Need a kids' water bottle? To determine the best 13 products available today, we dove into the world of water bottles for kids, researched the market, then purchased more than 30 promising contenders for testing and side-by-side comparisons. Keeping your child hydrated while on the go is essential, and a water bottle will significantly help with this effort. With various bottle types available, some being more convenient and healthier than others, our testing focused on factors like kid-friendly usability, ease of cleaning, and eco-health. We are confident that a water bottle in our lineup will meet your needs and budget. So, take advantage of the insider details to make an informed decision.
At first glance, the YETI Rambler Jr. appears similar to other contenders, but this option jumped to the top with minor differences that give it an edge. YETI is known for its high quality and durability, and this contender is downright durable. Considering that kids frequently drop items (perhaps hundreds of times a day!), we think this factor matters. With powder-coated contenders or those with thinner material, falls onto hard surfaces can cause paint chips, scratches, dents, or even damage. Although nothing is bullet-proof, we think YETI's solid stainless steel base is noticeably strong among the lineup and most likely to survive falls and look fine. We appreciate that this insulated option helps keep contents cold, so your child can enjoy a refreshing drink during the school day or while adventuring outside. The carry handle is more significant than others, making it easier to carry. We also appreciate that the vessel's mouth is slightly wider to ease the task of handwashing and inspection.
The flip and sip hard spout is a little stiff to open and close, hindering younger users' ability to use this bottle independently. But, older children will likely not find this to be an issue. The manufacturer says the vessel is dishwasher-safe; however, we suggest handwashing it to prolong the YETI's insulation quality. Also, you will need a small straw brush to clean the lid thoroughly. Overall, we think this product will last years, and if it meets your needs, we highly recommend it.
The Thermos FUNtainer is a double-walled stainless steel insulated water bottle that combines a sleek design and convenience. The insulation does an excellent job of keeping drinks cold for up to 12 hours (not for hot liquids), and the slender design is just right for little hands and nearly all cup holders. The lid button is user-friendly for straw access, and it closes easily without much pressure. The bottle uses quality materials and feels durable enough to last for several years.
The FUNtainer's lid has multiple parts, and you'll need to use a straw brush to clean them thoroughly. The task can be slightly time-consuming, but it isn't hard, and we appreciate a couple of features that make it easier, such as fewer nooks and crannies inside the lid and a clear straw so you can make sure it is free of grime. Even though we like the quality of the container itself, the straw can wear out over time, especially if your little one has a habit of chewing. Fortunately, replacement straws are available. Also, while it does an excellent job preventing leaks with a closed lid, water can leak through the straw with the top open, so if the button is pushed accidentally while in a bag, you could end up with a wet mess and no one has time to deal with that. But, given its quality construction and ease of use with various optional kid-friendly graphics, this bottle is a popular budget-friendly choice.
The CamelBak Chute Mag is a vacuum-insulated stainless steel water bottle available in various fun, bright colors. The twist-on lid is excellent for preventing leaks, and it recently experienced some upgrades with improvements to the threads for leak prevention. This water bottle also showcases an innovative feature that others in the competition do not have. A magnetic lid connects to the bottle keeping it from flopping in your face while drinking; a practical design choice we appreciate. The kid version of this bottle is 12 ounces, but if your little one's thirst demands a large swig, bigger sizes are available.
The lid for the Mag is dishwasher safe, but the bottle should be hand-washed, and due to its shape and size, a top-ranked baby bottle brush is the best way to ensure it is thoroughly clean. While handwashing isn't a deal-breaker, and we suggest hand cleaning for all bottles, it can be a bothersome step for some parents who are crunched for time and appreciate a quicker fix. This bottle is one of the more expensive options we tested, making it a poor choice for parents on a budget. However, it should last for years, and the cost is more reasonable when you consider the potential longevity of use. We were delighted with this water bottle's overall performance regarding this innovative lid design leak prevention.
Available in multiple bright colors and various sizes, the Lifefactory with Active Flip Cap is a glass bottle with a medical-grade silicone sleeve that adds a layer of protection to the bottle and helps prevent breakage from accidental drops. The silicone sleeve provides a grip-able surface for young users. Glass containers are inert, so there are no worries about leaching chemicals or imparting flavor to the bottle's contents. It is also super easy to clean with the best bottle brush or dishwasher.
A few complaints about the Lifefactory have been primarily related to lid issues. Over time, the lid struggles to stay closed, and the cap can be easily nudged open in a bag resulting in leakage. Also, this water bottle is one of the heftiest in the group. Some younger users could find it challenging to carry or lug in a backpack. But, if you are looking for an eco-friendly inert bottle, then the glass Lifefactory is a quality option.
Why You Should Trust Us
Finding the perfect kids' water bottle took over 80 hours of research and testing. We used three key metrics in our evaluation during our extensive hands-on testing and side-by-side comparison. Our review team assessed each product for weight, durability, ease of use, cleaning, etc. Besides hands-on testing, we performed side-by-side comparisons to find the best performer. Our tot testers used each bottle over time and weighed in on their favorite options and which just didn't make the kid-friendly cut.
Leading our roundup is founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a board-certified pediatrician, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and a mother of two. This Mom-in-Chief uses her background, education, and experience to guide product selection and develop BabyGearLab's safety and testing standards. Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz, plays a significant role in our water bottle review. Wendy is a mother of two and holds a degree in biology with a concentration in chemistry. Her education provides a unique perspective on water bottle materials and potential concerns over plastics and associated endocrine disrupters. Wendy has been involved in our sippy cup and water bottle testing since our first water bottle review in 2014, contributing to the beginning stages of our testing development and review process. Since the beginning, Wendy has researched and reported on numerous cups and water bottles. She regularly performs background research on plastic use in products, particularly those containing food and liquid for human consumption. It is safe to say Wendy's education, background, and Mom time influence product selection for testing with ease of use and eco-health in mind. Also contributing to our review is Senior Review Editor, Molly Bradac. Molly's 15-year career as a professional Nanny brings invaluable perspective. Over the years, she has extensively traveled and managed day-to-day life with the children under her care. Without a doubt, Molly is well-accustomed to the world of water bottles and can easily identify options that will make your life easier and earn a spot in your kitchen. So, whether you need the perfect water bottle for your child's school day or a travel-friendly product that's ready to roll, Molly is a "go-to" guru that can help lead the way.
Analysis and Test Results
Our analysis began with extensive research of over 60 kids' water bottles, and we narrowed down the selection to the top contenders for our review. They include ease of use, level of difficulty cleaning the product, and eco-health. We been testing kids' water bottles since 2014 and use our extensive knowledge to choose the best, most kid-liked options.
The Thermos FUNtainer not only ranks high overall, but it is affordable and kid-friendly. This option will likely last years, and it is much easier to clean than some other contenders. However, suppose you're able to stretch your budget slightly more. The YETI Rambler Jr. appears very similar to the Hydro Flask Kids Wide Mouth. It has a few characteristics that make it more user-friendly and has outstanding durability, increasing its chances of being used by multiple children. These features make it well worth the investment. We believe there can be value in a product that is well-made and lasts for years, as opposed to a product that doesn't last more than a season.
Ease of Use
The water bottle you decide to purchase should be easy to use. While some younger testers preferred bottles in their favorite colors, the products that were easy to drink from eventually won their hearts. Those challenging to operate will likely be wasteful purchases and take up space in your kitchen cupboard. Factors that we consider to influence usability include a bottle's weight, durability, and a lid's level of difficulty to operate. Also impacting our ranks is insulation. Those that offer this feature scored higher than those that do not.
Our highest-scoring contender in this metric is the YETI Rambler Jr.. What helped it reach a top score is a combination of user-friendly features, such as double-wall vacuum insulation, a more oversized carry handle that makes it easier to hold, and outstanding durability. Typically, a bottle's base is the landing zone for most fall incidences, and the YETI's base feels solid. Although no product is bullet-proof, we think this contender has the greatest chance of enduring falls onto hard surfaces yet still walk away looking fine. In contrast, powder-coated contenders may experience chipped paint or scratches.
The Simple Modern Summit did not score well in our sub-metric durability. We noticed chipped paint on the vessel while hand washing, which disappointed us since we hadn't used it yet. This issue alone significantly lowered its score.
Our lowest-scoring product is the Contigo AUTOSEAL Trekker, due to its material, lack of insulation, and its spout system that requires a child to push a button on the lid's back to open and release the liquid to drink. Although this design means no accidents or spills from a top that isn't screwed back on or leaking from a straw, it can pose a challenge for younger kids or those with smaller or weaker hands. The Klean Kanteen Classic also scores low in this metric due to a stiff hard-to-use lid that made us question if it was open and closed.
Weight is a factor to consider, and it is often related to a bottle's material and whether or not it offers insulation. We suggest determining how you plan to use your kid's water bottle, and your child's abilities will change how much "weight" you place on the importance of a bottle's total weight. Some questions to ask yourself: Is the water bottle going to school in a backpack already full of heavy books? Or will it mainly serve as a spill-proof solution around the house? Is it primarily for sports practice?
The glass Lifefactory with Active Flip Cap and stainless steel YETI Rambler Jr. are two of the heftiest options in our lineup and more troublesome to carry when full of water, which could potentially increase their chance of getting dropped. But, to justify the weight, the YETI provides insulation, whereas the Lifefactory doesn't, which may be a deal-breaker for those who don't mind the extra weight in exchange for insulation.
Lightweight contenders tend to have plastic construction, such as Contigo AUTOSEAL Trekker and Pogo Plastic Water Bottle. We are not big fans of plastic due to eco-health reasons, but we realize that plastic is lightweight and can come in handy when weight matters. But, if you don't want to compromise on material, the Klean Kanteen Classic is worth considering. This single-wall product is lighter, but it isn't insulated, so it won't keep contents cold and can "sweat."
We recommend that you take damaged bottles away from children and dispose of them properly as a precaution against lead exposure and other hazards. While we make every effort to choose durable products, all bottles can become damaged through regular use. Parents should inspect all water bottle components for wear and tear, chewed parts, chipped paint, and other signs of damage during each cleaning. Some items, such as straws and mouthpieces, might be replaceable depending on the manufacturer, so you may want to check before recycling them.
Ease of Cleaning
The level of convenience of cleaning your kid's water bottle is a big deal. If it is time-consuming or requires too many specialized tools, you will not use it as often, or you might feel tempted to skip washing altogether. Therefore, we assessed the overall cleaning task, keeping notes of any hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that cause worry of mold growth and if products are easy to assemble and disassemble.
The truth is each contender requires some level of effort to clean. Still, the highest-ranking product in this metric is the Lifefactory with Active Flip Cap, as it has a dishwasher-safe glass vessel and lid with minimal nooks and crannies, making inspecting and handwashing cleaning easier.
Besides Lifefactory's glass vessel, we recommend handwashing most contenders, such as stainless steel containers with groovy paint or graphics, like the CamelBak eddy+ Stainless, to prevent peeling, plus plastic parts, which we believe minimizes potential plastic degradation and lessens the possibility of chemicals leaching into contents.
We also encourage you to hand wash insulated containers as they have a double-walled structure that could trap water, making the insulation ineffective and increasing the opportunity for microbial growth.
Some low-scoring options in this metric include the Contigo AUTOSEAL Trekker and Pogo Plastic Water Bottle. The Contigo's lid has openings that you can't easily access or inspect, and no finger gymnastics will do the trick to clean it thoroughly. The Pogo has a silicone mouthpiece that is incredibly difficult to replace inside its lid, costing us frustration and time. This issue alone made us want to walk away and leave this product to collect dust in our kitchen cabinet.
We believe materials matter, especially as your child will frequently use this product. Therefore, we evaluated the material makeup of each contender, paying particular attention to the vessel and mouthpiece.
In general, we are not fans of plastic. We consider it less desirable than stainless steel or glass, given the potential of this material to leach chemicals into its contents. Also, given a choice, we prefer silicone over plastic, as silicone is generally considered a healthier material option. Therefore, we took all of this into consideration when evaluating our lineup.
We gave credit to stainless steel construction and bonus points to those with silicone mouthpieces. Some high-scoring products that meet this profile include the CamelBak eddy+ Stainless and the Thermos FUNtainer. The YETI Rambler Jr., Klean Kanteen Classic, and Hydro Flask Kids Wide Mouth also ranked above average in this metric but didn't score higher due to plastic mouthpieces. We prefer to steer clear of plastic whenever possible.
Unfortunately, our lowest-scoring product is the Simple Modern Summit due to exterior paint chips. Although we believe the paint chips will unlikely come into contact with the water bottle's contents, we worry there's a chance that a kid holding the bottle and eating food could potentially consume paint chips. For this reason, we wouldn't recommend giving a product with chipping paint to a child. With any damaged product, it is crucial to remove it from use.
We know that some parents have discovered lead in several stainless steel water bottles after performing tests on the bottles with at-home test kits. You should know that these results do not representall stainless steel bottles, as steel does not contain lead. The problem appears to stem from a small solder spot on the bottom of some bottles that can become exposed due to the destruction of the bottle's parts (loose bottoms, chipping paint). While manufacturers paint or cap the bottles' bottom to prevent this spot from being accessible, children can potentially be exposed to lead if the base is displaced or the paint chips. As a result of these concerns, we tested all contenders in our review for lead. None of the exposed parts of the bottles tested positive for lead, and we did not remove the bottom caps or paint to test underneath.
Since injuries related to leak-proof cups and bottles can occur, here are some best practices according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the ADA:
To avoid potential issues with decay and dentition formation, limit water bottles for outings only
Parents should always provide a real cup when it is convenient
You may be overwhelmed by all of the kids' water bottle options on the market. Finding one that meets your needs, especially if you don't know what your needs are, can be downright challenging. Thankfully, we've done the hard work for you as we've sipped our way through the details and completed hands-on testing of the top contenders to find the best. Our extensive review can streamline your decision-making process, so you can return to more important matters, like family time, coordinating activities, or finding the best convertible car seat. Plus, our lineup has kid-approved water bottles that can match your needs and lifestyle.