Actresses Alicia Silverstone and January Jones have both chosen to take part in practices that aren't part of the mainstream parenting culture.

Actresses Alicia Silverstone and January Jones have both chosen to take part in practices that are outside the mainstream parenting culture.

Celebrity mums Alicia Silverstone and January Jones recently made headlines around the world for their parenting choices - Silverstone for feeding her son pre-chewed food from her mouth, and Jones for announcing that she ate her placenta in capsule form after the birth of her son Xander.

Public opinion was divided on the benefits and risks of each practice, but they were far from being the only controversial ways parents can choose to birth and raise their children.

Public opinion is divided on the benefits and risks of each practice 

From freebirthing to lotus birthing, raising your children with no gender to raising them with no formal education, it seems there's a parenting philosophy to suit everyone.

Alicia Silverstone caused a media storm when she released video of her feeding her son Bear from her mouth. <b>Pre-mastication</b> (or 'pre-chewing') is a standard practice in some non-Western cultures – it’s said to continue the immune-system-building process that begins with breastfeeding. But people against the practice believe it raises the risk of passing on illnesses (especially HIV), and dental disease. Click for more photos

Alternative parenting practices

Alicia Silverstone caused a media storm when she released video of her feeding her son Bear from her mouth. Pre-mastication (or 'pre-chewing') is a standard practice in some non-Western cultures – it’s said to continue the immune-system-building process that begins with breastfeeding. But people against the practice believe it raises the risk of passing on illnesses (especially HIV), and dental disease.

  • Alicia Silverstone caused a media storm when she released video of her feeding her son Bear from her mouth. <b>Pre-mastication</b> (or 'pre-chewing') is a standard practice in some non-Western cultures – it’s said to continue the immune-system-building process that begins with breastfeeding. But people against the practice believe it raises the risk of passing on illnesses (especially HIV), and dental disease.
  • Most women in Western society never really think of the placenta after giving birth, but others eat it, usually in capsule form. Women who take part in <b>placenta ingestion</b> – including actress January Jones – believe it help mums get back into good mental and physical shape after the birth. “It's something I was very hesitant about, but we're only the only mammals who don't ingest out own placentas. I suggest it to all mums,” Jones has said.
  • If you’re not going to eat the placenta, you might want to try a <b>lotus birth</b> – this is when you leave the organ attached to your baby until it dries up and drops off (which usually takes up to 10 days). Those who believe in lotus birth say this lets energy, or blood and other nutrients, transfer at a natural rate to the baby.
  • Who needs nappies when you can let your baby pee or poop over a potty, sink or the ground? It's called <b>elimination communication</b>, in which parents watch their child for signs they're ready to go, then hold them up as they get rid of the waste. Actress Mayim Bialik, a mum of two, has said, “I do believe babies are born potty-trained. They’re born knowing, and are able to give subtle signals that become very prominent if you reinforce them.”
  • <b>Unschooling</b> takes homeschooling to a whole new level… or no level at all. Instead of using traditional, formalised education methods, children who are “unschooled” learn through experiences in everyday life. George Bernard Shaw is often quoted when proponents are discussing unschooling: “"What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child."
  • <b>Gender neutrality</b> is raising in prominence as more parents chose to ignore stereotypical gender roles. In 2007, a British couple made international news when they decided not to reveal the gender of their newborn child, Sasha. They kept Sasha’s gender a secret, using a gender-free philosophy when buying toys and clothes, until the child started school and the truth was revealed: Sasha is a boy (pictured here in 2010 and in 2012).
  • Sometimes women give birth at home without any medical experts on hand – on purpose. This practice goes by several names, including <b>freebirthing</b>, unassisted birthing and joyous birthing. The idea is that the woman’s body knows what to do during the labouring and birth process, and that by relying on herself and her primal knowledge and instincts, the birth will be a positive experience for her and her baby.

But will they be considered 'alternative' for much longer? Attachment parenting - a philosophy which includes extended breastfeeding, communal sleeping and baby-wearing - was once seen by many as a fringe practice; now that actress Mayim Bialik has written a book on the subject, Beyond the Sling, it's hit the mainstream consciousness. Regardless, Bialik's support of elimination communication - training babies to go nappy-free from birth - is a step further than most parents would go. 

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