A mom faced backlash after posting a joke on TikTok about feeding her child snacks on the floor.
Several moms defended the TikToker, saying they let their babies eat from the floor all the time.
But an expert told Insider that parents should never intentionally give a baby food off the floor.
A mother who shared a TikTok of herself throwing her baby's snacks on the floor to feed him has stirred debate about safe parenting on the platform. While some questioned the behavior, Raquel Tolman's also received messages of support from several mothers on TikTok who said they didn't think she did anything wrong.
"Sometimes when I'm sick, I like to feed my baby his little snacks as if he was a chicken," Tolman said in a video she posted last weekend that's been viewed 7 million times. She then threw a handful of snacks onto the carpet where her child was lying.
While many comments were supportive, others expressed concern that her baby was eating off the floor.
"I mean, that's cute, but…hopefully, the floor is freshly vacuumed," said one commenter.
"But the floor is full of germs," another wrote.
In a follow-up video posted on December 6, Tolman addressed some of these concerns and said that the snacks she was feeding her baby were "not choke-able."
"I mean, it's carpet. It's as clean as carpet's going to be, and he plays on it all day, so I cannot change that," she said.
Tolman's video was again met with a mixed response, as some users agreed with her, and others continued to challenge her.
"Let 'em be haters! NO MOTHER is perfect," said one commenter, while another wrote, "It's carpet, yeah, but we walk around on carpet."
Several women, who said they had children of their own, stitched Tolman's original video and made TikToks themselves to say they were overwhelmingly supportive of her actions. One of them, a user named @mrskreitinger, suggested that she thought letting babies eat from the floor boosts their immune system and resistance to bacteria.
Others simply said they had no qualms about a little dirt or debris getting on their children's food.
"You can tell by the comments who don't got no kids," one user said in a response video.
"May daughter has happily eaten fistfuls of plant soil, sand from the park, blades of grass, random carpet fibers that she's found on the floor," said another user in a video. "Kids will willingly throw their snacks onto the floor and then proceed to eat them," she added.
Insider has reached out to these users for comment. Raquel Tolman did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
However normalized the habit has become, experts don't recommend that young children eat from the floor because it could expose them to harmful bacteria.
Jessica Madden, a certified pediatrician, told Insider that most floors are contaminated with germs and dirt.
"This is especially true if the floor is in a household in which shoes are not removed upon entry from outside, and/or if there are pets that spend time outdoors."
"Food from the floor is likely contaminated with microorganisms that trigger an immune system response," said Madden. But this does not mean parents should purposefully feed babies food from the floor to boost their immune systems. "There are many safer ways to boost babies' immune systems, including breastfeeding, probiotics, vaccines, and exposure to older siblings and children," she added.
Madden said it is to be expected that an infant might accidentally eat food that's been on the floor, but that parents should not intentionally feed them in this way. Instead, she recommends "putting an easy-to-wipe clean mat or tablecloth on the floor and/or giving your baby snacks out of a cup or bowl with a lid."
For more stories like this, check out coverage from Insider's Digital Culture team here.