Your Toddler Drank Alcohol: What Now? 9

My husband and I are alcoholics of the European fashion. This doesn’t really mean we’re alcoholics at all, it just means, generally, everyday there is some sort of alcohol consumed in our home whether that may be just a beer, a glass of wine, or vodka-infused hot cocoa in my case. According to some American standards that makes us alcoholics, but I digress. We also have four kids — four kids who were once very curious, grabby toddlers with impressive ingenuity. Much like everything in our home they are not supposed to have, my children insisted on attempting to pilfer alcoholic beverages. I am ashamed to admit at least one of them succeeded in stealing a sip.
toddler drank alchohol
However, if you type something along the lines of, “toddler drank alcohol” or some variation there of containing different wording into a search engine online, you’ll find I am not the only parent that has found themselves with a booze-swiping toddler. OK, so we’ve established it happens; what do you do if it happens to you?

First consideration, what was consumed, and how much?

As you likely know all alcohol that is marketed for sale — this naturally excludes moon shine or home brew — has an alcohol percentage. Your average beer for example is somewhere around 4 to 6 percent, where as your average vodka is more like 30 to 35 percent. Note that if there is no percentage on the packaging, this means the alcohol content is below 5 percent. If your toddler managed to get a small amount of any alcohol, while it’s not going to win you a parenting award, it’s harmless. Now, if the quantity was a little more than a sip or it was something like Everclear with a very high alcohol content, you could have a problem.

Watch for signs of intoxication or seek medical attention

In a small child, signs of intoxication will show fairly quickly. While luckily my children have never managed to drink enough to get that far, signs would be similar to those seen in adults, things such as impaired balance, flushed appearance, and confusion. In the event symptoms are mild, offer plenty of water and food and don’t let it happen again. You may call poison control at: 1-800-222-1222 if in doubt.

If more serious signs of intoxication are present, which could indicate alcohol poisoning, seek medical attention immediately. These may include altered pulse or breathing, vomiting, dramatic drop in body temperature, unconsciousness, unresponsiveness, or seizure.

What are the risks of alcohol exposure in toddlers?

While an it-happened-once or even twice slip-up isn’t likely to cause harm unless your child chugged a bottle, continued exposure to alcohol at a young age can have a long list of very nasty health effects including reduced brain growth or damage leading to developmental delays and reduced intelligence, memory loss, liver and digestive tract damage, as well as damage to the lining of the stomach and vitamin or nutrient deficiencies which may lead to other health issues and impaired growth.

How can you prevent your toddler from getting a hold of booze again?

When drinking try to use containers that can be closed and are difficult for your toddler to open. Keep the mass of your alcohol up high and locked up — yes, this means you should get a glass rather than sipping from the bottle. Keep your capped-cup up high, for example, a high shelf is a better choice than a coffee table.

Never leave partially finished drinks lying about, even if when they were placed there when your toddler wasn’t home. As a rule do a quick walk through after a date night or adult gathering to check for abandoned drinks.

Teach your toddler that mommy/daddy drinks are dangerous– much like you would the stove being hot. Avoid trying to explain that alcohol is not for children and stick to the drinks simply being a dangerous no-no. Using the same container for all of your drinks can help in this department as your child will simply know *that* cup is a no-no. You can explain how alcohol is for adults and how to drink in a healthy way when your child is older. This information is wasted on and may confuse a child at the toddler age.

If you’ve just joined the ranks of parents who freaked out just a bit when they realized their child snagged a bit of booze, understand that it does happen, it’s not the end of the world, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent just try not to let it happen again.

Has your toddler ever stolen a sip of your alcoholic drink?

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Oh man this article made me feel better. It was my husbands birthday today so he went to bed early after having drinks with one of our best friends (can’t blame him), but I had a glass of wine on the counter while I was making dinner and… well, you can guess. It was more on the couch and her dress than anything, but of course I panicked (she’s just barely shy of 2 years). I did the poison control site and then found this article and PHEW. Between the two, I’m less worried (though probably staying up late to… Read more »

Amy Russell

Gosh, thank you. My 3 1/2 year old took a sip of my watered down vodka and sparkling water. It’s been a long day, and in the process of getting her ready for bed, I left it at arms reach. A mistake I will not make again. I was on the verge of tears and total freak out when I read this. She and I had a short, but serious conversation about how mommy shouldn’t have left it out, but she can’t have mommy’s drink without asking, which she usually does anyway. Thanks for helping me through this I am… Read more »


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Yes took a sip of my drink he’s 2.
I caught him
He’d just eaten a nice size dinner and I flushed his mouth immediately after I caught him ..*with water

and offer a large cup a carrot juice. Which he drank.
I was terrified.
I love him and greatful for this site.
Things happen.
We will be ok.

Mrs. Smith

Hello, I had a really long day been ill so I took a hot bath had a glass of wine poorer a second glass after my bath but fell asleep. Woke up to my toddler 2 yrs old with the glass in his hand most of the wine was gone so I called poison control. They say he will be alright but I can’t help but cry because it’s my fault he got a hold of it. Now he fell asleep it’s 2:10am I’m up crying watching him sleep praying nothing is wrong. I’m a mother of 5 he is… Read more »


Honestly, I love your delivery OP. (Original Poster). I am a New Yorker (Manhattanite) so our lifestyle here is very similar to what most Americans would call… “European”….To us, it’s just “normal” to consume wine or champagne, quite often. My husband owns a popular upscale wine shop here in NYC, so you can only imagine! Anyway, I googled this topic because my two-year-old son insists on taking sips from my (weekly?) wine and champagne with friends here in our apartment. He takes big gulps! I try to hide my glass up on a shelf so he won’t notice when we… Read more »