A mum in the US has defended letting her baby eat sand, dirt, rocks and sticks. Watch here:
Alice Bender, from Phoenix, Arizona, revealed her unusual parenting technique in a video on TikTok, which has been viewed more than 12 million times.
The video shows her eight-month-old son Fern chomping on all sorts of things, including a shopping trolley and large rocks.
In the clip, the 22-year-old mum - who is raising Fern as a vegan - argues that her breastmilk will ensure her baby's safety, blaming a 'series of billion dollar campaigns' in Western medicine over the last 200 years for 'shifting the public's perspective' on health.
Narrating the footage of Fern munching away on various bits and pieces, Alice said: "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."
Elaborating on why she adopts this approach, the housewife said she believes babies should be exposed to bacteria - so long as they are breastfeeding.
She said: "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.
"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.
"I would not want Fern to continue doing this after we're done breastfeeding, because there would be nothing for him to fall back on if he were to get sick."
But while some mums backed her approach, others were less than impressed by her parenting.
Commenting on the video, one person said: "Are you not worried about parasites? What would you do to protect him from the possibility of getting them by eating dirt?"
Another said: "All fun and games till the baby gets a parasitic infection."
A third added: "I understand building their immune system but what about the sticks and sand cutting up his stomach?"
But for Alice, the proof is in the pudding.
"I've noticed Fern is incredibly healthy compared to other babies," she said.
"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."
Breast milk does have numerous advantages that benefit infants up into adulthood, including protecting them from infections.
The NHS website explains: "Any amount of breast milk has a positive effect. The longer you breastfeed, the longer the protection lasts and the greater the benefits.
"Breastfeeding can help to reduce your baby's risk of: infections, diarrhoea and vomiting, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), obesity, cardiovascular disease in adulthood."
However, no amount of breastmilk can prevent your baby from choking on a stick. So, as usual, it seems the middle way may be the safest course.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read