What Do You Think Of Birding?

Dear Mamas,

My friends and I have been arguing like crazy over the idea of pre-chewing your baby’s food. We all saw that Alicia Silverstone video where she demonstrates it and I think it’s disgusting! But my friends (one in particular) say that it has some good benefits. What are they? And do you agree that it’s good or bad?

NOT Alicia

Dear Reader,
Wow. After being involved in the world of parenting for 30 years, I thought I had heard it all. Apparently not. With all due respect to Ms. Silverstone, I cannot imagine who, in their right mind, would feel compelled to pre-chew food and then spit it in their baby’s mouth. Yes, birds do that.

But, hello …. we are not birds. We are mammals, primates to be exact, and our babies drink milk until they are able to digest soft foods ON THEIR OWN at about 6 months of age. Baby birds, of course, do not suckle at the breast and so are dependent on foods that have been pulverized and made ready for them by their bird mommies.

Back in the day when we were hunter/gatherers, it was most likely a handy thing to do. There was no such thing as iron-fortified cereal, grocery stores, cuisinarts or prepackaged baby food to supplement the breast milk once baby was ready for more but didn’t yet have a good set of choppers. Those days are over now and unless you live in a country where baby food is not a possibility, I just don’t get it.

It’s true that there are many ways to parent a child. But birding is just weird to me. Sorry to all those who might disagree. All sorts of stuff (viruses, bacteria) can be transmitted to baby from Mommy’s saliva. And why would you want to set that experience up as an expectation? At what age does Mommy suddenly say, “Dude, chew it yourself!” Is the little guy going to be salivating, staring and waiting for a treat every time Mommy pops something in her mouth? This idea smacks of unhealthy issues with boundaries, independence and general grossness to me.

Sorry to your friends but I’m with you on this one.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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