21 Month Old Won't Stop Spitting Drinks

Updated on March 28, 2007
K.E. asks from Bernville, PA
12 answers

My 21 month old daughter spits every time she drinks. This seems to strike at random times while she has a drink- sometimes as soon as she begins to drink, sometimes after she has drank a few sips, sometimes after half the cup. She takes a big swig and just spits it out everywhere!!! Things I have tried: timeouts, taking the drink away EVERY time she does this, yelling, looking her in the eye and telling her firmly that this is unacceptable, holding her while she drinks, praising her when she doesn't spit, ignoring the behavior, taking away juice or chocolate milk and immediately replacing it with water, The Love and Logic for Toddlers "Uh Oh Song", and various other approaches. The cat even got involved one day when she inadvertently (or was it on purpose?) was covered by juice - the cat jumped up and hissed in my daughter's face and nearly got her with kitty claws. The spitting occurs anywhere we go - home, grandparents, friends, church, etc, and it makes no difference what beverage we give her. The doctor says she is fine and has no physical reason to do this.

This has gone on for nearly 6 months and I am at my wits end. Help!

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So What Happened?

We have put her on ultra-tight supervision with drinks. She must sit at the table with her drink so if she spits, the mess is centralized and easy to clean up. I only give her 1/2 of a sippy cup full at a time and praise her profusely when she doesn't spit. I tried giving her drinks in a regular cup and she won't keep her hands out of it or she shakes it around making a mess as well. I've also been constantly reminding her that drinks stay in her mouth. We've gone 2 days so far with only one spitting incident so I guess things are improving! Thank you all for your suggestions!

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answers from Washington DC on

I really didn't have any advice to offer but wanted to let you know that you are not alone! My 22 month old son drinks and then either spits it or lets it all dribble down the front of his shirt and thinks it is hilarious! I don't understand it but we take his cup and he can't have it back until its been about 10 minutes. He's usually done playing by then and just wants to drink it.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My 2 year old likes to drink, then let the liquid dribble from her mouth and/or pours the liquid out of the container/cup. One rule to try is to keep your child in a specified area for drinking (which is what my mom/babysitter does with my daughter) so any mess is easier to clean up. Also I really like the ideas presented about having the child clean up the mess they make. I'm going to try this next time. Sorry I don't have much to offer. Good luck!



answers from Allentown on

There might be a problem where the flow of the drink is too much for her to handle in her mouth, and also depending on the type of drink it could be too sour for her tastebuds. I would try finding a cup that is spill proof and if that doesn't work, it could be that she is very thirsty and is drinking way too fast. Always have a drink available to her at all times, that way when she's too thirsty she wont feel compelled to suck the whole thing down fast. The only other response would be to check with your doctor then. Sometimes there is a swallowing problem, try to count before yelling.

Best of luck



answers from Philadelphia on

Good Luck, my little one does this too, It's a kid thing, they usually outgrow, some kids quicker than others. I found that sometimes the juice was to cold for him, but mostly it was just him being a kid. Try keeping her occupied so that she doesn't think of doing this anymore. I have also tried taking the lid off the sippy cup, I she drinks like a big girl than she can have very small amounts in a big girl cup. Good luck!!



answers from Reading on

I've been through this phase and I wish I could offer some advice, but nothing worked for me either. I even resorted to smacking her butt once I was so desperate to get her to stop when she spit all over her baby brother who was only 6 months old at the time. I was so mad (although the baby thought it was hilarious!)That I wacked her bottom and she just looked at me like I was crazy. She eventually just outgrew it. I stopped giving her juice or milk unless she was in a highchair. That way at least when she was spitting on the floor it was just water! She did outgrow it eventually, although it did take a few months. Just keep giving time outs when she does it. 2 minutes standing up facing a wall is what I did. Good luck!



answers from Scranton on

My son was doing the same thing and now has upgraded to just spilling and slashing what to do about it i don't know i am hoping it is just testing limits and they will stop soon all i do anymore is take the drink away put him on a timeout and get out the paper towels if you do happen to find another answer to it please let me know



answers from Scranton on

Unfortunatly, I don't have any advice for you, but I just want to let you know I am there too my 13 month old does it. Spit it right in daddy's dace the other day its like she blubbers at the lips to shoot it far lol She doesn't do it all of the time, but she does it enough. I hope all of our little ones grow out of it really soon!!!



answers from York on

This may seem simple & silly... but what works often with my son is I say the expected behavior to him & have him repeat it back to me. For example, I'd say "my drink stays in my mouth. My drink stays...." and pause for him to finish with "in my mouth."

If she spits the drink, I'd try again. This time adding the consequence "That's not okay. If you spit your drink again, Mom will (consequence that she REALLY dislikes). Drinks stay in my mouth. Drinks stay...." pause again for her to repeat.

Hope this helps.



answers from Scranton on

I'm not going to be much help, but my son (he's 19 months old now) used to do the same thing. His started because he saw his older cousin do it and imitated the behavior. He eventually stopped, but it was really annoying when he did it, not to metion messy. The worst part was he found it hilarious! Time-outs worked best for me in curing the behavior. Also, I did the same thing you tried... I switched to only water whenever he did it.



answers from Philadelphia on

My son did similar and also would throw his drinks everywhere. I tried all the "appropriate" verbal and actions to try and stop him. One day while in the kitchen he did it again. Sick of cleaning it up all the time. I told him he was going to have to clean it up himself and he was not going to do anything until he did. His protest was heard all thru the neighborhood. (i got a worried phone call from one because he was so loud) I grabbed a milk crate for a "time out spot" right infront of the spill (quite uncomfortable) and put a sponge in his hand. He kept getting up and saying no. I put him back and just kept telling him each time that he had to clean it up and he could sit there until it was finally done. Granted after almost 45+min of screaming and protest, he finally gave in and wiped it up. He never did it again. I also explained to him that it was taking away from our play time too. Mommy spent so much time cleaning up this sprays and that was time we could have been playing.
But 6mths later it changed to now smashing + grinding cereal into the carpet and couches. And the only thing that got him to stop that was making him vacuum up all the mess , with which he was petrified of the vacuum's noise. So after having to hold the vacuum hose and clean up the mess himself he never did it again.
Please don't think I am a mean mom, I just knew he hated the thing and it was the only thing that worked to get him to stop after all other means were tried. And if you don't want to have to clean it up,don't fling or spit it everywhere.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't really have much advice as my 18 month old son has taken to this and when he does it, my 2 1/2 year old thinks it's the funniest thing EVER and also does it, but I just take the drinks away from them and firmly tell them NO spitting out drinks. They may or may not throw their tantrum but I stay firm and try to distract them with a toy. It seems to have curbed the behavior while they are still thirsty but almost EVERY time, my son will do it when he is no longer thirsty - I take it away and he goes and plays... it drives me up a wall but at least now I don't have the tantrum to deal with... and I'm hoping he'll just get bored with it and stop doing it.



answers from Harrisburg on

Let me know if you find out how to end this one.LOL. My 13 month old does this all the time. I find that if I ignore her she does it more, because she doesnt think I am watching her. So, I do what you are doing. I tell her,"We dont spit out our drink", and I take it away. Or I try to give her a big girl cup, and I hold it. She does pretty well. She doesnt spit it out either. I have also found that if I allow her to have a drink at all times,"Usually water", she wont spit it out. She feels that she is in control of her drink.