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18 August 2021

Best kids' water bottles

We put 12 children's water bottles to the test to see which is easiest to use and clean, and which ones could be prone to leaking or breaking.
Matthew Knight

Kids' water bottles are a staple in every parent's armoury, not to mention a requirement for most children to take to school and nursery.

As a parent, you want one that's durable, easy to use and clean, and leakproof so your child doesn't bring home a soggy bookbag. 

You also want a bottle that doesn't need replacing every single term. 

We put a selection of 12 kids' water bottles suitable for children aged five and older through their paces. Find out which ones we'd recommend. 

Editor's Choice kids' water bottles

Editor's Choice, Sistema water bottle, 700ml

Cheapest price: £3 at Amazon. Also available in 460ml bottles, three for £8.99 at Amazon

Colours: Blue, green, pink, purple

Spout type: Twist-top mechanism

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Leakproof, durable, simple design, easy to use for small hands, easy to clean. 

Cons: Plain design (no dinosaurs or unicorns in sight).

Our verdict: We love finding modestly priced products that outshine more expensive counterparts, and there's no finer example than this Sistema kids' water bottle. 

Don't let the no-frills appearance put you off, this bottle sailed through our durability tests, a three year old and a five year can close the twist-top spout without it leaking, and it's easy to use. 

It also sailed through our three cleaning tests, emerging spotless from a dishwasher, spick and span after a sink wash, and it was a doddle to brush off sand from around the spout after rolling it in a sand pit. 

We tested the 700ml bottle that you can buy for £3, but you can also buy 460ml and 330ml bottles which have an almost identical design. 

Editor's Choice, Tinc Tonkin blue drinks bottle, 500ml

Cheapest price: £10 at John Lewis. Also available at Amazon

Colours: Grey, green, pink, purple

Spout type: Lockable flip-top lid with open pour spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Durable, easy to clean and easy to use. It also has a locking mechanism to prevent the flip lid from coming open in a school bag. 

Cons: Sand can get under the lid, but it's easy to clean off. 

Our verdict: It's a well designed leakproof bottle available in a variety of fun colourful designs.

This bottle from Tinc was the clear favourite of our five-year-old boy tester, who said its 'easy to drink out of, I like the way it locks and I like the button that makes the lid flip. I also like the alien.'

It doesn't have many difficult-to-reach nooks and crannies so it can be cleaned easily in a dishwasher or a sink. It also survived our tough drop test with only superficial scratches. 

A three year old and a five year old were both able to tighten up the bottle easily without it leaking, and use the lockable latch. 

Despite a small amount of sand getting under the lid when we rolled it in a sandpit, it was very easy to brush off afterwards. 

Ion8 Kids water bottle

Editor's Choice, Ion8 leakproof kids' water bottle, 350ml

Cheapest price: £8.99 at Amazon.

Colours: Available in 15 different colours

Spout type: Lockable flip-top lid with open pour spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Leakproof, lockable lid, durable, easy to use and easy to clean.

Cons: Sand can get under the lid, but it's easy to clean off. 

Our verdict: Easy to use and watertight, this practical water bottle from Ion8 also sailed through our durability tests.

Both of our three-year-old and five-year-old testers were able to fill and tighten up this bottle without it leaking. It also came out completely clean from the dishwasher, and again when we washed it in a sink, with no tough-to-reach spots where dirt and bacteria could be left to linger. 

It's a tough bottle, too, suffering only light scratches after we dropped it 10times, when full, onto a hard surface. 

Rolling it around in a sandpit did allow some grains to get under the flip lid, but these were easily brushed off without much fuss.

This bottle has handy measurement lines on the side, so you or your child can trace the amount of water drunk through the day. 

Additionally, there's a small latch on the flip lid which allows you to lock it, preventing unwanted spillages in a school bag. 

How the rest of the kids' water bottles fared

Be-Active kids water bottle, 450ml

Cheapest price: £8.95 at Amazon.

Colours: Green, grey, pink, yellow, blue, red

Spout type: Manually flipped hard plastic straw

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: It's pretty robust, solid spout that won't get nibbled by kids, it's easy to hand wash.

Cons: It's a bit of a disaster if you drop this bottle in sand or mud, the cap wasn't completely clean after it came out of the dishwasher.

Our verdict: It's a decent bottle that's watertight and easy to use for small hands. It's also pretty robust, with a sturdy spout and only superficial scratches after our tough drop test. 

But this Be-Active kids water bottle was let down by poor results in our cleaning tests. 

There were still spots of muck on the underside of the lid when it came out of the dishwasher, and when we rolled it in sand there was lots of sand actually inside the spout, which eventually ended up in the water inside the bottle. 

Beam Spritz flip spout drink bottle, 700ml

Cheapest price: £12 at Smiggle.

Colours: Black, green, pink, turquoise, blue

Spout type: Silicone spout with lock

Pros: It's durable.

Cons: It's a faff to clean, there are lots of small places for dirt and germs to linger.

Our verdict: Parents may be driven a little mad by this Smiggle water bottle. It's a nightmare to clean, coming out of the dishwasher with plenty of grime left on it, and it's even more difficult to clean in the sink as there are so many small nooks and crannies. 

When we rolled it in a sandpit the sand got everywhere - in and around the spout and even into the locking mechanism which completely seized. 

This water bottle also has an overcomplicated design with two straws in the bottle. Lose either of them and the bottle becomes unusable, or it will leak heavily if you leave it on its side. 

Despite being relatively durable, this kids bottle is an exercise in frustration for carers. 

Mountain Warehouse BPA free printed flip lid kids bottle, 350ml

Cheapest price: £3.99 at Mountain Warehouse

Colours: Blue, green, pink

Spout type: Soft rubber straw with flippable lid

Pros: It's easy to clean by hand.

Cons: It's not durable, it doesn't get cleaned well in a dishwasher.

Our verdict: This Mountain Warehouse kids' water bottle just isn't durable enough for our recommendation. 

The rubber that the spout is made from is soft, and liable to being chewed or splitting, and when we dropped this bottle when full the flip top lid broke off. 

We also found that the lid of this bottle doesn't get cleaned very well in a dishwasher. Even though it's cheap, you can do much better.

CamelBal Eddy Kids water bottle

CamelBak Eddy kids drinks bottle, 400ml

Cheapest price: £15.99 at John Lewis and Amazon

Colours: Green, blue, pink

Spout type: Flip-top silicone spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Durable, watertight and easy for kids' to use.

Cons: Pricier than some alternatives, difficult to clean properly.

Our verdict: The CamelBak Eddy is a decent kids' water bottle that gets rave reviews elsewhere, but it doesn't get our recommendation. 

While it's durable and easy for kids to use, it's not at all easy to clean. 

It came out of the dishwasher with lots of dirty spots still on it, particularly around the spout and underneath the lid. These spots were also hard to clean when handwashing, and we'd wager they would often be missed. 

There are also lots of nooks and crannies that dirt or sand can get wedged in, something we found when we rolled this bottle around in a sandpit.

It's a decent bottle, but the difficulty with cleaning it means we can't recommend it. You can buy replacements for the spout if and when it inevitably does get black and mouldy, but we think it would be better to buy a bottle that's easier to clean in the first place. 

Cath Kids children's fairies print drinks bottle, 330ml

Cheapest price: £8.50 at John Lewis. Also available at Amazon

Colours: Fairy pattern above, only

Spout type: Flip-up hard plastic spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: It's durable.

Cons: Difficult to clean, sand and grime can get stuck under the spout.

Our verdict: This Cath Kidston kids water bottle stood up well to being repeatedly dropped and emerged with only superficial scratches, but it's let down by how tough it is to clean. 

Grime can get stuck under the flippable spout and it's very very tough to shift it. Neither a dishwasher or a hand wash was up to the job when we tried it. 

When we rolled this bottle in a sandpit, we also noticed that sand became permanently wedged underneath the spout, which isn't ideal.

Kidly Noodoll water bottle, 250ml

Cheapest price: £16 at Kidly

Colours: Blue, pink, yellow, brown, turquoise

Spout type: Flip-up hard plastic spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Durable, easy to clean, durable spout.

Cons: Paint chips off quite easily, no protective cap for the spout so it gets very messy if you drop it in dirt or sand.

Our verdict: This undeniably cute aluminium water bottle from Kidly looks like it could be a good choice for younger children but it's easily damaged.

Although this bottle has a tough plastic spout that even the toughest of nibblers wouldn't be able to get through. When we conducted our drop test, quite a lot of the paint chipped off and because the spout was so exposed, it took a bit of a battering and had some sharp edges. 

It's easy to clean, either in the dishwasher or by hand. But the lack of a cap on the spout makes it a bit of a disaster if you drop it in mud or sand. When we did this, some sand got in the spout and even ended up in the drink. 

Mepal Kids water bottle

Mepal Campus drinking bottle pop-up, 400ml

Cheapest price: £10 at Kidly

Colours: Turquoise, blue, pink

Spout type: Pop-up spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Tough nozzle that will stand the test of time, easy to clean if it falls in mud or sand.

Cons: It's not as easy to clean as some, it broke during our drop test.

Our verdict: All in all, it's not a bad bottle from Mepal, but we can't recommend it due to its poor results in our drop test and underwhelming dishwasher cleaning results. 

This is a smart looking bottle with a durable pop-up spout. But when we dropped it on a hard surface the top of the bottle around the spout pinged off. We could easily re-attach it, but there is a risk the part could be lost. 

We found this bottle easy to clean when we rolled it in sand, and all parts of the spout can be disassembled and cleaned thoroughly when you're hand washing it. However, it wasn't that clean after washing it in the dishwasher.

Our three-year-old and five-year-old testers were both able to tighten the bottle securely so it didn't leak. 

Nuby Unicorn water bottle, 540ml

Cheapest price: £8.05 at Nuby. Also available at Amazon (out of stock).

Colours: Pink unicorns, blue pirates

Spout type: Soft silicone spout

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Pros: Easy to clean in a dishwasher or by hand.

Cons: It isn't very durable, there are nooks and crannies where mud or sand can linger.

Our verdict: Although children will love the design, we found a number of issues with this Nuby water bottle during testing.

The clasp on this bottle broke during our drop test, so we can't recommend it. Sand also got stuck in a lot of nooks and crannies of this bottle and was difficult to clean off.

This bottle leaked during our leak test. On closer inspection this is because the straw had been put back in after the cleaning test incorrectly. If you put the straw in correctly it doesn't leak, but it's trickier to do it on this bottle than with others. 

Otherwise though, this bottle is quite easy to clean and came out almost spotless when we cleaned it in a dishwasher and washed it by hand in a sink. 

Thermos 101582 hydration water bottle, 355ml

Cheapest price: £5.99 available at Amazon

Colours: Blue, clear, pink, red

Spout type: Hard plastic flip-up spout

Dishwasher safe: yes

Pros: Durable, easy to use and easy to clean.

Cons: Sand or dirt can get into the spout if you drop it. 

Our verdict: This children's water bottle from Thermos is strangely named, but let us assure you that it is designed for kids. 

Our main gripe with this water bottle is that if you drop it in mud or sand, it can very easily get clogged inside the spout, and during our tests we ended up with sand in the drink. 

Other than that, we actually really liked this bottle. It's tough, durable and dead easy to clean either in a dishwasher or by hand. 

Our three and five year old also found it really easy to use and tighten up. 

Bottle brush.

How to clean your kids' water bottle

If you buy one of our recommended kids' water bottles then it should clean up brilliantly in a dishwasher. But from time to time you'll want to dismantle all of the component parts and give any bottle a thorough hand wash. 

The best way to do this properly is to buy some bottle brushes, for example this cheap bottle cleaning kit sold at Amazon

Fill a sink with piping hot soapy water, dismantle the bottle completely, and get to work with the small brushes and sponges so that you can reach every nook and cranny. 

Don't forget to pass a soapy brush through all of the straws and spouts, as well as brushing the plastic part of the bottle cap and inside the bottle. 

From time to time It's also sensible to let all of the bottle parts soak in a sterilising solution, such as Milton, for at least 15 minutes. This will disinfect any parts of the bottle that the solution has contact with.  

What are the different types of kids' water bottles?

The type of water bottle you need will vary depending on the age of your child, and what life stage they're at. The bottles we've selected for our tests are aimed at preschool and young primary school children. 

  • Baby bottles: Baby bottles will have a rubber teat rather than a straw or a spout, which is much easier for small babies to suck milk or water through. The size of the tiny hole at the end of the teat will vary depending on how old the baby is. 
  • Straws: Once a child has grown out of baby bottles the next step might be a bottle with a straw. These can either be made of tough plastic or softer silicone. We've found that some of the softer silicone straws don't stand the test of time and children will nibble through them given half a chance. 
  • Spouts: A bit like straws, but they tend to be thicker and with a slightly wider opening. Again, bottles with spouts can be found with either softer silicone or tougher plastic. The spouts will either be manually flipped up, or with a button that pops the spout up for you. With the pop-up versions, look for bottles that also have locks so that the spout doesn't pop up by accident when it's in a bag. 
  • Open pour: These types of kids' bottles have an opening that you pour the water into your mouth through. They tend to be for slightly older children who have mastered this technique. These bottles will have a flip-top lid that closes over the top of the spout. Again, it's sensible to look for a bottle that has a lock on the top so that it doesn't inadvertently open in a bag and soak everything in it.

How we tested kids' water bottles

A good kids' water bottle should be leakproof, durable, easy to clean, and of course, easy to use for little hands. 

We designed a test to encapsulate all of these elements, and we also had two keen volunteers aged three and five to help with the testing. 

Leakproof

A three year old, a five year old and an adult filled each bottle with water and then it lay on a paper towel for an hour to see if any liquid leaked. 

The adult and the five year old were able to tighten all of the bottles we tested so no water escaped. Our three year old tester struggled with two of the bottles which leaked. We also repeated this test after the durability drop test (see below). 

In truth, it should be possible to tighten all bottles so they don't leak. A good tip is to look for bottles that are easy for children to close properly, or bottles which have a lock on them that will stop lids and spouts popping open inadvertently in a backpack or book bag. 

Boy points to scratches on water bottle

Durable

We dropped each bottle 10 times full and 10 times empty from the height of 50cm onto a hard surface. The worst bottles have overcomplicated and flimsily designed parts which broke off during this test. The best bottles only had superficial scratches.

Kids' bottle cleaning tests

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

Cleaning tests

We conducted three separate cleaning tests: 

  • Dropping in sand: each bottle was rolled in a sandpit and then examined to see how much sand got stuck in and around the bottle cap, and how easy this was to brush off. The worst bottles ended up with sand in the drink. 
  • Dishwasher: we smeared the inside, bottle caps and drinking spouts with greasy Vaseline and then washed each bottle in a dishwasher on its hottest setting. After washing we shone a UV torch on each bottle and examined them for any uncleaned spots (Vaseline glows under UV light). 
  • Hand wash: we repeated the process of dirtying the bottles with Vaseline, and then thoroughly cleaned them with soap, hot water and a bottle cleaning kit. After cleaning we checked with the UV light for uncleaned spots of Vaseline and rated each bottle on how easy it was to get clean. 

Ease of use

Finally, we observed the three and five year old filling, drinking from and closing each water bottle, and rated each for ease of use. 

We also asked each child which bottle they would like to take home with them, although this was not part of our final assessment. 

How we chose kids' water bottles

We chose kids' water bottles that are popular and sold at major retailers. Where possible we tried to keep the cost of the kids water bottles below £10. 

Which? purchased and paid for every water bottle we tested. 

After testing, the remaining usable water bottles were donated to a local children's' nursery.