Mom Goes Camping

Best Water Bottles for Little Kids 

I go hiking with my small kids and one of the essential items for them to have is their own water bottle.  I also use the same hiking water bottles for trips around town and to the playground.  I’ve come to realize that some water bottles are simply not practical for little kids.

Below I’ve selected the best water bottles for small kids (about two to six years old), as well as info as to why these water bottles are good choices.

 

Quick Picks:

*Keep reading for the full review and top picks.

 

Features You Want in Water Bottles for Little Kids

After using numerous different water bottles with my daughters, these are the features that I find absolutely mandatory –  They will make your life much easier.

1. Spill Proof or Reduced Spill

One of the worst things that can happen on a trip is your little kid spilling the water bottle.  You or your kid can end up drenched (and thus freezing if it’s cold out) and hopefully you have a change of clothes!  Your kid can also end up thirsty if you don’t have a place to refill the water bottle, as is often the case when I go hiking with my kids.

There are some kids water bottles which are completely spill proof even when open.  Water bottles with straws are also a good choice: they still can spill but the water flows out very slowly so it usually won’t make a mess.

 

2. Little Kids Can Open the Water Bottle Themselves

Unless you want to open the water bottle for your kids each time they take a drink, make sure it is easy to open.  Look for flip tops or large buttons.  Avoid anything with screw tops for this reason.  Also avoid hinge-style locking caps for very little kids; push-button locking caps are a better option.

 

3. Small Size

For little kids water bottles, 12oz is a pretty good size.  Anything larger than that will be too wide for their small hands (thus increasing the likelihood that they will spill water all over themselves).  I’ve also found that smaller kids water bottles are more multi-purpose.  You can even fit some in your purse on quick trips where you don’t want to bring a backpack.

 

4. Easy to Clean

Little kids are terrible about backwashing food into water bottles when they take a drink, which means that MOLD can quickly start growing (embarrassingly, I’ve opened up my kids’ water bottles to find mold on the lid edges multiple times).

To make sure that the kids water bottle is actually easy to clean:

  • Make sure a bottle brush can fit into the opening
  • Avoid water bottles with weird grooves or shapes
  • Choose ones which have dishwasher safe bodies and lids

 

5. Attachment Method

I’ve heard stories of parents who had to backtrack 2 miles on hikes to look for a favorite water bottle that fell out of their kid’s backpack.  An easy way to prevent lost water bottles is to get ones which can be attached to a backpack or stroller.

I personally like carabiner attachments.  Little kids can’t undo a carabiner though (at least my 3 year old can’t).  So, I usually tie the water bottle to the stroller/carrier/backpack.  If the string is long enough, then your toddler can take a drink while the water bottle is still attached.

 

6. Hygienic Lid

Trust me, your little kid will drop the water bottle onto a gross surface.  You’ll then have to decide whether you let your kid go thirsty or drink from the contaminated mouthpiece.  A simple way to avoid this dilemma is to get a water bottle with a hygienic lid, such as a flip cap or flip straw that keeps it covered while not in use.

 

7. Mouthpiece and Cap Type

Kids water bottles can have one of the following mouthpiece types listed below. For very little kids, you’ll probably want a straw water bottle.  From 3 years and up, spout water bottles are usually more convenient to use.


Hard Straw

Hard straws water bottles are made out of rigid plastic. They usually flip back and are leakproof when closed.  Most do leak when open, though there are some leak-proof ones.

+ Prevent backwash
+ Withstand some chewing
+ Spills are slow trickles
– Annoying to clean


Soft Straw Cap

A lot of newer water bottles for kids have “bite and sip” soft straws.  I personally find them weird to use but lots of people like them.

+ Leak proof, even when open
– Annoying to clean
– Eventually get gross teeth marks


Spout with Flip Cap

This is what I preferred for my kids starting from 3 years old.  There is a risk of spilling when open so I try to get ones with smaller diameter mouth spouts.

+ Easy to clean
+ Cap completely protects mouthpiece
– Can spill entire contents quickly


Sports Cap  (Not Recommeded)

I don’t really recommend sports cap water bottles for small kids.  They are hard to open and even harder for kids to close completely.  This has resulted in lots of leakage.  Plus, the sports cap gets gunked up quickly.

+ Cheap
– Hard for kids to open and close
– Leak when not closed properly
– Get gunky quickly
– Get chewed up


Screw Caps (Not Recommeded)

I also don’t recommend screw cap water bottles for little kids.  Most small kids can’t open the screw caps easily and the caps tend to get lost.

+ Cheap
– Caps get lost
– Hard for little kids to open


 

Best Water Bottles for Little Kids

1. Zulu Torque Kids Water Bottle

Best Overall

Zulu Torque Kids Water Bottle review

I love this water bottle because it has a hygienic locking lid which is actually easy for little kids to use.  When in the lock position, it won’t accidentally open.  There is a soft straw which isn’t completely leak proof, but it would take a long time before it made any serious spills – thus making it good for very little children or older kids.  There aren’t any cute designs but the textured exterior looks cool and provides a good grip for sweaty hands.

  • Size: 12oz and 16oz
  • Material: BPA Tritan plastic with silicone sleeve
  • Lid Type: Flip soft straw with plastic locking lid
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: No
  • Buy Here

2. Contigo Easy Clean Kids Water Bottle with Autospout Straw

Best For: Very little kids who need a completely spill-proof water bottle

contigo easy clean autospout kids water bottle

Available in lots of cute designs for little boys and girls, the Contigo water bottle has a push-button hygiene lid.  It’s easy for toddlers to both open and close on their own.  The interior valve means the straw won’t leak even when open.  However, the straw is attached to the lid so is somewhat annoying to clean.

  • Size: 14oz
  • Material: BPA plastic
  • Lid Type: Push-button pop up soft straw
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: Yes
  • Buy Here

3. Nalgene Kids On the Fly Water Bottle

Best For: Slightly older kids or kids who will abuse their water bottle

nalgene on the fly kids water bottle

The Nalgene On The Fly is one of the most popular water bottles for kids.  It has a locking cap, which means it won’t accidentally open like push-button caps.  This makes it great for hiking or kids who abuse their water bottles.  The spout opening will spill quickly, so it’s not a good pick for toddlers to use by themselves.

  • Size: 12oz
  • Material: BPA free Tritan plastic
  • Lid Type: Spout with locking flip cap
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: No
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: No
  • Buy Here

4. Hydro Flask Kids 2.0

Best For: Insulated stainless steel water bottle for kids

hydro flask 2 kids stainless steel water bottle

While they don’t come in cute designs (just various color combos), the Hydro Flask 2.0 is the best stainless steel water bottle for little kids.  The flip straw has a large tab on it which makes it easy to open and close.  Hydro Flask is also known for being able to take a beating.

  • Size: 12oz
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Lid Type: Flip hard straw
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: No
  • Buy Here

5. Yeti Rambler Jr.

Best For: Stainless steel water bottle with top handle

yeto rambler kids water bottle

Here’s one more stainless steel kids water bottle. Like the Hydro Flask, it is durable and easy for little kids to use. The main difference is that the handle is on the top and not off to the side, which some may prefer.

  • Size: 12oz
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Lid Type: Flip hard straw
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: No
  • Buy Here

6. CamelBak Eddy+

Best For: Kids who bite their straws

camelbak eddy+ kids water bottle

The CamelBak Eddy+ for kids has a “bite and sip” straw.  This design makes it completely leak proof, though it make take your kids a bit to get used to using.  There are lots of cute designs and the flip straw is easy for little kids to use on their own.

  • Size: 12oz
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Lid Type: Flip bite and sip soft straw
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: Yes
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: Yes
  • Buy Here

7. Simple Modern Summit Kids Water Bottle

Best For: Cute and cheap water bottle

This is an overall well-designed water bottle for little kids.  It is made out of plastic and has a hard straw that is easy to flip out.  The lids can be used with other Tritan bottles from the company.  They also have sippy cup lids for babies and toddlers.   Compared to the other kids water bottles reviewed here though, the main standout feature are the cute designs available.

  • Size: 12oz and 16oz
  • Material: BPA Tritan plastic
  • Lid Type: Flip hard straw
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: No
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: No
  • Buy Here

8. HomTune Girls Water Bottles

Best For: Slightly older girls who won’t put it through too much abuse

This brand makes lot of super cute water bottles with girly designs.  They are generally a good quality. However, I’d only recommend them for slightly older girls. The flip lid can accidentally open. Because it has a spout and not a straw, the water can quickly spill out.

  • Size: 23oz
  • Material: BPA free Tritan plastic
  • Lid Type: Spout with flip cap
  • Carabiner friendly: Yes
  • Insulated: No
  • Dishwasher safe: Yes
  • Spill proof when open: No
  • Buy Here

 


Image credit: “my new water bottle” (CC BY 2.0) by daisyelaine

About the author /


Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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