Toddler Cheng Cheng, from eastern China’s Anhui province, got his first taste of wine when he was only 10 months old. His father put wine-dipped chopsticks into his mouth just to get him to stop crying, and the boy developed a taste for it instantly. As he grew older, he started to consume alcohol in increasing quantities. Now, at age two, he is probably the world’s youngest alcoholic. He’s been dubbed the ‘Little Winebibber’ because he prefers alcohol over milk.
At first, Cheng Cheng’s parents and relatives joked about his affinity towards alcohol. They found it funny and cute as he guzzled an entire bottle of beer without any side effects – something highly unusual and unexpected of a child. He didn’t experience any of the symptoms of alcohol consumption, not even an increased heart rate. Cheng Cheng simply emptied the bottle without batting an eyelid, and then asked for some more! “At that time, all of us in the family have already thought that this child can really drink a lot when he grows up,” said his aunt, Cai Teng.
But now that the toddler’s story is out, the family has been severely criticized for encouraging such behavior. The local media has displayed outrage, while doctors have urged the parents to immediately put a stop to Cheng Cheng’s drinking habit. Several pediatricians have warned that since children of his age do not have well developed body organs, even a little bit of alcohol can seriously damage their health.
Getting two-year-olds to give up something they want badly can be a nightmare, and that’s exactly what Cheng Cheng’s parents are facing now. Whenever he spots a bottle of alcohol, he wants some for himself. They’ve tried hiding the bottles, but when he spots the adults in the family having a drink, he throws a tantrum until he’s given one too.
Social services are now debating if Cheng Cheng needs to be removed from his parents’ care and placed in a foster home. With all the media attention, the family is finally taking the matter seriously. His mother is quite scared of the legal consequences that she and her husband could face, so she’s doing everything she can to get the toddler to switch to milk or juice instead.
But that’s easier said than done. “As sometimes he is really noisy, we have no option but to let him to try a little bit of wine,” she said. “His eyes are always on the alcohol bottles. We can only try our best to store the bottles in a place which is not seen by him.” She also said that she’s worried about Cheng Cheng’s ability to handle alcohol. “We will not let him drink or touch alcohol anymore as we are afraid that it will affect his growth,” she promised.
Cheng Cheng’s case is probably one-of-a-kind; whoever heard of a kid being able to withstand so much alcohol? But a couple of years ago, we did feature an equally shocking story – a two-year-old Indonesian boy who was addicted to smoking. I do hope he was able to kick the habit.