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Testing Kids’ Water Bottles

By Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm Published

Kids lead busy lives. We set out to find a water bottle that could withstand every activity—from school to sports and beyond.

We love our favorite glass and plastic water bottles, but at 22 to 24 ounces they’re definitely adult-sized. Kids’ smaller hands require smaller bottles, and many manufacturers make water bottles designed for them with kid-friendly features such as straws for easier drinking, leak-proof caps that prevent spills, and protective sleeves to protect against breakage. 

We wanted to find the best water bottle for kids. To do that, we gathered and tested nine water bottles made specifically for kids; priced from about $5 to about $30; and made from BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, and glass (many with silicone add-ons). We held each water bottle upside down and shook it to check for any leakage; drank from it; filled it with a green smoothie and let it sit, unrefrigerated, for three days to see if the bottle stained or retained any odors; and dropped it repeatedly onto the ground. We also had eight kids, ages 8 to 13, open and close the bottles, drink from them, and drop them onto the ground.

A Kids’ Water Bottle That Is Durable and Spill-Proof

Water bottles often get thrown in backpacks and sports bags, so a basic requirement for any good water bottle—kid-sized or not—is that it’s leakproof. Fortunately, no bottles leaked when we filled them both partially and fully and then shook them vigorously.

So, we decided to kick things up a notch. We filled the bottles with water, placed them on the counter, and dropped them onto the hard floor of our test kitchen three times, with the bottles facing rightside up, sideways, and upside down. 

The water bottles were surprisingly durable: None of them sustained enough damage to render them unusable, though there were some spills and dents. One of the bottles had a sippy cup-style lid, and small drops of water spurted out through the opening when we dropped it. A plastic water bottle’s lid popped off when we dropped it upside down, sending the water all over the floor. Both stainless-steel water bottles dented a bit. And while the glass water bottle didn’t shatter, its plastic cap broke in half the first time we dropped the bottle (the company does sell replacements online). Our favorite water bottles did not leak, and even had locks that ensured their spouts didn’t accidently open upon impact.

We wanted to make sure the bottles wouldn't leak while being shaken around at sports practice or tossed about on the playground.

The Best Kids’ Water Bottle Is Easy to Clean

To find out how easy the kids’ water bottles would be to clean under even the grossest of circumstances, we filled the bottles with green smoothies and let them sit at room temperature on the counter for three days—simulating a bottle forgotten in a backpack or locker over a weekend. We then emptied the bottles, cleaned the bottles per the manufacturers’ instructions—either placing them into the dishwasher or washing them by hand with our favorite bottle brush—and then checked for staining. 

We had to clean both of the stainless-steel water bottles by hand, and while this was easy enough (despite one having a fairly small mouth), we preferred water bottles that were dishwasher-safe. We also found built-in straws were tough to clean and trapped bits of the smoothie, even when we ran them through the dishwasher. 

Once the bottles were clean, we smelled them to see if they had retained any odors from the smoothie. None of them had.

But What Did the Kids Think?

We couldn’t find the best water bottles for kids without input from actual kids, so we asked eight kids from the ages of 8 to 13 to open and close the bottles, drink from them, and drop them onto the floor from hip height. 

Our key takeaway? Lid design mattered most. Nearly all of the kids preferred the bottle with a silicone straw built into the bottle cap (it had a plastic cap that kept the straw covered when not in use) and thought it was the easiest to drink from. Regardless of their age, the kids did not like the bottle with a sippy cup-style lid that only allowed water to come out at a trickle or the bottle with a  “sport cap” featuring a silicone nozzle that was hard to pull open (many of the kids used their teeth). Also nixed: a bottle that required the kids to continuously press a button while drinking which they found “hard” and “weird” to use. 

While our adult testers preferred simple products with few parts for easy cleaning, kids loved extras such as a silicone sleeve that added grippiness, a lock on the cap that prevented accidental spills, and a handle that made for easier carrying. Kids also found the glass water bottle a bit too heavy.

The Best Kids’ Water Bottle: Bubba Flo Kids Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve, 16 oz

The Bubba Flo Kids Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve, 16 oz, is our favorite kids’ water bottle, since it’s easy to drink from and clean. It didn’t leak and survived repeated dropping without a scratch. It also didn’t retain any odors and is dishwasher-safe (although you have to remove its silicone sleeve and wash that separately). Kids appreciated its easy-to-drink-from nozzle, the lock on its cap that prevented spills, its grippy silicone sleeve, and its extra carrying handle for toting around. We thought it struck a balance between kid- and parent-friendly features. And while this choice is made from BPA-free plastic, we can also recommend one water bottle made from stainless steel and one made of glass for those who want to avoid plastic.

Equipment Review Kids’ Water Bottles

Kids lead busy lives. We set out to find a water bottle that could withstand every activity—from school to sports and beyond.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.