The Best Kids Water Bottle Review

In today's busy world, with kids participating in more activities away from home than ever, it is important that they have access to hydration at all times. Carrying a personal water bottle can mean the difference between quenching a mean thirst or fighting fatigue. We reviewed 11 of the most popular water bottles for children over the age of 3 to find which performed better than the rest and won approval from persnickety children on the go. The bottles were tested for their ease of use, tendency to leak, eco-health attributes, and more. While most of the bottles got the job done, only a few did it well, and only one soared above the rest with an overall score 13 points higher than the closest competitor.

Read the full review below >

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 11 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product
Contigo AUTOSEAL Kids Scout is insulated stainless steel
Contigo AUTOSEAL Kids Scout
Thermos Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle
bubba Hero Sport
bubba Hero Sport
Kid Basix Safe Sporter
Kid Basix Safe Sporter
Klean Kanteen Kid Kanteen w/ 3.0 Sports Cap
Klean Kanteen Kid Sports Bottle
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award       
Price $19.00 List$18.00 List
$8.99 at Amazon - 50% off
$18.00 List
$12.39 at Amazon - 31% off
$16.00 List
$15.99 at Amazon
$18.00 List
$15.35 at Amazon - 15% off
Overall Score 
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92
100
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77
100
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74
100
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74
100
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73
Star Rating
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Pros Stainless steel, insulated, leak-proofSoft spout, stainless steel, insulated, lid, leak-proof, interchangable topsEasy to use, stainless steel, insulatedStainless steel, silicone grip sleeve, attached lid, easy to drink from and cleanStainless steel, fits in cup holders, lightweight, easy to drink from
Cons Heavier, push button hard to use for younger childrenSmaller, requires straw brush to clean, bottom could come off over timeHeavy, wide, sometimes the straw falls offLeaked on its side, heavyNot insulated, must touch spout to use, leaks on side
Ratings by Category AUTOSEAL Kids Scout Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle Hero Sport Safe Sporter Kid Sports Bottle
Leakage - 35%
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
7
Ease of Use - 25%
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
Ease of Cleaning - 20%
10
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9
10
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3
10
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5
10
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7
10
0
8
Eco-Health - 20%
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8
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6
Specs AUTOSEAL Kids Scout Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle Hero Sport Safe Sporter Kid Sports Bottle
Manufacturer Age Recommendation 4+ years 18 mo+ (emailed Bubba) 4+ years Kids who are ready to progress from Sippy Cap
Available Capacities (ounces) 12 oz 10 oz 12 oz 16 oz 12 oz
Empty Weight (ounces) 10.3 oz 7.1 oz 8.6 oz 6.5 oz 5.2 oz

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

Last Updated:
Tuesday
November 11, 2014

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Best Overall Water Bottle


Contigo AUTOSEAL Kids Scout


Contigo AUTOSEAL Kids Scout is insulated stainless steel Editors' Choice Award

$19.00
List Price
See It

The Contigo AUTOSEAL won our Editors' Choice Award for kid's water bottles. Not only did this bottle score the highest overall in our test, but its closest competitor was 13 points away. This bottle earned impressive scores across the board in all metrics of testing, proving that no one metric had to be sacrificed to get great scores in the other areas. The Contigo is easy to drink from, with an open mouthpiece that allows for free flow of liquid contents controlled by the user. The bottle is contoured and narrow enough for little hands to easily hold and it has a bottom that fits in most cup holders. It has a unique leak proof design that auto seals when not in use and opens with the push of a button. It scored a 10 of 10 for leaks and was the only bottle in our review to do so. It is made of eco-healthy stainless steel, does not have a plastic straw, and is insulated for hours of cool refreshments. There are only 2 parts to assemble and clean, and it only requires a bottle brush to ensure proper cleaning.
Editors' Choice: The 12 ounce stainless steel Contigo Kid's AUTOSEAL is insulated to keep drinks cold up to 5 hours. Its unique push button drinking feature self seals when not in use making it truly leak-free. With only two parts  disassembling  cleaning  and putting back together are a cinch.
Editors' Choice: The 12 ounce stainless steel Contigo Kid's AUTOSEAL is insulated to keep drinks cold up to 5 hours. Its unique push button drinking feature self seals when not in use making it truly leak-free. With only two parts, disassembling, cleaning, and putting back together are a cinch.
This bottle scored a 92 of 100 in our review, with only one test category coming in lower than a 9. It is probably a good idea to keep in mind that younger kids might struggle with the push button on this bottle, but with time and practice testers older than 4 years of age were able to master the skill and enjoy the bottle.

Read review: Contigo AUTOSEAL

Top Pick for Preschoolers


Thermos Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle


Top Pick Award

$8.99
(50% off)
at Amazon
See It

The Foogo has a soft straw spout and closeable lid
The Foogo has a soft straw spout and closeable lid
The Thermos Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle came in second place in our review earning points for being stainless steel, insulated, and easy to use. This bottle has a nice attached lid, is contoured for easy holding, and smaller in size to fit in a lunch bag or preschool backpack. This bottle earned a great score for eco-health and does not require little ones to touch the mouthpiece in order to use it. The only metric this bottle struggled in was the ease of cleaning, but in its defense this is in comparison with the other bottles that had far fewer parts. Overall, it is not a difficult bottle to clean, but it does require a straw brush. This bottle is a kid favorite that is also loved by parents. It won our Top Pick for Preschoolers because it is much easier for children 3 and under to use than the Contigo both for holding and ease of drinking; plus it is smaller to fit in lunch boxes, and holds less fluid.

Read review: Thermos Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle

Best for Specific Applications


This bottle holds more liquid than the others in this review. This can be good for longer adventures
This bottle holds more liquid than the others in this review. This can be good for longer adventures
Not all bottles could win awards, but that doesn't mean that some weren't bottles we sort of liked and felt should be recognized.

Larger Volume for Longer Adventures


The Kid Basix Safe Sporter is stainless steel bottle that we really liked. It is easy to use and holds more liquid than any other bottle in our review. This bottle came in 4th place out of 11 in our review, and its only real downside is its heavier weight. What makes this a standout product, besides being easy to drink from, easy to clean, and eco-healthy, is it can hold up to 16 ounces of liquid all for a comparatively cheap price. The larger size of this bottle means kids have more water for hydration for greater adventures or longer trips from home. Though technically not insulated, the nice grip-able silicone sleeve offers some insulation, and there is an attached lid for keeping the spout clean when not in use.

Read review: Kid Basix Safe Sporter




Analysis and Test Results


Kids Water Bottle Review Contenders (Klean Kanteen Kid Sports Bottle not shown)
Kids Water Bottle Review Contenders (Klean Kanteen Kid Sports Bottle not shown)
It seems like things should get easier when kids get older. The number of products and the differences between them do seem to decrease as little ones grow up, and kid's water bottles are no different. The category of bottles is narrower and has less variety than the toddler sippy cups or transitional options. However, the decision of which bottle to buy is still something that can have you scratching your head wondering what the heck is the difference between these seemingly similar bottles, and which features matter? Doing a little homework to determine the performance of each bottle can leave you and your child happier than just guessing or choosing a bottle based on it's graphics.

Leak-free kid's bottles are for children ages 3 years and up. Kids in this age range are busy, active, and seem to have no off button. By 3 years old kids can drink from ordinary cups, and they are mastering new skills every day. With so many activities to attend and new adventures in school and friend's houses, having an easy to transport water bottle can make life much easier and children far happier than looking for a water fountain or trying to find a place to set down a regular cup. Being able to transport a bottle from here to there without spills can make life easier wherever your child's adventures may lead.

Types of Kid's Bottles


There is definitely less variety in kid's water bottles than some of the other stages of leak-proof cups. These bottles had far more in common than their sippy counterparts. Most of the bottles are at least 12 ounces, have a loop for attaching to backpacks, lids for keeping off the dirt, and many were insulated to keep contents cool and viable for longer periods of time. These bottles are also taller and relatively narrow so they fit better in cup holders and in little hands.

Leak-Free Cups and Bottles


This photo shows a variety of transition sippy cups; note that Pura Kiki (pink sippy on right) is pictured here with silicone nipple. For transitioning  either a softer Pura Original Spout or firmer blue XL Sipper Spout can is substituted.
A variety of Toddler Sippy Cups
Kids Water Bottle Review Contenders (Klean Kanteen Kid Sports Bottle not shown)
 
The photos above show a plastic bottle and two of the stainless steel options used in this review.
The photos above show some different leak-free cups; the Transition cup for 4-9 months (left), Toddler for 9 months - 3 years (middle), and Kid's Water Bottles for ages 3 and up (right).

Leak-proof cups and bottles are divided by age ranges that normally compliment developmental stages and children's capabilities. Following the suggested age range can help you find right product for your child.

Transition Cups
Tommee Tippee is a good example of a transition sippy; smaller volume size  softer spout  dual handles  and debris cap. This brand has a transition sippy lid which is interchangeable their Closer to Nature bottle  Best Value award in our Best Baby Bottle Review.

Transition cups typically have soft spouts for sensitive gums, dual handles, and are smaller than the other options.

Toddler Cups
Good example of a toddler sippy; larger volume  no handles  grip silicone sleeve  and harder spout.

Toddler cups usually feature soft and hard spouts, or straws. These cups are normally contoured, lack handles, and hold more liquid than the transition stage.

Kid Bottles
Typical kid water bottle; larger volume  straw spout  and clip loop.

Kid water bottles are usually designed with kids age 3 to 6 years in mind. They normally hold over 12 ounces of liquid, are insulated, have lids, and are easy to transport. Some are leak proof, but not all have this feature without using their lids.

Bottle Materials


This bottle is made with BPA free plastic
This bottle holds more liquid than the others in this review. This can be good for longer adventures
The Bubba is insulated stainless steel
 
Most Kid's water bottles are made of plastic or stainless steel. Older kids using water bottles on the go are not the best candidates for using glass bottles. Each kind of material can have benefits and drawbacks depending on what you are looking for and what is most important to you. We think parents should consider the attributes of each kind of material before making a buying decision.

Plastic


This is a budget friendly copolyester plastic bottle
Plastic is usually budget friendly, lightweight, often see-thru, and easy to find in stores. It doesn't dent like stainless steel, break like glass, and it usually doesn't hurt when you drop it on your foot. Many kid's water bottles are made of BPA-Free plastic because plastic is cheaper than stainless steel and lighter for small children to hold. All of the bottles in our review were made with at least some plastic, and two had bodies made of plastic. Unfortunately, some studies indicate that plastics can still potentially leach chemicals into their contents in a way that is similar to the BPA products of yore, and it is difficult, if not impossible for the average consumer to determine which plastics may do this and which don't.

You may want to check out our related article, Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?

Stainless Steel


The Crocodile comes with an attached lid
Stainless Steel is a great inert material that neither leaches chemicals nor imparts flavor into the contents of the bottle. It is recyclable, durable, and easy to clean. It is dishwasher safe (if not painted), and often comes in an insulated option. Stainless steel is significantly heavier than plastic, and even more so if it is insulated, but this is likely less of a concern for children over the age of 3 than it is for younger toddlers. Steel is usually more expensive than plastic, but it can theoretically last longer than plastic, which still makes it a viable option even on a budget. Most of the bottles in our review are made of stainless steel.

Glass


The EIO cup was one of two cups we tested made of glass
Glass is also an inert material that doesn't leach chemicals or impart flavor to its contents. However, given that glass is breakable, it is just not the best option for kids on the go who might not be very careful. Even bottles that come with a silicone sleeve can and will eventually break, and the last place you want that to happen is in a backpack or on the soccer field. None of the bottles in our review were made from glass for this reason.

Silicone


Kid Basix Safe Sporter holds a whopping 16oz and was a favorite among parents as it is easy to clean and assemble/disassemble. However  it is not insulated and fairly heavy when filled to the brim.
Silicone is a pliable material which is considered safer than plastic, and is used in many valves and straw spouts in the kid's water bottles. Some studies indicate that heating silicone can lead to degradation of the components so we recommend washing these parts by hand to avoid excessive heat.

Mouthpieces


Both Eco Vessel Frost and Scout models have a silicone-lined hard spout and interior straw which is being phased from polyethylene plastic to silicone.
Both Eco Vessel Frost and Scout models have a silicone-lined hard spout and interior straw which is being phased from polyethylene plastic to silicone.
Most of the kid's water bottles had straw and sport type spouts similar to adult bottles. The straw type spouts were both hard and soft depending on the bottle, one bottle had a cup like edge, and the sport spouts were all hard.

Hard Spouts
Hard sport type spouts on the Klean Kanteen
Hard straw mouthpieces are easy to use, usually fold or push in to close and sometimes required grubby hands on in order to operate. The harder spouts do come with an increased potential for injury. In addition, the Eco Vessel bottles had soft covers on their hard spouts that were easily damaged and become possible choking hazards for children who like to chew.

Straws
Soft straw spouts are similar to regular straws and are
This straw spout is made of silicone and is easy to drink from
probably an option your dentist would like, since the ADA thinks they can increase oral hygiene. The soft straw spouts were well liked by users, and are generally easy to drink from. Those in our review came with closeable lids to protect the spout from dirt and debris.

Cup Edge
The cup edge of the Contigo auto seals when the button is not depressed
The cup edge of the Contigo auto seals when the button is not depressed
One bottle in our review has a cup like edge. The Contigo AutoSeal has a cup like edge with an autoseal opening that allows liquid to come out when the button is pushed to open the lid. This lets kids control their own flow rate and it helps avoid possible injury that can occur as a result of a hard spout that sticks straight up.

Safety First


Children should be stationary when using bottles
Children should be stationary when using bottles
Parents should be aware that running while drinking from any water bottle could potentially lead to injury. Some bottles might have more potential than others, but no matter what it is recommended that children stand or sit still when using the bottles. Bottles should never be used in motion. Always follow the bottle directions and consider the ADA guidelines (shown below).

ADA and AAP Best Practice Guidelines


The following are best practices for leak-proof cup and bottle use, as advised by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). These have been modified somewhat from the sippy cup guidelines for older kids and water bottle use:
  • Kids should only use bottles when stationary
  • To avoid Early Childhood Dental Decay bottles should ideally be used for , water only
  • Parents should offer children real cups as often as possible

Criteria for Evaluation


We considered several performance features and attributes when testing and evaluating each kid's water bottle. We looked at ease of use, leakage, ease of cleaning, and eco-health. Each category was then broken up into smaller sub-metrics for more in-depth testing and detailed information gathering.

Leakage


If a bottle is going on a journey it needs to be leak free. If kids are taking
This bottle didn't leak upside down  but did have a significant leak when placed on its side
This bottle didn't leak upside down, but did have a significant leak when placed on its side
their water bottles to school or adventures they will need a bottle that doesn't leak on their clothes or their supplies. Whether children have the bottle in their backpacks or on their person, it just won't do to have the contents spilling out; even water can do damage to projects sharing a backpack. This is why the category of leakage is the one we consider to be the most important in our testing of the bottles.

Four bottles out of the 11 in our review scored 10 of 10 in the collective leakage score. But only the Contigo AutoSeal scored a perfect 10 by receiving 10s in both the sideways and upside down tests. Most of the bottles scored above a 7 with only the Crocodile Creek Drinking Bottle and Eco Vessel Frost scoring lower with a 4 and 1 respectfully. The Frost leaked freely in both tests, essentially giving up its entire contents without any indication that is leak proof at all. While we loved that the Frost is insulated, the fact that it leaked in the same way as an ordinary cup gave us pause.

Ease of Use


Bottles should definitely be easy to use. There is no use in owning a bottle that is difficult to drink from or hard to handle. If kids don't enjoy using the bottle then they won't, and you'll be left with a relatively expensive paperweight, or something that takes up space in the cupboard. While many little testers were drawn to the bottles that had the most fun graphics or characters they recognized, it was the bottles that were easy to drink from that ended up the most used. At least one of the bottles was so hard to drink from that even adults struggled with getting water out and it ended up being the one bottle that no one wanted to drink from. While many of the metrics might feel more important than how hard it is to drink from, this metric is arguably the most important because the rest doesn't matter if your children won't use the bottles to begin with.

The Nalgene is so hard to drink from  it requires excessive sucking power
The Nalgene is so hard to drink from, it requires excessive sucking power
The Nalgene Grip N Gulp earned the lowest score for the ease of use metric. Even though it is lightweight and fairly easy to hold, the no-leak value and small spout openings made this bottle nearly impossible to drink from. It scored only a 4 of 10 in our tests, and most of those points were earned for being easy to pick up as opposed to easy to drink from. The Crocodile also struggled in this metric earning just a 5 for ease of use, and a 2 for ease of sucking. The Contigo earned the highest score in this metric with a 9 of 10, losing points for being heavy, but getting a perfect 10 for ease of drinking. While the Contigo had a great drinking mechanism, and offers a nice personal flow rate with an open spout, some younger user had trouble pushing in the button at the same time as sipping.

Ease of Cleaning


While there aren't many parts  they can be difficult to take apart and clean
While there aren't many parts, they can be difficult to take apart and clean
Being able to clean bottles is kind of a big deal. If a bottle takes too much time, or requires too many special tools to clean, you might just be tempted to skip cleaning it altogether. Bottles with fewer parts, or those that are easy to take apart, scored higher in this metric than the options we struggled with or that needed straw brushes to clean properly. Having a bottle that is convenient to use and clean will make it the bottle of choice for just about any event. For this reason we feel that this metric is important to consider when thinking about which bottle to purchase. In short, we feel that parents shouldn't be slaving away in the kitchen after playing chauffeur, chef, mentor, and parent.

Most of the kid's water bottles were simpler than the sippy cups to assemble and clean. In general, they have fewer parts and are easier to assemble than
Two parts are easy to assemble and clean
Two parts are easy to assemble and clean
the sippy cups. Most of the bottles required a bottle brush to properly clean, but only a few needed a straw brush to finish. Lower scores were given to bottles that needed special tools or extra time.

The Contigo once again walked away the leader earning a 9 of 10 in this category. The Klean Kanteen Kids Sports Bottle also did well in this metric with an 8 and only 2 parts. Both Thermos offerings did poorly in this metric scoring only 3 of 10. Theses bottles had a few more parts than the other bottles in the review and it took us a little longer to disassemble them. They also both require the use of straw brush to clean their straws. However, the Camelbak Eddy scored the lowest in this metric with a 2. The valve and straw were harder to clean and assemble.

Eco-Health


We almost can't say enough about how important eco-health is to us. With all of the chemicals and potential toxins we come into contact with everyday, we think it is important to limit the ones we can. Given children's sensitive developing systems it makes sense to do what you can to limit exposure to possibly harmful substances when possible. We think it is important to give consideration to health as well as the environment when making buying decisions for our children. Possibly one of the most important category of products for this concern is anything that holds consumables. This is why we gave higher scores for products made of inert materials like stainless steel, or to products that were made with recyclable materials or from recycled materials.
Only the lid is plastic on the Kid Basix bottle  so no plastic sits in the liquid or potentially leaches into the contents.
Only the lid is plastic on the Kid Basix bottle, so no plastic sits in the liquid or potentially leaches into the contents.
The bottles we tested were mostly made of stainless steel with only two plastic bottles in the group. And while all the bottles had some type of plastic or silicone/plastic lid and valve, only a few of the stainless bottles had plastic straws that sat inside the bottles. For more information on how we feel about plastic and the potential of some plastics to leach chemicals, please read our How to Choose the Best Sippy Cup for a Toddler article or our Are Plastics Safe for Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups?.

Bottles also earned points for eco-health by being insulated and not requiring hands on mouthpieces to operate. Insulated bottles can keep contents cooler and viable for a longer period of time should the bottle be full of something other than water. Mouthpieces that didn't need hands to open were considered more hygienic than those that needed little germy hands to operate, and bottles with lids earned even more points by protecting spouts from dirt and germs while in transit.

None of the bottles earned a perfect 10 score, but the Thermos Foogo Insulated Straw Bottle and the Thermos Funtainer both earned 9 of 10 for eco-health. Both bottles are stainless steel, insulated, use little plastic, have attached lids, and can be used without touching the mouthpiece. The Contigo, Bubba Hero Sport, and the Eco Vessel Frost all earned 8 of 10 for their nods to eco-health. The lowest scores in this metric went to the Camelbak and the Nalgene which each earned 3s. Both bottles are made entirely of plastic, are not insulated, and neither come with lids.

Conclusion


The number of water bottles out there may seem endless, and at first glance, it may be hard to tell the difference between them all. We dug through the details to find which bottles had the most useful features and which ones were kid approve in the hopes that it will help you choose the best water bottle for your child. If you're still left scratching your head, our Buying Advice article explains more in depth what you might want to consider when making your decision.
Juliet Spurrier, MD & BabyGearLab Team

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