Science

Best kids water bottles of 2022


Published Jul 15, 2022 8:00 AM

Drinking water is a cornerstone to healthy living, so a reusable water bottle is an essential piece of every kid’s day bag. The tricky part is finding one that kids will actually want to use. While we can’t guarantee our picks will get them excited to drink water, per se, they’ll help reinforce positive lifelong habits as we push our kids to stay active, get plenty of rest, eat a well-balanced diet, and stay hydrated. These are the best kids water bottles we’ve found to date.

How we chose the best kids water bottles

I’ve been writing about gear and gadgets for over 10 years and, during that time, my byline has appeared on CNN Underscored, Gear Patrol, and TechnoBuffalo. At Popular Science, I’ve covered everything from the best 55-inch TVs to the best carbon monoxide detectors, so I write about a wide range of products. 

To make our selections, I researched dozens of water bottles for kids and spoke to parents I know with young kids. I also did hours of general research on water bottles and their construction. Lastly, I considered recommendations for water bottles from parenting-focused publications, such as VeryWellFamily.com, Parents.com, and BabyGearLab.com. As a new dad, I took a particular interest in this topic because I’ll eventually need a good water bottle for my child.

What to look for when picking a kid’s water bottle

Choosing the right water bottle isn’t as straightforward as you think. In 2022, they’re made from many different materials, come in different shapes and sizes, and some feature accessories like different lids and slings for easier carrying. With a water bottle for a child, you should also pay close attention to how it works and how it breaks down when you need to clean it. A kid’s water bottle should be very durable, easy to fill, easy to clean, and preferably come in a size and shape that appeals to your child.

Material

Water bottles are generally made from either thick, durable plastic or stainless steel. Occasionally, you may find water bottles made with shatter-resistant glass but they are rare and realistically too fragile for children.

Stainless steel water bottles are our preferred choice. They are very durable, and often feature vacuum insulation, which features a small air gap between two layers of metal in the bottle walls to reduce conduction to keep liquids hot or cold for several hours.

The best stainless steel water bottles we researched were all made from 18/8 stainless steel. The numbers “18/8” represent its composition—18% Chromium and 8% Nickel. It’s a food-grade material that’s resistant to corrosion and oxidation. 

Plastic water bottles are more affordable but don’t generally offer much insulation, especially in kids’ sizes. However, we like them for kids because they are light so they are easy to carry. The best plastic water bottles are made from a plastic called Tritan, which is incredibly durable and also BPA-free. BPA, or bisphenol A, is an industrial chemical that has been used to make plastics since the 1950s. Studies have shown that, when used in food or drink containers, BPA can seep into liquids, and may be harmful. Though the FDA deemed BPA safe for food-grade use in 2014, manufacturers generally avoid using it, and we recommend avoiding manufacturers that do.

Easy to use

Small children won’t drink out of a water bottle with an obtuse design. We looked for options that are intuitive and easy to understand, so kids can easily use them without an adult’s help. We also looked for bottles that are very light and compact: No kid wants to slog around a water bottle that’s big, bulky, and heavy. Finally, we considered bottles that support multiple lid types, from straw spouts to sports caps. Each kid will have their preference, so it’s nice to be able to switch things up without buying multiple bottles.

Easy to clean

Parents are busy, so the easier a water bottle is to clean, the better. Most of the water bottles we considered are rated dishwasher safe, including our stainless steel picks. This allows parents to throw their water bottles into the dishwasher and focus on other things. That said, we also looked for water bottles with comparatively few pieces and no tricky crevices to scrub, in case you wind up having to wash them by hand.

Durability

Kids aren’t delicate with their stuff. Above all else, any water bottle you buy for a child has to be able to withstand getting dropped, scuffed, scraped, thrown, sat on, rolled, and banged against tables all day, every day. Premium plastic bottles resist cosmetic dents and scratches better than stainless steel but erode quicker over the long term. That said, both kinds should last for many years if properly cleaned and cared for. And if they aren’t, many water bottles for kids offer replacement parts when something gets damaged.

Design

In addition to searching for water bottles that are easy to use and clean, we also wanted options in various sizes and colors that support a wide range of accessories. Kids can be picky, so giving them options will allow them to choose the water bottle they love. You want your kids to be excited about the bottle they’re carrying around like it’s part of their ensemble. 

Of course, we also made sure the water bottles we researched don’t have parts that could become a choking hazard.

The best kids water bottles: Reviews & Recommendations

Water bottles for kids are a dime a dozen but there’s a lot of nuance in their designs if you look closely. Once you find something that meets the proper criteria, one final thing to remember: Make sure your kid likes what you buy.

Best overall: Hydro Flask 12-ounce Kids Wide Mouth

Why it made the cut: The Hydro Flask 12 oz. Kids Wide Mouth features tough stainless steel construction and double-wall vacuum insulation to keep drinks icy cold all day long.

Specs

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 12 oz
  • Height: 6.8 inches
  • Weight: 0.6 pounds
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • BPA Free: Yes

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Double-wall insulation
  • Perforated flex boot for extra protection

Cons

Hydro Flask’s 12-ounce Kids Wide Mouth bottle is made of durable stainless steel and features double-wall vacuum insulation, so drinks stay icy cold for up to 24 hours. This is particularly great during the hot summer when dehydration is particularly dangerous.

The Hydro Flask bottle features a straw lid that’s easy for kids of all ages to use. It’s made of solid plastic that curious kids won’t be able to chew through. Like all straw lids, it can be tough to keep clean without a small brush handy, but it’s also the easiest drinking apparatus for small kids. It also features a convenient loop handle and a perforated flex boot, adding extra protection and grip when placed on a surface.

Best of all, the Hydro Flask is dishwasher safe, so you can throw it in with the rest of your dishes and get on with your day. Plus, it comes in many colors and is highly customizable with alternate lids and a name tag so your kid doesn’t lose it at school. 

The Hydro Flask is a bit pricier than our other picks but its durable construction should withstand regular bumps and bruises while keeping water cold.

Best stainless steel: Yeti Rambler Jr.

Why it made the cut: With a durable design and easy-to-use straw cap, the Rambler Jr. from Yeti is a great option for adventurous kids.

Specs

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 12 oz
  • Height: 8.4 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • BPA Free: Yes

Pros

  • Customizable
  • Durable for the outdoors
  • Vacuum insulated

Cons

  • Taller and heavier than our other picks

The Yeti Rambler Jr. is a heavy-duty kids water bottle. It comes with a leak-resistant straw cap and features a double-wall vacuum insulated design. We like straw caps because they’re easy for kids to use and give them more control over the flow of water into their mouths. The straw cap with the Rambler Jr. is also ultra-durable to withstand a few bumps and bruises on the trail. Yeti’s setup is dishwasher-safe and is available in various bright colors. For adventurous kids, the Rambler Jr. can be customized with premade graphics and text. You can also upload a custom design on Yeti’s website for a truly personalized water bottle.

Best insulated: CamelBak Eddy+ Kids 12-ounce Bottle

Why it made the cut: With a durable design and vacuum insulation, the CamelBak Eddy+ is a great option for long days away from home.

Specs

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 12 oz
  • Height: 6.8 inches
  • Weight: 0.6 pounds
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • BPA Free: Yes

Pros

  • Vacuum insulation keeps water icy cold for hours
  • Fun, playful designs
  • Soft bite valve helps prevent leaks

Cons

  • Straw can be tough to clean

Featuring a variety of adorable designs and durable stainless steel construction, the CamelBak Eddy+ 12oz bottle reimagines the company’s unique bottle design for kids. Vacuum insulation keeps water cold for several hours to keep kids hydrated during a busy day of school, a day at the playground, or little league practice. (There’s also a carry handle for easy transportation.) The bottle features a powder coat finish, giving it a grippy texture that doesn’t wash out in the dishwasher. 

The lid features Camelbak’s signature bite valve where kids bite softly on the plastic straw to make water come out. It’s intuitive and fun for kids, plus it makes the bottle spillproof and leakproof. The valve may be a slight annoyance for parents, as it’s a separate, removable piece, that takes a little extra effort to clean thoroughly. It’s definitely worth the extra effort if the valve gets your kid drinking, though.

The 12oz Eddy+ is also available in plastic if you want something lighter and more affordable.

Best leakproof: Thermos Funtainer Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Why it made the cut: The Thermos Funtainer is available in a variety of fun designs and features a simple leakproof, spillproof design.

Specs

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 12 oz
  • Height: 7 inches
  • Weight: 0.4 pounds
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • BPA Free: Yes

Pros

  • Lid covers straw from dirt and grime
  • Insulation keeps drinks cold
  • Lid handle makes it easy to carry

Cons

  • Flip-top lid might be complicated for young kids
  • Features multiple pieces

The Thermos Funtainer features a simple design and is available in various colors and graphics (including Batman). We love the Funtainer’s spillproof, leakproof design. Instead of a flip-up straw, it features a flip-top lid with a silicone straw underneath. The design helps prevent spills and leaks and keeps the straw protected from dirt and grime, making this option a more hygienic choice. 

While the design helps protect against germs and leaks, it might be more complicated for younger kids because you have to press a button to open the lid. The lid also features a handle that makes the Funtainer easy to carry and the insulated design keeps drinks cold for up to 12 hours. Like other picks on our list, this bottle is dishwasher safe, though Thermos recommends handwashing.

Best travel: Takeya Kids Insulated Water Bottle

Why it made the cut: The Takeya Kids Insulated Water Bottle can carry more liquid than our other picks, comes in a variety of fun colors, and offers a convenient loop handle for easy carrying.

Specs

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 14 oz
  • Height: 8.11 inches
  • Weight: 0.61 pounds
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • BPA Free: Yes

Pros

  • Loop handle for carrying
  • Insulation keeps drinks cold
  • Flip-up straw

Cons

  • Larger size might be heavy for younger kids

Featuring a 14 oz vessel and flip-up straw lid, Takeya’s insulated water bottle for kids is a great companion for travel. It holds slightly more water than other options on our list and its double wall vacuum insulation keeps liquids cool for up to 24 hours. Meanwhile, the lid features a loop handle for carrying or attaching to a backpack, so it’s easy to take to school, practice, and wherever else. Takeya’s kids water bottle is available in a variety of cool colors and comes with a soft-touch boot for improved durability. If you want to carry even more water, Takeya’s insulated water bottle for kids is also available in 16 oz.

Best budget: Nalgene Kids Grip-N-Gulp

Why it made the cut: Nalgene’s Grip-N-Gulp features delightful designs and a sippy cup lid, making it a great option for little kids.

Specs

  • Material: Plastic
  • Capacity: 12 oz
  • Height: 7.25 inches
  • Weight: 0.2 pounds
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • BPA Free: Yes

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fun, colorful designs
  • Lightweight

Cons

The Kids Grip-N-Gulp from Nalgene features a spill-proof sippy cup lid and is available in various colors. Each color offers a fun graphic, from sea turtles to space to a volcano. They’re quirky and fun, making the Grip-N-Gulp an excellent choice for toddlers. Nalgene claims its bottle is 100 percent leak-proof and supports different lids, including a wide-mouth loop top for older kids. The plastic design is robust, dishwasher safe, and BPA and BPS-free. This option isn’t insulated, so it won’t keep water cold for very long, but its straightforward, durable design and support for multiple lids make it an excellent budget pick.

FAQs

Q: Are glass water bottles safe for kids?

Glass is considered one of the safest materials to avoid chemical buildup but it’s hard to argue that giving a glass water bottle to a small child is a good idea. Many manufacturers make shatter-resistant glass bottles but they can still crack and break, which can get dangerous very quickly. Realistically, the very real fear of a kid smashing a glass bottle and cutting themselves outweighs the hypothetical possibility of non-toxic materials getting into their water over time.

Q: How often should kids’ water bottles be cleaned?

Kids can play hard and attract all kinds of germs and grime, so you should clean their (and yours) water bottle at least once a day. Cleaning it this often might seem like a lot of work for busy parents, but reusable water bottles can harbor bacteria that can grow if not cleaned regularly. A simple rinse with soap and warm water will do in a pinch but for a more thorough cleaning, you will need a bottle brush, straw brush, and looped detail-cleaning brush, like this kit from OXO. Using the right tools will ensure you get into all the nooks and crannies and clean off any buildup.

Q: How big should a kids’ water bottle be?

A kids’ water bottle should be a comfortable size for them to carry all day. Most reusable water bottles for kids are 12 ounces. It’s a good size for kids to hold on their own, even at full capacity. Some companies offer 20 oz. options for older children but at that size you may be better off buying a standard water bottle for adults. These sizes should be manageable at full capacity and shouldn’t become burdensome over extended periods.

Q: Can you put other drinks in a kid’s water bottle?

Most manufacturers advise against putting liquids other than water in a kids’ water bottle. Hydro Flask, for example, says not to put carbonated or pulpy beverages in its stainless steel water bottles because the acidity of certain sodas and juices can erode the inner wall over extended periods. The same rules apply to plastic water bottles. None of our picks is 100% leakproof, so we strongly advise against hot liquids in your kid’s water bottles to avoid accidents.

Final thoughts on the best kids water bottles

Between school, sports, and other extracurricular activities, kids these days are busier than ever. They have enough to worry about, but drinking water shouldn’t be one of them. As you send them off to tackle their day, equipping them with a reusable water bottle is an excellent way to ensure they stay hydrated.



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