These Sprays Promise to End Back Talk, Night Terrors & So Much More -- but Do They Work?


When Hawk & Sloane reached out and asked if I wanted to check out its line of parenting sprays, I jumped at the chance. I'm all for anything that makes raising little people into big ones easier. But while most of the sprays really did help make life as a mom a little easier, it's the Sassy Spray -- a foul-tasting spray designed to stop kids from talking back or swearing -- that I can't quite wrap my head around. 


The total line includes six sprays, which, when listed out, kind of sound like a band of dwarfs. There's Stinky Spray, Soothie Spray, Scary Spray, Sleepy Spray, Lice Spray, and Sassy Spray. 

More from CafeMom: Coffee Shop Bans Kids but Not Dogs & Parents Are Losing Their Minds


As you could imagine, the Soothie Spray and Stinky Spray are for the diaper-sporting crowd, and work as a soothing bottom spray and dirty-diaper deodorizer, respectively.

The Scary Spray and Sleepy Spray are liquid gold. One of my 4-year-old twins has been having night terrors recently. We let him spray the room "for monsters" with a few squirts of the citrus-scented Scary Spray before bed and he's been having less than half his usual number of wake-ups. The lavender-scented Sleepy Spray seems to help my other son settle down much faster at night, so I'm not fielding 17 requests for drinks of water or refluffed pillows.

As for the Lice Spray, let's knock on wood that I never, ever have to try it. What's this table? Plastic? Knocking on it anyway.

But the spray that really made me question life was the Sassy Spray. "An oral disciplinary spray," the box reads. "The modern version of soap in the mouth." 


To be honest, I thought this was a prank product, a little fun "gotcha" thrown in for moms to trick their kids. I pulled the bottle out and shot a few healthy squirts into my own mouth, fully expecting to taste bubble gum or cotton candy or something like that. 

NOPE. This is a legit, old-fashioned, alternative-to-soap-in-the-mouth, how-dare-you-talk-to-me-that-way oral discipline spray. It tastes like a mix of apple cider vinegar, broccoli, and 1947. And while I have zero doubts that it would be effective, I struggle to see why this is a parenting product that needs to exist today.

Hawk & Sloane cofounder Hollie Siglin says Sassy Spray wasn't just one of their ideas for a parenting spray -- it was the original one. "Sassy Spray is how everything began," she tells CafeMom. "Candice [Romo, cofounder] mentioned that she had read that a spoonful of apple cider vinegar on the tongue would help for talking back. Then we decided it would be easier to put it in a spray bottle, that way you could take it on the go. We started using it and it was working wonders, which is when we started talking about why no one was selling this."

Siglin says the spray provides vitamins too. "We also liked the idea of adding the Vita Veggies to the Sassy Spray so that it added a little extra dose of health while still leaving a bitter taste -- a dose of discipline and a dash of nutrition." A noble sentiment, though how much of an impact those vitamins have when your children are spitting and scraping their tongues remains to be seen. 

We've all cringed at the scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie's mom washes his mouth out with soap after he said the fudge-word-that-isn't-fudge. That movie is considered an oldie for a reason -- because no one does things like that anymore. 

It's worth noting that while the practice of making children put something foul in their mouth isn't illegal per se, there have been cases where the state has stepped in and declared it child abuse when a parent went too far in washing a child's mouth out with soap or making a child drink hot sauce for using bad words. Corporal punishment is a slippery slope some parents aren't willing to climb onto.  

Nancy Brooks, MS, PsyD (Can), says bonus nutrients or not, parents should think twice before using a spray like this. "Either washing a child's mouth out with soap or spraying a foul-tasting substance into their mouth is not an effective way to teach a child right from wrong," she tells CafeMom. "This can absolutely have an effect on a child's development, self-esteem, and ability to trust the parent will always do the right thing. Moreover this doesn't teach a child not to swear or talk back -- it teaches them that their parent won't keep them safe."

Yes, it's important to teach kids how to speak respectfully. And it's not always easy to get your kids to listen to you. But is spraying bad tastes into their mouth for talking back a smart parenting hack? Or does it violate their physical boundaries in the same way that spanking does?

More from CafeMom: The Hysterical Way a Dad Learned 'Kids Have No Shame' Is Every Potty-Training Parent

I know vintage things are cool again, and that every family handles discipline differently. And maybe for some moms, flashing this bottle from their bag would be all their child needs to act like a perfect little angel, no actual spritz required. But this is one parenting hack I'm passing on.

Read More >