Kids love carbonated beverages, and hey, whatever it takes to get their water in, right? Here’s what experts have to say about kids and seltzer.
Being a parent means asking yourself at least a thousand questions every day. Is my kid eating enough veggies? Did they brush their teeth last night? Am I doing everything I can for them? The onslaught of worry and second-guessing never ends. This can be especially true when it comes to what you allow your child to consume — including the topic of carbonated beverages. With so many sparkling water options out there, many parents may find themselves questioning whether or not it’s OK for kids to drink seltzer water or other carbonated water products. After all, soda is carbonated and isn’t exactly healthy for you (or your teeth, for that matter), so where does carbonated water fall on that spectrum?
Fortunately, stuff like seltzer water doesn’t contain the high amounts of sugar and caffeine commonly found in soda beverages. Yet like with so many things regarding your kids, it’s important to set limits on how much they have. Because while seltzers may be the healthier option among many other drinks available in stores these days, that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some restrictions on portion control.
Can my kid have seltzers?
An associate professor at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Brittany Seymour, spoke with The New York Times on the matter in September 2021 and claimed that carbonated water is fine for kids — to an extent. “I would say, in general, it’s fine,” Dr. Seymour told the outlet before adding one small caveat: “I wouldn’t do it every day with my daughter.” Why? Seltzers don’t contain the fluoride found in regular tap water, which can benefit your teeth since fluoride helps to ward off cavities and tooth decay.
How much is too much?
It’s worth noting that the American Dental Association claims carbonated water hasn’t proven to be damaging to teeth in any significant way, so technically, there’s no recommended limit on how much you or your child should consume. But again, since sparkling water doesn’t contain fluoride, regular tap water will always be the best option for both children and adults. That doesn’t mean kids should never have it, but it might be good for it to be in moderation and have it presented as a treat rather than a regular part of their day.
What are some potential side effects?
It’s important to consider that anything involving carbonation (yes, that includes carbonated waters) could end up causing your child to develop some additional — and unwanted — gas. “For children, it can cause gas,” New York City-based dietitian Anita Mirchandani, RD, told ScaryMommy’s sister site, Romper, during an interview. “The nature of why it was introduced is for digestion, and it’s an alternative to drinking water. People find drinking water boring, so this is a way somebody could get alternative hydration into their system — but it is carbonated, so [it contains] gas.”
Mirchandani went on to note that a child’s kidneys could also be impacted by having seltzers too frequently. “Typically, with carbonated beverage consumption, sparkling water is carbonated and it does contain sodium, so it could be a little heavy for a child’s kidneys,” she revealed.
Bottom line: Seltzers are fine for kids, so long as you take on the “less is more” approach. Then you and your little one can enjoy those fun watery bubbles with no worries. But while it’s understandable to want to mix things up for your child and give them more variety when it comes to beverages, nothing — not even a carbonated version of it — is ever going to beat plain old water. It’s always, always, always going to be the healthiest option.