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Can I give my baby alcohol to sleep?

It’s common for parents to want to do whatever they can to help their baby sleep better. Lack of sleep for both baby and parents can be exhausting. Some parents may wonder if giving their baby alcohol could help the baby fall asleep and stay asleep longer. While this may seem tempting, giving alcohol to babies is extremely dangerous and should never be done.

Is It Safe to Give a Baby Alcohol?

No, it is never safe to give alcohol to a baby. Babies’ bodies and brains are still developing rapidly, and alcohol is toxic for their systems. Even a small amount of alcohol can be very harmful to a baby.

Some key reasons why alcohol should never be given to a baby include:

  • Baby’s livers can’t process alcohol well – A baby’s liver is not mature enough to metabolize and excrete alcohol effectively. Alcohol stays in a baby’s bloodstream much longer than an adult’s, prolonging exposure.
  • Hindered brain development – Alcohol can interfere with synapses forming in the brain during development, which can impair learning, behavior, and function.
  • Dehydration – Alcohol has a diuretic effect, meaning it makes the body lose more fluids. Babies are especially prone to dehydration.
  • Seizures – Alcohol can cause the blood sugar levels to drop dangerously low in infants, raising seizure risks.
  • Respiratory distress – Alcohol can compromise baby’s gag reflex and breathing control.

Due to these threats, no amount of alcohol is safe for a baby. Giving alcohol should be avoided completely.

Dangers of Giving Alcohol to Babies

Giving any amount of alcohol to a baby puts them at risk for many dangers and serious health consequences. Some of the risks include:

Impaired Brain Development

A baby’s brain is rapidly developing, forming vital neural connections. Alcohol exposure can severely disrupt this process. It can damage parts of the brain responsible for learning, emotion, behavior, memory, motor skills, and more. The impact depends on factors like how much alcohol is consumed and the timing, but any alcohol can cause permanent brain abnormalities.

Growth Problems

Alcohol suppresses the growth hormone in babies and children. It can prevent them from growing properly and gaining weight appropriately. This growth stunting effect can be permanent.

Breathing Problems

Alcohol is a respiratory depressant. It can make infant breathing very slow or even stop. It also increases the risk of choking on vomit while intoxicated. These effects can be fatal.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

If a baby is exposed to alcohol in the womb, they are at high risk for fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). FASDs include physical defects, learning disabilities, impaired development, and behavioral problems that last a lifetime. No amount of alcohol in pregnancy is safe.

Increased Risk of SIDS

Research shows that babies who ingest alcohol are significantly more likely to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Alcohol is believed to negatively impact their arousal mechanisms, breathing, and heart rate control.

No Proven Benefits to Giving Babies Alcohol

Some parents may rationalize giving alcohol by thinking it has some benefits, like helping baby sleep. However, there is no research showing benefits of giving alcohol to infants. Any claims are unproven. Even if alcohol did help babies fall asleep faster, the extreme risks far outweigh any potential gain. There are safe ways to promote better sleep for babies without resorting to alcohol.

Safe Ways to Help Babies Sleep

If your baby is having trouble sleeping, talk to your pediatrician. There are many effective, safe ways to help babies sleep better that you can try:

  • Establish a relaxing pre-bedtime routine, like a bath and lullabies.
  • Use a white noise machine.
  • Make sure the sleep environment is cool, dark, and comfortable.
  • Avoid overstimulation and screens before bedtime.
  • Put baby to bed drowsy but awake to learn self-soothing.
  • Make sure baby isn’t hungry, wet, sick, or needing a diaper change.
  • Try different swaddling techniques.
  • Gently rock or sway baby to sleep.
  • Consider using a pacifier.

Have patience, as sleep habits can take time to improve. Talk to your pediatrician if problems persist. Medications or supplements for babies should always be avoided.

Signs of Alcohol Intoxication in Babies

If you suspect your baby has ingested alcohol, seek medical help immediately. Call your doctor or call 911. Babies metabolize alcohol differently than adults, so signs of intoxication may include:

  • Lethargy or difficulty waking up
  • Poor reflexes
  • Weak, decreased muscle tone
  • Trouble breathing
  • Decreased body temperature
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Seizures

The amount of alcohol that can cause intoxication depends on factors like the baby’s size and age. But even small amounts can be toxic. Always treat potential alcohol ingestion as a medical emergency.

Preventing Access to Alcohol

To keep your baby safe, alcohol should be avoided completely. Here are some tips to prevent access:

  • Do not drink alcohol yourself when caring for your baby.
  • Pour out any unfinished alcoholic drinks after you are done.
  • Keep alcohol sealed and stored completely out of baby’s reach.
  • Avoid bringing baby into environments where alcohol is served.
  • Do not place alcohol in bottles or cups that baby may grab.
  • Do not share sips of alcohol with baby even in jest.
  • Ask friends and family not to give alcohol to baby.

It only takes a few seconds for a baby to ingest alcohol left within reach. Preventing access is the best way to avoid accidents.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you have any concerns about your baby’s sleep, development, or safety, talk to their pediatrician. Ask about healthy sleep training techniques. Also inform your doctor if someone has given your baby alcohol. Doctors can provide guidance, resources, and interventions to keep your baby safe and support healthy development.

The Dangers Outweigh Any Potential Benefits

While sleep deprivation is difficult, giving alcohol to a baby is never the solution. The profound, lifelong risks decisively outweigh any unproven potential benefits. Alcohol’s effects on vulnerable babies can be catastrophic. Promoting healthy sleep habits safely is crucial. If you’re struggling, work with your pediatrician and support system. With time and consistency, sleep can improve. Stay strong and keep alcohol far away from your precious baby.


Giving alcohol to babies is extremely dangerous and should never be done. Alcohol can cause impairments to baby’s developing brain, growth, and respiratory system. The risks include injuries, disorders, permanent disabilities, and even death. There are no proven benefits to giving babies alcohol for sleep or any other reason. Fortunately, there are many safe, effective ways to promote healthy sleep. If you have concerns about your baby’s sleep or suspect alcohol exposure, speak to their doctor right away for help. With attentive care and caution, you can ensure your baby grows up healthy while getting the rest they need.