Is My Toddler Drunk?

I really never thought I would have to Google “How to tell if your child is drunk.”  As a bit of background, I had my first taste of beer when I was three, as my dad thought it would be amusing to put his beer in my favorite Grover cup. Beer which happened to look exactly like my favorite drink at the time, ginger ale. When I had my first child, my mother told me stories of the women in Ireland opting for Guinness as their beverage of choice, you know, for the benefit of the extra iron (OMG, how did any of us survive to adulthood?). As it turns out, Guinness isn’t the best source of iron, and you shouldn’t give alcohol to your toddlers. So, why did I have to Google drunk toddlers?

Halloween haul.

An impressive Halloween haul for this ninja.

Children love candy. They love to get it. They love to hoard it. Mostly, they like to eat it. Just look at what will happen at the end of this month. We will spend loads of funds, that is really needed elsewhere, for a holiday hardly anyone understands anymore, so our children can go door-to-door and beg for free candy. You can’t really checkout at the supermarket without hearing the whine of a child desperate for that sweet stuff displayed right at child eye level. But what about things that look like candy, but aren’t? Or candies that are meant to be enjoyed by adults? Like chocolate liqueurs?

This is my tale of woe with candy laced with alcohol. My mother had brought home a Guinness milk chocolate bar from her recent trip to Ireland. I didn’t think much about it, and I didn’t really read the wrapper. But I really should have paid more attention to what my mother had given me. Last night my husband, snuggling the baby, said he smelled like Guinness. What!? How is that possible? We don’t even keep alcohol in the house. He had a bit of brown dribble on his chin and some chocolate on his hands. We quickly figured out, that he had found the chocolate bar, that I had opened a few days prior, and had helped himself to a pip or two of the Guinness flavored chocolate. So, my husband read the wrapper and it turns out the chocolate tastes like Guinness, because there is Guinness in it!


As I start to have this sinking feeling, getting scared now, I automatically state that good old standby “But the alcohol is cooked off, it’s not like he drank Guinness.” My husband continues to read, “This product contains alcohol <1%. Not suitable for children…” and finishes the dagger in my heart with “This product is intended for purchase and enjoyment by people of legal purchase age for alcohol beverages.”


Had I gotten our toddler drunk? I felt just awful, as I started to feverishly Google symptoms of drunk toddlers. I read off a list of things to notice in your child, “He will stumble and fall often.” Check. But he always does that. “He will put his head down and leave it there.” Oh my gosh, I do that when I’m tipsy! But it was his bedtime, and that’s how he normally signals that he’s ready to go lay down. “He will take your car keys, and swear he’s OK to drive.” Oh! What the heck! This is not a real checklist! It’s satire! I need real answers!

How could I have let this happen!? What was wrong with me? Why did I leave it where he could find it? I am a stickler for making sure things the baby shouldn’t have are far out of his reach. “We’ve got to take him to the hospital.” My husband was teasing me unmercifully about my mistake, enjoying being on the opposite end of one, could see I was visibly upset and decided to lay off me a bit, “He didn’t eat very much of it, let’s just watch him for a bit.” The baby stumbled over a toy and fell over, unknowingly feeding my worry.

To be clear, the baby ended up being fine. But that was definitely a lesson for me. In my mad Googling, I came across a story of a mother whose child had food allergies, and how one day, one time, she assumed the chocolate cookies had the same ingredients as the vanilla ones ended with not one but two E.R. visits and some scary experience with Epipens. I thought about how I took for granted the packages I brought into the house, barely reading them, if at all, to check that it’s not just all sugar and preservatives. I should really be paying closer attention to those nutrition labels. Maybe if I had, this wouldn’t have happened. If only, if only, if only…

Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep last night. The guilt ate me up and spit me out. So, why would I share this horribly embarrassing story with the world?

When I had my miscarriage a month ago, the support came at me, consistently and persistently. Even when I wasn’t ready to hear that it wasn’t my fault, everyone was certain to keep reassuring me. These things happen, sometimes. We don’t know why.

In a world where even the smallest parental missteps are broadcasted on social media for the entertainment of all, being a parent has never been tougher. When you aren’t nearly as perfect as you normally are, you would not want everyone in your social circle to take that one moment to judge you. So take a moment today to be kind to that mom or dad you see struggling a little bit. Maybe they aren’t a bad parent, but are in the throes of a bad moment. From now on, we are going to stick to Brookside Chocolate:

After eating some yummy Brookside chocolate covered cranberries.

After eating some yummy Brookside chocolate covered cranberries.

And be thankful that in your quest to become a supermom, you have never has to ask yourself, “Is my toddler drunk?”

… yet.

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