Should you let your child taste alcohol?

Paula Wolfson,

WASHINGTON – A substantial number of parents are giving their kids an occasional taste of alcohol, in the hope it will keep them from risky behavior as teens. But does that work?

Researchers, led by a team from the Research Study Triangle in North Carolina, interviewed 1,050 mothers and their third grade kids.

About a third of the youngsters reported trying alcohol at home under parental supervision. A similar number of moms said they endorsed the practice, saying making alcohol a “forbidden fruit” would make their children more likely to engage in dangerous drinking later on.

But the researchers point to evidence that may not be the case. In an article published in the journal Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine they cite an earlier study that showed fifth grade children who were allowed to have alcohol at home, were twice as like to imbibe in middle school.

The researchers say the moms who were most likely to offer their kids a sip of wine or beer tended to come from the same demographic group: white, college-educated, employed women.

They say more education is needed for parents on the risks of underage drinking, and more study is needed on the impact that first sip of wine at seven or eight years of age can have when a kid becomes a teen.

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