabulous role model for mums. In this picture she is publicly breastfeeding her son (while on the go, and that takes some doing!), and her website, The Kind Life, discusses and promotes healthy living and gives lots of useful parenting tips.
Having said all this, I did have a knee jerk (‘that’s a bit odd’) reaction when I watched the video and saw her feeding her son ‘mouth to mouth’. However, I occasionally bite a bit of banana off and then feed it to my son with my fingers, so is this so very different?
Alicia has defended her controversial behaviour by explaining why she was happy to feed her son like this, ‘people have been feeding their kids that way for thousands for years. It’s a weaning process… and me knowing in my gut it’s natural and lovely’. Indeed, there was no doubt that her son, Bear Blu, was enjoying his meal.
I had a chat with my Mummy friends and asked them their thoughts on the issue. Again, as in the media, views were really mixed. Some thought that it was absolutely fine, a natural and bonding way to feed her baby, while others thought it was a bit gross and unnecessary. We ended up having a lively and passionate debate, with both sides being fairly represented. I ended up feeling more confused than when I had first watched the video.
Ultimately, I don’t think the issue of whether we find it a bit strange or weird is the most important one. As long as parents aren’t putting their children at risk, they should be free to decide (along with their child) how weaning occurs. I think the only really important question that needs to be asked is ‘is this practice safe’? Would love to hear your thoughts……
Rosie Wright runs weaning workshops for first time parents in Brighton.