Trying to get your little ones to drink more water? Then check out our expert advice for what to look for in a kids’ water bottle, how to clean water bottles properly, tips for using water bottles, frequently asked questions, and our recommendations for the best water bottles for toddlers and kids ages 2-12.

graphic for post - best kids water bottles - recommendations, tips, ages 2-12 years. Images are of colorful plastic and metal water bottles against a white background.

Medically reviewed and co-written by Lauren Braaten, Pediatric Occupational Therapist (OT).

Water Bottle for Kids

We often forget how important water is for our health. Drinking water helps regulate body temperature, digest food, and prevent constipation. Proper hydration has also been linked to improved short-term memory, alertness, and cognitive function.

As our bodies function throughout the day, we lose water. So it’s important to replace the water we lose to prevent dehydration. Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but particularly for kids. Compared to adults, kids have a larger proportion of their skin available to lose sweat and be exposed to heat. Also, kids may not recognize thirst as easily or forget to take water breaks.

For these reasons, we LOVE kids water bottles. When kids have their own water bottles, they are more likely to drink more water throughout their day. We’ll review some of our favorite kids water bottles to keep your little ones hydrated.

Reasons to Love Reusable Water Bottles for Kids

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Avoids potentially harmful chemicals from bottled water
  • Saves money
  • Teaches healthy habits
  • Allows you to flavor your water
  • Long-lasting durability
  • Helps reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages

What to Look For in a Kids Water Bottle

With so many types of kids water bottles available, you may be wondering how to choose one. Here are some factors to consider, depending on your child’s needs.


A few popular choices for kids water bottles include stainless steel, plastic, or glass. For toddlers and younger kids, stainless steel or plastic is often the safer and tougher choice to handle drops and dents. Stainless steel is durable and food-grade safe, and is frequently used with doubled-walled insulated bottles, keeping drinks colder for longer.

Higher quality, reusable plastic water bottles are usually free of unwanted chemicals, such as BPA, BPS, and BPF. Plastic can be a lightweight choice for toddlers and younger kids as well as allows you to easily see how much water is left.


Your child will be lifting and drinking from their water bottle throughout the day, so make sure the size of the bottle is manageable for their smaller hands. As adults, we might underestimate how big of a difference a few ounces can make for a toddler or young child, such as 10 oz compared to 16 oz.

Ease of Opening, Cleaning, and Assembling

Choose a water bottle that your child can open independently, so they can easily stay hydrated even at daycare or school. Think about ease of cleaning and re-assembling parts. Ideally, you’ll want to clean your kid’s water bottle daily, so less complicated pieces are better!

Type of Drinking Spout

Just as there are many types of water bottles, there are many different types of drinking spouts. For toddlers and younger kids, a straw-style water bottle can be easier to manage on-the-go than a twist-off cap. Water bottles that are spoutless (aka a small hole to drink through, often with a flip cap to close) or twist-off caps or lids are usually more appropriate for older kids.

Best Toddler Water Bottles

Best Kids Water Bottles

How to Clean a Water Bottle

To thoroughly clean your kid’s water bottle, use warm water and soap to rinse both the inside and the outside. Make sure to clean any nooks and crevices around the drinking spout, as well as within the spout or straw. Use a small cleaning brush that fits easily inside the straw and let all parts air-dry overnight. 

If your water bottle specifies that it is dishwasher safe, you can also wash it this way. Make sure to let the water bottle and all parts air dry completely before using again.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all water bottles safe for younger kids?

With toddlers and younger kids, always check for any parts that could become choking hazards, such as smaller twist off caps or pieces that could easily come apart. Periodically inspect your kid’s water bottle for signs of breakdown and replace as needed.

How often should you wash a kids water bottle?

If used every day, you should clean your kids water bottle regularly, ideally daily. Bacteria love warm, dark, and moist environments, so any traces of water in the bottle and around the drinking spout create potential for bacterial growth. 

Do water bottles keep the water cold?

Stainless steel water bottles will keep liquids cold for longer than plastic or glass. The more layers of insulation (such as double walled versus single walled) between your liquids and the outside temperature will help keep water colder.

Is there a leak-proof water bottle?

Although it’s hard to claim that any water bottle is 100% leak proof, many will greatly reduce or practically eliminate leaking, especially when assembled and used properly. Look for tight fitting seals, as well as lids or spouts that snap close or fold in securely.

How much water should my child drink in a day?

Water recommendations vary by age. Kids under one year of age only need 4 to 8 oz per day. Children 1-3 years old need about 4 cups of beverages each day, primarily water and milk (limit juice). According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, boys and girls 4-8 years old need 7 cups per day. Girls and boys 9-13 years should drink 9-10 cups per day. Keep in mind this includes total water intake from water, other beverages, and foods like fruits and vegetables, so actual cups of water may be less.

Tips for Using Kids Water Bottles

  • Try adding slices of fruit, such as lemon, strawberry, or orange for variety and flavor
  • Always offer water with meals and snacks
  • Encourage your child to drink water before, after and during physical activity
  • Schedule regular times for “water breaks,” especially during hot weather
  • Be a good role model and show your kids that you drink water frequently throughout the day 
  • Help older kids get in the habit of being responsible for filling and packing their own water bottle in their school bag
  • Encourage kids to drink more water by placing a rubber band around a clear water bottle. Give your child a challenge to “drink to the line” instead of asking “can you drink more?” This gives a visual cue of how much to drink.

Best Kids Water Bottles