Let me be clear that it's not as if the kid gets hungry and I just hand him a dog biscuit instead of actual food. In fact, I would really much prefer that he like actual food more than he likes Milk Bones! When he first developed a taste for them, I would "explain" to him that "Bones are for dogs" and give him a graham cracker or something equally crunchy to munch instead as he sobbed "Bone! Bone! Bone!" and pointed to the Milk Bone box. I'm not exactly sure when I decided that a little Milk Bone wouldn't kill him, but I think it was probably one of those parenting fails that occurs when you just let the kid have whatever it is they want so they will stop screaming and you can get out the door and maybe not be late for once. Now I try to keep him out of bone box as much as I can but once in awhile he manages to bust through the baby gate and zip up the stairs to steal one. After all that effort, I just don't have the heart to take it away, so I let him carry it around.
You would be amazed at how many kids and parents you know have consumed some sort of dog food at one time or another. I was pretty sure that a little nibble on a Milk Bone now and then wouldn't hurt him, but even so I turned to my friends for input. A friend and colleague who has raised 5 children agreed that it's probably fine, and shared that two of her kids used to have a penchant for Milk Bones too. My brother's friend told a story about eating the free samples of Beggin' Strips at Petco because he thought they were bacon samples for the shoppers. (What???!) A couple friends suggested my little guy was teething, some reminded me that there are worse things he could put in his mouth, and most shared that they have, indeed, crunched on doggie chow at some point.
The thing that weirded me out the most was a suggestion that several people gave me: make some sort of cookie that's shaped like a dog bone, or make my own homemade dog treats to give him. While I have to agree that this would be a clever trick and I could be certain of the ingredients, somehow this just seems wrong. Maybe it's no different from letting him chow on a pilfered one every now and then, but it feels different to me!
I guess the ultimate validation that a Milk Bone here and there is ok was when the dentist told us that the little dude "has remarkably clean teeth" compared to other children his age. Case closed!