Is Carbonated Water Good for Children?
For many parents, carbonated water is an alternative to soft drinks. The tingling sensation it causes on the child’s palate is one of the reasons for their preference. In addition, there’s no need to worry about the excess sugars and calories that typical carbonated beverages bring. But is carbonated water actually good for children? We’ll discuss just that below.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of carbonated waters, their advantages, and their impact on a child’s health. Keep reading to learn more, starting with its definition.
What is carbonated water?
Carbonated water is also known as sparkling water. It’s water in which carbon dioxide (CO₂) has been dissolved under pressure. The process results in the formation of small bubbles with a slightly sour taste and spicy sensation.
It’s also known as bubbly water, soda water, seltzer water, or sparkling water. It can be natural, when the water brings the gas from the spring, or artificial, when the gas is injected, as in soda or seltzer.
In The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers explain that the presence of CO₂ on the palate evokes pleasurable sensations by activating certain respiratory, nasal, and oral receptors.
Flavoring and salts can be included as a source of sodium and other minerals. It’s possible to find carbonated water with caffeine and other energy-giving ingredients, such as sugar. Depending on the variety of ingredients, how many types of carbonated water are there?
Types of carbonated water
There are several types of carbonated beverages, and although they all contain gas, their composition and ingredients can vary significantly.
- Naturally carbonated water: This water comes from springs or natural sources containing carbon dioxide. Minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium may be present and affect its taste. Some additional artificial carbonation may be added.
- Carbonated water or sparkling water is water to which carbon dioxide is artificially added. It can be used for drinking straight or as a base for formulating other beverages.
- Seltzer water: Carbonated water to which flavors such as herbs, fruits, or vegetables are added.
- Soda or club soda: Carbonated water to which bicarbonate is added to provide sodium.
- Tonic water: Similar to soda, but contains quinine, which gives it a bitter taste. Sugar is also added.
These varieties of carbonated waters have certain advantages when choosing beverages for our children, but they also have an impact on health. We’ll explain it below.
The advantages and impact on health
Carbonated water offers certain advantages when compared to other similar commercial beverages. However, we must be careful, because its high consumption can impact your child’s health.
The truth is that it can help promote hydration without providing the sugars that sodas and other drinks can have. But, you should be wary if your child wants to replace plain water with this type of beverage for hydration. It’s likely that the pleasant sensation it awakens in the mouth is more pleasurable than water.
Another advantage of carbonated water for consumption in children is that most of them don’t contain sugar and don’t provide empty calories, as do sugary sodas.
Impact on health
Some disadvantages of sparkling water are associated with the presence of acidity in the water. This can affect nutrition, tooth and bone development, and digestion in the child. In addition, some of them may contain sugar. So, let’s see what we know about it.
From a nutritional point of view, carbonated water is a healthy choice for the child, as most of them don’t contain sugar and, therefore, don’t add extra calories to the diet.
However, tonic waters have added sugar. So, be careful with this drink, because its excessive consumption can contribute to the possible development of obesity in children.
Another risk of using carbonated beverages is that they become a substitute for healthy foods such as milk, almond extracts, natural juices, whole fruits, and yogurt, among others. For this reason, their consumption should be occasional and shouldn’t be part of the child’s regular eating habits.
At the same time, the excess of gases in carbonated waters can cause greater satiety in the child, especially when they’re ingested before eating. In this way, they prevent the consumption of their usual diet.
For this reason, it’s best to offer it between meals as a refreshment, but not as a snack. Also, be careful with soda, as it can provide high sodium values.
Carbonated water occurs because of carbon dioxide (CO₂). This gas, when reacting with water, produces carbonic acid, which increases the acidity of carbonated beverages.
When only water and CO₂ are involved, the acidity is considered to only be slightly erosive. However, the more CO₂ included in water, the more acidic it becomes. As the journal PlosOne reveals , this characteristic can demineralize teeth and affect a child’s health.
Another study published in the journal The Korean Journal of Orthodontics supports this idea. The researchers found that carbonated water, such as soda, has negative effects on tooth enamel, decreasing its hardness and increasing wear.
Carbonated water may have a dual impact on digestion. On the one hand, although the study wasn’t done in children, the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research shows a study in which adults who drank carbonated water experienced less indigestion and constipation.
On the other hand, its excessive consumption causes discomfort in young children, as it can generate excessive belching, increased gas, and bloating. In this regard, the organization UChicagoMedicine explains that carbonated water shouldn’t be recommended for people with acid reflux or who suffer from gas. Instead, plain water is recommended.
Carbonated water can be an alternative beverage to sugary soda for children. Therefore, it’s considered good for children, as long as it’s consumed with discretion. It’s also important to choose the simplest carbonated waters, with no additives or added sugars.
Most importantly, it should never replace plain water. This is still the drink of choice to hydrate our children. In addition, it’s advisable to drink it between meals to avoid the satiety produced by gas. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for healthy foods or drinks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that, for children from 1 to 3 years old, 2 glasses of water a day are required, those from 4 to 8 years old need 5 glasses, and, for older children, 7 to 8 glasses.
Don’t forget that these amounts include other healthy drinks for the child, such as milk, homemade fruit and vegetable juices, or almond milk. Remember not to add sugar!
Last but not least, consult your pediatrician about the amount of water that corresponds to your child’s age and physical activity to keep them hydrated, and in case of any health problems, they’ll be able to guide you in this process.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Bleich, S. N., Vercammen, K. A., Koma, J. W., & Li, Z. (2018). Trends in Beverage Consumption Among Children and Adults, 2003-2014. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 26(2), 432–441. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22056
- Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. GI Society. El agua carbonatada puede ayudar con la dispepsia y el estreñimiento. Actualizado en 2022. Disponible en: https://badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/carbonated-water-may-help-dyspepsia-and-constipation/
- Lussi, A., & Carvalho, T. S. (2015). Analyses of the Erosive Effect of Dietary Substances and Medications on Deciduous Teeth. PloS one, 10(12), e0143957. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143957
- Ryu, H. K., Kim, Y. D., Heo, S. S., & Kim, S. C. (2018). Effect of carbonated water manufactured by a soda carbonator on etched or sealed enamel. Korean journal of orthodontics, 48(1), 48–56. https://doi.org/10.4041/kjod.2018.48.1.48
- UChicagoMedicine. Is sparkling water good for you? What about hard seltzer? Actualizado el 10 de marzo de 2023. Disponible en: https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/is-carbonated-water-good-for-you
- Wang, Y. Y., Chang, R. B., & Liman, E. R. (2010). TRPA1 is a component of the nociceptive response to CO2. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 30(39), 12958–12963. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2715-10.2010