A mum has defended her decision to allow her baby to eat dirt and sand, claiming it “builds his immune system”.
Alice Bender, 22, sparked a fierce debate after she shared videos of eight-month-old Fern chewing on various items, including a rock, on TikTok.
Instead, the young mum, from Arizona in the US, has taken aim at a “series of billion dollar campaigns” within the medicine industry which she claims have shifted “the public’s perspective” on germs and babies.
“I do not fear bacteria. In fact, I welcome it. I trust nature and my baby. It is not a coincidence babies have this instinct while they are breastfeeding,” she says in one video, which has since been viewed more than 12 million times.
Alice, who is raising her child to be vegan, says babies should be exposed to bacteria, as long as they are being breastfed to build their immunity to germs.
“Babies only have this instinct while they are breastfeeding for a reason. Our milk is there to protect them while they build their immune system,” she said.
“Breast milk is incredible. Breast milk is the original medicine. It is far superior to any man-made medicine. Breast milk is alive and constantly changing to meet our babies’ current needs.”
The 22-year-old went on to say that she would not expect her child to continue being exposed to so much bacteria once he is no longer breastfeeding, “because there would be nothing for him to fall back on if he were to get sick.”
“We should not be at a war with nature. We are nature. I’ve noticed Fern is incredibly healthy compared to other babies,” Alice continued.
“He is the first chunky baby in our immediate family. People always compliment us on how healthy, calm, and alert he is when we’re in public.”
Unsurprisingly, people are divided over Alice’s unusual holistic parenting style, with one commenting they “worry for the future of our country.”
“My baby, unfortunately, isn’t exclusively breastfed but I don’t shelter him from dirt and shopping carts either. Eight months and totally healthy,” one supportive TikTok user commented, while another added: “This is how babies build their immune systems! Go mom!”
Meanwhile, another slightly disapproving parent commented: “Are you not worried about parasites? What would you do to protect him from the possibility of getting them by eating dirt?”
“Dirt won’t hurt, but letting them bite the belt from the grocery store? Nah…” another wrote.
The NHS does advocate breastfeeding for helping build a child’s immune system, but it’s probably best if you don’t hand out rocks as chew toys.