Mum defends unusual reason she lets her baby eat dirt and chew rocks: 'I trust nature and my baby'

Picture: TikTok
Picture: TikTok 

At some point your baby will pick up a rock or sand, lift their chubby little arms to their mouths and try to eat them.

While most parents wouldn't panic, they are also unlikley to actively encourage it. But for one mum, Alice Bender, she's happy to let her eight-month-old eat these by the fistfuls.

The 22-year-old posted a TikTok clip showing a series of photos - set to an 'Amityville Horror' Halloween sound effect track - of her son Fern sucking rocks and piling dirt into his mouth, overlayed with text explaining her stance.

"Why I let my exclusively breastfed baby eat sticks, rocks, dirt, sand, and unsanitised shopping carts," she begins in the video, which has been viewed more than 12.6 million times. 

"In the last couple (of) hundred years the allopathic industry (modern medicine reliant on drugs/surgery) has taken the world by storm. This did not happen by accident, it happened after a series of billion dollar campaigns intended to shift the public's perspective on health," she argues.

"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."

TikTok users were divided over her parenting approach, with many questioning if it was satire.

"Yo, are you kidding?." asked one. "Why does this video have likes?," enquired another.

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Others praised the idea, saying it would help build immunity. 

"Did the same with my daughter and she's the healthiest five-year-old I've ever met," one said.

"This is how babies build their immune system. Go mum!," another added.

Others pointed out that dirt could harbour nasty parasites and that there was a fine line between exposing kids to bacteria and not taking adequate precautions.

"Aren't you worried about parasites? What would you do to protect him from the possibility of getting them from eating dirt?," one asked.

"There is an extend to how much that should go on...," added another, "Can't they get worms or parasites? Like I understand that you are building (their) immune system, but eating first isn't TOO much?," one enquired.

The risk of her baby choking on the stones was also raised.

"When you have to take your baby to the ER and they find rocks and sticks stuck in its body," one said. "Um...choking?," agreed another.

It's not the first time Bender's strong views have sparked controversy. Earlier this year her TikTok claiming cots were 'little baby jail cells' went viral, as she likened parents setting bedtimes as 'abuse'. 

"We literally buy these little baby jail cells so we can leave our baby in there and walk away," Bender said in that clip. 

"I don't have a crib because I will never enforce a bedtime for my child. Babies are people too and forcing anyone to sleep when they're not tired is inhumane."

The mum, who leads a vegan, organic lifestyle is also an advocate for freebirth - eschewing having a medical birth attendant) and believes hospitals profit from birth interventions.