In this article, gastroenterologist Dr Vincent Ho explains premastication and what new mums need to know.
Firstly, what is premastication, or ‘bird-feeding’?
Premastication is a bird-like feeding method where the parent chews on solid food to break it down and then feeds that food directly to the baby from their mouth.
This practice has been around for a very long time, and is what our ancestors used to do to feed us as babies before the invention of pureed baby foods.
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Even today, premastication is widely practised in many traditional cultures, and a common occurrence in some South American, African and Asian countries. One study found that just over one in four babies across eight cities in China are fed by premastication.
That said, when a lot of people think about premastication, an immediate “yuckiness” factor comes to mind.
Actor Alicia Silverstone posted a video in 2012 which showed her feeding her son Bear this way, and she copped a lot of criticism for it.
But is premastication really bad for your baby?
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons.
Critics point out that premastication was shown in one US study to have an increased rate of diarrhoea among 10-month-old infants.
Some are concerned that infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis B could be transmitted to the baby through premastication.
Understandably in the age of COVID-19 it’s natural to be anxious about the prospect of transmitting nasty microbes to your baby.
On the other hand, we know that the risk of transmitting serious infections like HIV through premastication is very low.