Inside: Is it okay for kids to drink sparkling water? Is it bad for teeth? Is it hydrating? Get the facts about fizzy water here.
For kids who don’t love plain water and parents who aren’t fans of soda, sparkling water can feel like a good compromise.
But if you’ve wondered whether it’s okay for them to drink, I’ve got answers for you!
What is Sparkling Water?
Sparkling water is water that’s carbonated, which means it has carbon dioxide gas added to give it fizz and a slightly tangy taste. Sparkling water can be plain or lightly flavored (like LaCroix) but typically has no sugar.
There are other kinds of fizzy water too, like:
- Sparkling mineral water: Water from an underground source, like a spring, that naturally contains minerals such as magnesium and calcium (example: Perrier)
- Club soda: Carbonated water with minerals like sodium bicarbonate added to it, slightly salty tasting
- Tonic water: Carbonated water with added quinine (a bitter compound that comes from the bark of a tree) and typically sweetened to balance the bitterness
Is Sparkling Water Healthy?
Sparkling water that’s either plain or unsweetened is a better choice than soda, fruit punches, and other super-sweetened drinks because sugary drinks are the number-one source of added sugar for kids. What are healthy drinks for kids? Find out!
Is Sparkling Water Hydrating?
Yes. Sparkling water is 100 percent water, and according to researchers, it’s just as hydrating as plain water is.
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Is Sparkling Water Bad For Teeth?
Maybe. What kids drink has a big impact on their teeth. Beverages like soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks are actually the leading cause of tooth decay in kids and teens, according to the American Dental Association. Over time, those drinks can erode tooth enamel, the protective covering on teeth that blocks decay.
Drinks that have a pH less than 4 are considered to be potentially damaging to teeth, according to research. Flavored sparkling waters have a low pH between 2.74-3.34, according to researchers from the University of Birmingham School of Dentistry in the UK, who tested a sampling of flavored sparkling waters on the market.
In comparison, here’s the pH of some other common drinks:
|Perrier Mineral Water||5.3|
|Canada Dry Club Soda||5.2|
|Minute Maid 100% Orange Juice||3.82|
|Tropicana 100% Apple Juice||3.5|
The researchers say sparkling water drinks have a potential to erode tooth enamel and should be considered “acidic fruit drinks” instead of merely “flavored water”.
Why are they so acidic? Carbonation itself lowers the pH of the water. But other ingredients are added that can lower it even more, especially citric acid, which is used as a flavoring and preservative.
Citric acid may be listed as its own ingredient on labels or as “natural flavors”. (Wondering what “natural flavor” even means? Read: What are Natural Flavors? Get The Facts!)
This isn’t a big deal if your kids only have these occasionally–and certainly doesn’t mean you should stop serving them- but it’s good to know if your kids (or you!) drink these beverages regularly.
Is Sparkling Water Bad For Bones?
No. Carbonated beverages have been blamed for being harmful to bones by triggering the body to excrete calcium in the urine. But according to research, this is only an issue with caffeinated beverages–and even still, probably not in a meaningful way.
What About Regular (Flat) Flavored Water?
It’s okay, but you should read labels closely. There are a lot of choices, and the ingredients vary.
Some (like Dasani flavored water) contain artificial sweeteners like Sucralose. Others (like Rethink water) have “natural” sweeteners like monk fruit. And some contain sugar, like Capri Sun Roarin Water, which has two teaspoons of added sugar per pouch.
You can also buy drops that you add to water for flavors. Read these labels closely too. Some contain synthetic dyes and certain varieties have caffeine.
What Should You Do?
Read the ingredients. Don’t assume that all flavored waters are simply water with a squeeze of natural fruit. Ingredients vary widely and might include sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Don’t let kids sip them throughout the day. Ideally, serve sparkling water with food to balance out some of the acidity. And discourage kids from swishing them around in their mouth–using a (ideally, reusable) straw can help prevent that.
Keep serving regular plain water, especially when kids are parched from playing sports or being in the heat, so they learn to associate it with quenching their thirst.