On Wednesday, while shopping at Whole Foods, I received a telephone call asking me to comment on Headline News about Alicia Silverstone kiss feeding her 10 mos child as shown on her website. My first thought was penguins do this, not humans. Penguins have flippers not hands. Hum??
For babies, toddlers and children – eating their own food, using their hands and mouth is part of the feeding and eating experience. It is developmentally necessary. There are behavioral, emotional and nutritional consequences to mouth feeding aka “kiss feeding”.
Behavioral: I am sure everyone has bitten a piece of food during a meal for their child to try or perhaps have used their teeth to break something when they didn’t have a knife. However, to make a regular habit of chewing your child’s food especially at the age of 10 mos or older is skipping a developmental stage of growth for your baby and toddlers. What is developmentally appropriate? Well first of all, children need to use their hands – touching, greasing, feeling temperatures, textures and practicing the pincer grasp (btwn 9-12mos). Next, babies, toddlers and children all need to taste food, explore texture and temperature in their mouth. Most importantly they need to learn to chew, use their teeth and use their tongue to push food back.
For Example: Whether it is eating finger foods, or learning to use a utensil, these behaviors are taught at a young age. I think people need to consider the effect of this “kiss feeding” as a daily habit. Will the child learn to chew their food? Will the child think it is appropriate to eat out of another human’s mouth? This is the time to create positive eating habits such as sitting at a table, and making decisions about food and quantity.
Emotional: It is recommended that the child be in control of feeding. This helps to slowly teach self-esteem and independence. A child must learn pre-feeding skills, oral motor skills and feeding skills. If a child cannot choose portion sizes, colors or textures because the food is being pre-chewed by a parent, the ability to make decisions and be a confident eater is minimized.. Lack of choice is understood by the child or toddler as lack of control and dependence on the parent.
Nutritional Quality: Digestion begins in the mouth. If a parent is chewing the child’s food, the parent is breaking down the food. The child can do this. A blender doesn’t add enzymes and bacteria. Salvia does. I think chewing your kids food is taking away your child’s opportunity to use their amazing bodies. Again, at ten mos. a child should be learning to chew, choose and feel independent with food. Finally, a vegan diet has risks for deficiencies of B12, calcium, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, and Vit D. If someone is raising their baby or child on this limited diet, be sure to seek medical advice to ensure your child’s intake is not deficient.
When thinking about the experience of eating, always consider your child’s behavioral, emotional and nutritional development for the length of their life.
My commentary on HLN will be posted to view in the next 24 hours. Check back later or follow MomDishesItOut on Facebook to get the link.