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Alicia Silverstone

Fred Prouser/Reuters

Actress Alicia Silverstone has added a whole new definition to mouth-to-mouth. Not only has she proudly announced that she feeds her 11-month-old son chewed up food directly from her mouth to his, she has also posted a YouTube video demonstration for any other moms interested in giving it a try.

In this latest instalment of Strange Things Celebrities (or their Babies) Eat (see the Hot Button post on January Jones and placenta), the star of the movie Clueless has posted the video on her website, explaining how she had just fed young Bear mochi and chewed up bits of veggies from her lunch soup. "It's his favourite … and mine," she writes on her website. (She calls the video "bear eating my mouth.")

The comments on the site are mixed, with some moms saying they have done the same or applauding Ms. Silverstone for feeding her baby a "healthy, compassionate diet." Others have pointed out that "we are NOT birds," while also tactfully suggesting that this may be why food processors were invented.

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A quick search of the Web suggests that Ms. Silverstone is far from the first mom to adopt the robin's feeding style: This panicked post seeking advice on Yahoo is from one new mom wondering how to stop her mother-in-law's habit of giving her grandkids prechewed food (though it's not clear whether it was directly by mouth).And Happy Baby USA has a story directly warning parents not to chew food and give it to their kids – mainly because (surprise!) we carry a lot of germs, and doing so transfers bacteria to baby. This could, the story suggests, even cause cavities, though it also goes so far to suggest that even blowing on your children's food (or kissing the kids) may also "cause the transmission of streptococcus" germs. Fox News took the question to a doctor, who said "it doesn't seem like a hygienic practice." Jennifer Landa, chief medical officer of BodyLogicMD, suggested that bacteria and viruses, including the herpes virus, might be transferred to the baby. "So the practice is questionable for safety, and then there's a certain ick factor here that needs to be considered."

Of course, "ick" is relative, and every new mom learns that their definition of gross tends to loosen once a burping, diaper-clad baby enters the scene. But Ms. Silverstone also describes little Bear's enthusiastic participation in her feeding ritual: "He literally crawls across the room to attack my mouth if I am eating."

Now that should get them talking at playgroup.

Do you know parents who feed their baby prechewed food? Is mouth-to-mouth eating "compassionate" mothering or just plain gross?

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