It might seem trivial or harmless to some; but, feeding your baby or toddler from your own spoon or from any spoon other than the child’s own utensils can harm him/her. I have always been strict about hygiene and sanitation at home even when I was still single. This behaviour has been highly influenced by my upbringing and the Microbiology and other Food Safety and Sanitation subjects I had when I took up Hotel and Restaurant Administration in UP, Diliman. The parenting books I read when I was still pregnant also taught me a lot about it. Thus, I became all the more conscious about sanitation when I finally gave birth to my baby.
My younger brother and I grew up having our own set of plates, glasses and eating utensils. It wasn’t our practice at home to share these things unlike in other households. And it was with this same mindset and approach that I planned to raise my child. So when our little boy started eating solids, we excitedly purchased him his own set of bowl, plate, cup and eating utensils.
Then just before Christmas, our two-year old son got sick. Our very active toddler suddenly didn’t have the energy to play. He refused to eat or drink. He had high fever that reached almost 40 degrees Celsius and he was vomiting. I got worried so I brought him immediately to his pediatrician. That was when we discovered what was bothering him. He had plenty of “singaw” inside his mouth. (The medical term is quite long and I had some difficulty reading his doctor’s handwriting.) That caused his high fever and refusal to eat or drink. A “singaw” may just be a source of discomfort to us adults; but in young children, this can cause fever. The doctor said that children with high fever usually vomit. That explains it.
But how did he get “singaw?” The doctor asked me and our maid if we had “singaw” at that time. But we didn’t. She said that it is viral and contagious. One can get it upon contact with the saliva of the person with “singaw” like if you used the eating utensils of the person with “singaw.” So, from whom did Yanthy get his “singaw?” We discovered early that evening that Yanthy got it from his Dad who had fed Yanthy the night before from his own spoon while he was eating dinner. My husband and I have already agreed in the past that we will only feed our son using his own utensils but he sometimes forgets. This could be because he grew up sharing his eating utensils with his immediate family members. It was a habit that he finds difficult to break. Unfortunately, this bad habit caused our toddler to get sick.
It was very challenging to feed Yanthy while he had “singaw” in his mouth. He found it painful to eat or drink. He refused to drink even his milk. He lost a lot of weight. And he continued to have high fevers which led him to vomit. I just kept wiping him with a face towel dipped in cold water to keep his fever down because his fever was high even with paracetamol. His doctor said that his condition will only improve once the many “singaw” in his mouth decreases in number and eventually disappear. His appetite went back after around a week which was what the doctor predicted.
The other day, I read in a parenting magazine that one can also pass on cavities to babies or toddlers through their saliva when they share their eating utensils with them. The article said that babies naturally do not have that bacteria in their mouth and they usually get these from their moms when the moms feed them using the mom’s spoon or fork. Having learned that, I grew in conviction to be vigilant with what goes inside my son’s mouth.
Sharing food with a baby or toddler seems to be a very sweet gesture but it can be very harmful. It can bring sickness or cavities to the child. So, next time you are tempted to feed a child using your own spoon, remember that you’re not only sharing the food… you might also be sharing a virus or cavity-causing bacteria. Use his/her own eating utensils instead. It’s better to be safe than sorry; because in the end, the child will suffer either from “singaw,” high fever and vomiting or toothache.