Does rubbing whisky on a baby’s gums really ease teething pains?

Exhausted parents with bloodshot eyes and cranky babies are often advised by sympathetic well-wishers to put whisky on their toddler’s gums. It is age-old advice that usually warrants a chuckle. But, shockingly, giving babies alcohol to ease the pain of cutting teeth was once common practice.

When People Used Whisky to Cure Babies

When did people use whisky to treat teething babies?

The idea of giving babies even small quantities of hard liquor might horrify you, but from the mid-1800s onwards it was not unusual for parents to use it to medicate their children. In the early 1900s doctors would openly recommend alcohol as a means of helping young children sleep and to calm them down. In fact, Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup was one of the most popular products to relieve teething pains, and it was loaded with morphine and alcohol! The mixture was later denounced by the American Medical Association, but it was still available to buy until 1930. Can you believe it?

Whisky on the gums is bad for babies!

Whisky on the gums is bad for babies!

Another popular product, used to treat colic and soothe the pain caused by teething, was Woodward’s Gripe Water. It was loaded with alcohol and sugar but that didn’t deter parents from buying it in the early days. These days, however, alcohol for babies is a massive no-no. Whisky on the gums supposedly numbs them, but the medical community maintain that it has no significant numbing effect on emerging teeth. Moreover, even in small amounts, it can damage a baby’s liver. Needless to say, this odd piece of advice is nothing more than an old wives’ tale. However, that’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a glass of whisky when you get a night off from parental duties. After all, it might not soothe baby’s teething pains, but it may be soothing after a busy day as mum or dad.