Budget-Friendly Bottles: Contigo 2001147 Autoseal Trekker Kids Water Bottle

Let’s talk about kids water bottles!

After raising two kids ourselves and interviewing hundreds of our parent readers, here are some truths no one tells you about kids water bottles.

  1. Most are NOT leak-proof. These are not sippy cups designed to keep liquid from spilling! If your child puts a water bottle upside down in a backpack, don’t expect it to be dry in there! Also: kids sometimes don’t screw on the lid or close the top correctly —and that causes leaks too! (Good news: there is one leak-proof bottle we will recommend in this article).
  2. Water bottles are for WATER! We’ve warned you—if you put any other beverage other than water, you could have a nasty bacteria/mold problem in short order. That’s because some kids water bottles have all sorts of nooks and crannies that can be hard to clean . . .  especially if you put juice in there!
  3. Some younger kiddos may find water bottles frustrating. Example: the CamelBak water bottle we recommend in this article has a bite valve . . . you bite down on the valve to release the water. That can be challenging for some younger kids!
  4. Most kids water bottles are NOT insulated. They don’t keep water cold.

 

Ok, now that we’ve got the caveats out of the weigh, let’s talk about the best kids water bottles out there today.

We surveyed the readers of our parenting books (2.1 million in print!) to find parent favorites. Then we had actual kids try out these top recommendations. Here are the bottles that made the cut.

For best budget-friendly kids water bottle, we like this 2-pack of Contigo bottles best. Contigo is to kids water bottles what Apple is to smartphones—they are the go-to brand for most folks!

Here’s why this 2-pack is a winner:

What We Liked

• Works one-handed. That’s a big reason why our kid testers liked this bottle.

• 14 ounce size is just right—not too big or small.

• No straw or spout to clean. Kids press a button and drink from a valve—easy, once they get the hang of it!

• No straw to lose—that’s a big problem with other water bottles!

• BPA free.

• Dishwasher safe (top rack).

What Needs Work

• Younger kiddos find it hard to push in the lock to drink. Yes, these bottles are rated for ages 3 and up, but some of the youngest kids may find the push-button a challenge.

• Lid can be hard to clean. The inside of the lid has places that can be challenging to clean—there are little crevices in there where dirt (and then mold) can hide. Hint: this is why we only recommend water (not juice or soda) for these bottles!

• Contigo’s “autoseal technology” isn’t perfect—yes, these bottles can still leak if the lid isn’t secured tightly.

Best Spill-Proof Bottle: CamelBak Eddy Kids BPA Free Water Bottle

Spill-proof is the Holy Grail for kids water bottles—and sadly, many kids water bottles that tout leak-free lids fall short in reality. Good news: this bottle actually passed our leak tests: CamelBak’s Eddy Kids BPA Free Water Bottle.

Yes, it actually is spill proof, thanks to a unique valve on the lid—kids bite down on the spout and voila! Water comes out.

What We Liked

 Dishwasher safe.

• 12 ounce size good for most kids.

• Yes, it is leak proof.

• 30+ colors and designs.

• BPA Free.

What Needs Work

• A challenge to clean. Yes, you have to use a Q-tip or special brush from CamelBak to clean out the valve—if you don’t, mold can grow in there.

• Pricey.

• Must correctly screw on lid to avoid leaks,

• Kids can chew off the valve.

• Biting/sucking can be a challenge for younger kiddos. This bottle is rated for kids 3+, but some of those three-year-olds may find this bottle frustrating!

Easiest to Clean Bottle: Rubbermaid Leak-Proof Sip Kids Water Bottle

It’s rather obvious that some folks who design water bottles don’t have kids—some of these bottles can be darn hard to clean. Cracks, crevices and valves . . . each can be a nightmare to keep clean!

For the easiest to clean kids water bottle, we pick Rubbermaid’s Leak-Proof Sip Kids Water Bottle.

What We Liked

• No crevices, valves or straws to collect dirt!

• Includes reuseable blue ice stick that can be frozen to keep liquids cold.

• Leak-proof lid is actually leak proof based our tests (with the one caveat noted below).

• BPA free.

• Easy to carry (thanks to carry handle).

• Affordable.

• Dishwasher safe (top rack only).

What Needs Work

• Lid can leak if it is not completely shut!

• Bottle itself isn’t insulated, so water doesn’t stay cold long (even if you use the blue ice stick). It’s better than nothing, but not as good as our insulated bottle pick above. In our tests, water only stayed cold for about an hour. Good for soccer practice, but not all day activities.

Best Insulated Bottle: Snug Flask for Kids

Most kids water bottles have a big flaw: they don’t keep water cold. And if you live in a hot climate, that can matter!

For the best insulated bottle, we think Snug Flask is the best bet. It passed our kid tests with flying colors—easy to use and keeps liquids hot or cold for several hours.

What We Liked

• Push-button lid.

• Stainless steel and plastic.

• BPA free.

• Straw works well.

What Needs Work

• Not leak proof. Younger kids sometimes forget to close the lid completely—and that leads to leaks!

• Could be more durable. Sadly, this bottle can break if dropped.

• Hand wash only. Yet we found it easy enough to clean.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!