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10 best water bottles for kids: Leakproof styles for their school bags

Kep little ones hydrated with these handy flasks

<p>We looked for leakproof designs that look good to boot</p>

We looked for leakproof designs that look good to boot

By now we all know that we should avoid single-use plastic wherever possible, and instead buy items that are built for repeat use – hence the sharp rise in popularity of reusable water bottles.

But where children are concerned, there’s also the added benefit of these water bottles being easier to use: they take away the danger of spillage that is always present with “normal” cups, and good quality designs can be packed into bags with no danger of leaks. Add this to the experience of the last 18 months, where personal hygiene has never been more important, and it’s easy to see why most schools now ask that children bring their own individual water bottle to school with them each day.

Wherever they’re taking it, the most important thing a kids’ water bottle can be is leakproof. We’ve seen countless vessels that look lovely or have elaborate straw systems and lids, but cannot be relied on to do the job of simply containing water without spillage, so we’ve ensured that all the bottles in this round-up can withstand bouncing around in school bags, knocks and shakes.

One of the main factors when it comes to children is appeal – so decoration and design are important, but never at the cost of functionality. Bear in mind that any water bottle with built-in straws or nozzles makes drinking easy, but cleaning a little bit harder.

Many schools require that children have a clear bottle, so we’ve included plenty of options if this is the case for you, but there are also many water bottles made from metal that are brilliant at keeping water cool and are in some cases more durable than their plastic counterparts, so we’ve included these too.

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We found that the children who helped us with this review loved any bottle that required a button to be pressed in order to be used. This cause-and-effect aspect is a real winner, although the sound of it on repeat in the back of the car can begin to grate. We also kept an eye on the environmental credentials of each bottle, opting for more eco-conscious brands where possible.

How we tested

These bottles were tested over three weeks, by children aged between 3 and 14 years old who took them on long car journeys, to summer camps, gymnastics classes, countryside walks and even to bed with them.

The best kids’ water bottles for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Contigo gizmo flip autospout kids water bottle: £15.60, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best button mechanism – Mepal campus drinking bottle: £11, Kidly.co.uk
  • Best for older children – Accessorize willow water bottle: £12, Next.co.uk
  • Best value bottle – Sydney the sloth water bottle: £6.95, Rexlondon.com
  • Best all-rounder – Super quench no spill cup: £8.05, Nuby-uk.com
  • Best smaller bottle – Endangered animals water bottle: £6, Babybamba.com
  • Best for keeping drinks cool – 2.0 kids bottle: £29.98, Shoreusable.com
  • Best for long days – Flip & Clip water bottle: £10, Tinc.co.uk
  • Best for durability – Kleen Kanteen kid classic: £22.95, Kleankanteen.co.uk
  • Best as part of a set – Splish splash steel bottle: £12, Welovefrugi.com

Contigo gizmo flip autospout kids water bottle

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

More fold out than pop-up, from the moment this 420ml capacity BPA-free water bottle was in our hands, we knew it meant business. With one press of a button, the silicone leakproof mouthpiece instantly folds out and can be pushed back into its “closed” position just as easily. From a hygiene perspective, this was great as children don’t actually have to touch the area they drink from. Our five-year-old tester was delighted with the mechanics of the lid/straw/mouthpiece – thankfully it’s so well made that no amount of fiddling is going to cause it to break.

The leak situation was brilliant, in that there wasn’t one – whether the mouthpiece was out or in, whether the bottle was shaken or dropped or rolled, not one drop came out.

One of this bottle’s UPSs is its “easy clean” claim – and we can vouch for this being the case. You simply take the lid and all of its components apart in what is actually a really intuitive way, before putting the whole lot in the dishwasher to ensure a thorough clean. Putting it back together is just as easy. There are lots of different colourways to choose from, too.

Mepal campus drinking bottle

Best: Button mechanism

Rating: 8/10

With a 400ml capacity, this is a decent-sized bottle for younger children to take to school for the day. We love the design – an extravaganza of line-drawn sea life on pale ocean blue BPA-plastic that is totally dishwasher proof. There is a side button which when pressed releases a short drinking spout which is easily pushed down once used. This process is easy and works without a glitch – our five-year-old tester is obsessed with it.

We were impressed with how sturdy this is – it was dropped from a great height one day and survived without a dent, and the pop-up mechanism was unaffected. Its claims to be leakproof are true – notthing comes out even when held upside down and shaken.

Accessorize willow water bottle

Best: For older children

Rating: 5/10

This is one for older children – secondary school age and beyond – on account of it being made from sturdy glass, boasting a screw top and having a wide opening to drink from.

Covered in a tactile (BPA-free) silicone casing, it’s easy to hold, will bounce if dropped, which we did, twice on concrete, and looks fresh and contemporary, too, especially thanks to its bamboo lid. It’s wipe-clean only, which isn’t ideal but not a deal breaker.

Rex London Sydney the sloth water bottle

Best: Value bottle

Rating: 7/10

Like unicorns and llamas before them, sloths are having a moment. These sleepy creatures are everywhere and Sydney is the star of the show as far as this 500ml bottle with integrated straw is concerned.

That’s not to say this is more style than substance – we were in fact really impressed with how well this worked and how sturdy it was given the low price point. We wondered if this would be truly leak-free – and it is, provided the lid is pushed into place. We found there were no leaks, at all, even when shaken upside down.  Our five-year-old tester loved the fabric wristband, which turns the bottle into a rather fabulous accessory. Although this is hand wash only it’s still an absolute bargain.

Nuby super quench no spill cup

Best: All-rounder

Rating: 9/10

This 540ml BPA-free, shatterproof bottle ticks all the boxes: it doesn’t leak, boasts a rigid handle to make it easy to carry and has shiny, dazzling iridescent design for little magpies who like a bit of bling in their backpacks. It can be used in the dishwasher (while it promises no warping the design might fade over time).

The straw part is essentially a soft, silicone spout that has been dentist-approved and is therefore gentle on growing teeth. This flips up at the press of a button and is easily pushed back down: in either state, there is no leaking at all. The only time you’ll see leaking is if the components in the lid are not all in place – for example after washing – so do double check. We loved the larger volume – perfect for hot days and long journeys.

Endangered animals water bottle

Best: Smaller bottle

Rating: 6/10

This diminutive aluminium bottle is so sweet – depicting a map of the world and boasting a round lid covering a nozzle that little ones must pull up to drink from, and push back down when they’re done to avoid leaks. This process might be tricky for younger children – our four-year-old tester had to be repeatedly reminded to close the nozzle. For this reason, we think this bottle is best suited to situations where there are flat surfaces or cup holders available – however, when closed properly it is absolutely leakproof.

Sho 2.0 kids bottle

Best: For keeping drinks cool

Rating: 8/10

Obviously using a reusable water bottle is environmentally friendly in and of itself, but the SHO bottles really up the ante as far as eco credentials are concerned. They are BPA-free, and more than 10 per cent of SHO’s profits are given to charity. Made from stainless steel – which is durable and robust – these bottles, which are at the top end of the market in terms of price, do have so much to recommend them.

We loved how they are packaged in recycled cardboard and their temperature control – icy water for 24 hours, yes please! Not only are these bottles leakproof under any circumstances, but they are also one of the few bottles that won’t produce condensation, which can create unwanted dampness. The lid is a simple open bottle top but you can order a straw lid (£4.99, Shoreusable.com) separately which is best for younger children. If you aren’t happy there’s a lifetime guarantee, too.

Tinc flip & clip water bottle

Best: For long days

Rating: 8/10

This long, tall bottle can contain 500ml of liquid making it brilliant for long days. It’s made from BPA plastic and has a relatively wide opening to drink from.

But what we – or more accurately – our six-year-old tester liked best about this was its clever lid. It flips open and clips shut – but that’s not all. It also has a lock mechanism – once in place the bottle is completely sealed and leak-free. There is an assortment of colours to pick from, all with a monster theme.

Kleen Kanteen kid classic

Best: For durability

Rating: 8/10

This version of the Klean Kanteen with a sports cap doesn’t promise to be totally leak proof – more spill proof, but we found it didn’t leak at all if the cap was put back in place properly. It is also compatible with other Klean Kanteen caps.

With a capacity of 355ml this can be used for children to take to school or on long journeys, but we think it comes into its own when the water vessel of choice for outdoor adventure. This is thanks to its stainless steel composition, which ensures top notch durability – sayonara to dents – not to mention the Klean Coat powder coat finish means the pristine paintwork will never chip. It’s also dishwasher safe. This bottle is truly built to last.

Splish splash steel bottle

Best: As part of a set

Rating: 7/10

This 400ml stainless steel bottle is eco-friendly, durable and rust resistant. The lid is a simple screw top, with a wide opening – an alternative to straws and spouts – that echoes more traditional means of drinking, so best for children who have mastered controlling water flow.

It’s not dishwasher-proof, but it’s easy enough to hand wash – no fiddly bits to contend with. Oh, and there’s a whole host of matching items including a backpack (£28, Welovefrugi.com) and lunch bag (£16, Welovefrugi.com) if you fancy expanding your set.

The verdict: Kids' water bottles

The Contigo is probably the cleverest as far as lid/straw design goes – especially as it can all be cleaned so thoroughly in the dishwasher, but the Nuby is a close second, and we love its bigger size. The stainless steel offerings are a brilliant shout in terms of durability and keeping water cool – notably the Sho which is totally leakproof.

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Send them off on their first day with our best kids’ lunch boxes that will keep food fresh and secure

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