Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pelican Feeding

My next door neighbor lady, an interesting character, stopped over the other day for a visit. Her husband pastors a very conservative baptist church, and she only wears dresses and often a hat too. They recently adopted their 11th child.

While talking about her baby who is almost one, she complained about the many jars of baby food they go through. I asked her if he was eating table foods yet. Then I learned something new.

She described what she called pelican feeding. She chews the food and gives it to the baby. Ewwww!!! Maybe it is a cultural thing. Have some of you heard of this?

Apparently, even though the baby has some teeth now, he refuses to eat table food unless she chews it for him first.

It seems to me that if you have always chewed someone's food for them and only given them the easily digestible form, you shouldn't be surprised that they do not want to chew for themselves.


Rhonda said...

Never heard of pelican feeding (except at the zoo)
I'm not a pediatrician but I think at around 6 or 7 mos. a baby should start picking up and putting foods to her mouth which includes chewing. This is all part of motor development...
But who knows?

a year old huh?

Kim said...

Ewwww that is soooo grosse...tell her to get a life!

Brett said...

OMGosh I'm on breakfast break and almost lost my cookies. There's something gone wrong there. That's gotta be unhygienic to say the least.

[rhymes with kerouac] said...

I saw a documentary once in which an anthropologist suggested this is how humans began kissing.

I'm not sure if that makes it more or less gross.

The chewing that is - not the kissing!

Robbymac said...

Hmm. Lucky I wasn't drinking coffee when I read this post -- it'd probably have resulted in a coffee anointing on my monitor...

But THIS TIME, Grace, I'm so very relieved you didn't post a graphic picture to accompany this post. :)

Heather said...

Oh my ... I'm speechless! I have a 1-year-old and couldn't imagine!


daisymarie said...

The spiritual implications abound in this one!

sonja said...

I'm with daisymarie on this ...

When we're used to getting everything pre-chewed, it's pretty difficult to learn how to eat on our own. It might make us a little cranky.

But in the real world, it's definitely gross. How can anyone else take care of her child? Or how can s/he go out to a restaurant? Or to another home for a meal? Ewwwww ... ick!!

christy said...

It certainly does relate to how we accept our spiritual food, does it not? We accept a word that has been "chewed" by someone else, instead of picking it up and ingesting it from the original source for ourselves.

Julie said...

okay that's what a food processor is for! I have a toddler who for a long time refused to chew her food - she would just try to swallow it whole and choke (often). It was kinda freaky. So we had to break down the food, give her small portions, and remind her to chew. But never chew it for her...

Ronni said...

Sounds like most Churches I've been in.

Did I just say that outloud?

Bill Kinnon said...

Ummm. Would have been nice if the post led with a warning for those weaker stomached amongst us. Ewww to the max!

Bob said...

Now that the nausea has passed...

On the topic of not wanting to make the move from pre-chewed to self-chewed. I haven't met a child yet who would willingly starve his/herself to death just to make a point. But I've met plenty of parents who lacked the resolve to push the child to the next stage.

Is there a church analogy here?

(BTW, my word verification was siu urp. Does that mean anything?)

Anonymous said...

In some cultures, a mother chews a spoonful of grain before offering it to her baby. Her masticating not only warms and grinds the grains but also mixes them with her digestive enzyme, ptyalin (an enzyme that’s not produced for the first 24 months)
--Rebecca Wood's website

When I read your article, I remembered hearing that mothers have done this since the beginning of time. It sounds nasty to us, but we must remember what it was like before all our modern conveniences. JT

David Cho said...

Wow, 11th child. That amazes me more than the Pelican feeding.

Pam Hogeweide said...

glad JT shared that info which I was aware of from years ago when I was in la leche league. i knew a mom who sometimes chewed her food up, but just a bit to soften it and then gave it to her baby. what jt said is accurate. the enzymes in the mom's saliva helps it to digest for the baby. and in many cultures, even today, there is no baby food or food processor. so this is what the mom does, like a bird, to feed her little one.

geesh, you guys gross out too easily. :-)

ron said...

Hmmmm...I wonder if the pelican family gets many dinner invites from outside their nest.

This gives ABC ( already been chewed ) christianity a whole new meaning.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci said...

I tried to leave this comment yesterday, but I guess it didn't work. Anyway, for those who are intrigued by such cultural peculiarities, many Inuit tribes protect their babies from sinus infection by cupping their mouths over the stuffy nose and- you guessed it- sucking the snot right out of their heads. It may be gross to us, but what a truly motherly sacrifice!

At any rate, I must have been in missions too long, as neither story particularly grossed me out.


Pam Hogeweide said...

ok, now that is gross!

paul said...

if she's still doing it when the kid is 10 there's a problem - otherwise i think it's quite loving - what she gonna do leave the poor thang to starve?

grace said...

Good point about the motor development aspect. I had not considered that, but I do have fond memories of tiny fingers trying to get a cheerio from the table to their mouth.

I don't tell her much. She's quite a talker.

She also cleans the pacifier with her mouth if it falls on the floor.

Thanks for that little tidbit. While I think kissing is great, I wouldn't want to be swapping food.

Most of the pelican pictures I found involved fish. Perhaps I should have resurrected the spam and velveeta picture.

I managed to get four kids raised without chewing food for them.

You win the prize for being the first to mention the analogy!

I was wondering if the comparison was like a bad joke that you have to explain in order for anyone to understand.
She does it somewhat discreetly in public.

It has been interesting reading the different responses about feeding and chewing because there are so many comparisons.

Eating a little piece of food isn't always as simple as it seems, is it? Besides the actual food itself, there are so many developmental and biological aspects that are a part of feeding, chewing, and digestion.

You can say that here. ;)

Wait till you read Jamie's comment. Consider this a warning. Oops, that won't work since Jamie's comment is earlier.

Interesting point about developmental delays caused by parental over-involvement. I believe there is another analogy there. Plus, I'm sure the mother chews much better than the child ever could, leading to the professionalization of chewing.

Thanks for the educational facts. Somehow pre-chewed grains sound more palatable than pre-chewed pizza and big macs.
While I didn't use food-grinders, I did take advantage of cereals and baby food. It would be difficult to not have some method of grinding food in the months when babies are first learning to eat.

I really admire this family in that they see adoption as part of their mission. I think this is a great example of being missional, the willingness to actually take in a child in need and make them a part of your family.

Interesting point, would cross-feeding also be considered acceptable, or only a mother to her own child?

Along the lines of what I just said to Ron, among the moms I knew there were mixed opinions about nursing another person's child. Some were totally comfortable with it, and some said, absolutely not. What do you think of this?
Not to stereotype, but perhaps men are more easily grossed out than women? :)

Your original comment must have been caught in the phlegm filter.
I am extremely grateful for those little rubber snot-suckers.

Believe me, the poor thang isn't starving. He is already over 20 pounds, and he has his mama wrapped around his pudgy little fingers.