Best beverage container for kids
My wife and I searched the length and breadth of the land in search of a bottle for our kids that meets the following criteria:
- easy for a toddler to operate, but big enough for older kids
- easy to thoroughly clean (no crevices that are accessible to milk but inaccessible to cleaning, will fully dismantle into a few pieces, amenable to cleaning tools such as the OXO Good Grips Bottle Cleaning Set). The real test: how quickly can I go from a bottle full of milk that rolled under the couch four days ago to clean and ready to use?
- tough, will survive being dropped and thrown and stepped on and used as an impromptu weapon
- insulated, will keep milk from spoiling for the better part of a day
- unlikely to spill or leak
The Thermos Funtainer meets these criteria better than any other bottle we have found over the last 5 years, with some caveats. The following is gleaned from about 1 year of daily use.
- easy for a toddler: may take a few frustrating tries for younger toddlers to operate the opening button, but within a day our two-year-old got it down.
- big enough for older kids: the 12oz size is ideal, not too big for youngsters to carry around but large enough for anybody else with a moderate thirst. I find myself using it from time to time. A 16oz version also exists.
- easy to thoroughly clean: Time from curdled mess to clean is ~30-60 seconds. Dismantle (4 pieces total: lid, body, silicone straw top, plastic straw stem), dump, rinse, soap & brush bottle, soap & brush straws, rinse again, reassemble. No complaints here. This is perhaps the Funtainer’s greatest strength.
- tough: overall yes, bottle built quite solidly, has survived much abuse, but we have had to replace the silicone part of the straw due to chewing. Thermos has replacements available for ~$1/piece, cheaper than replacements on Amazon. We have also had success with snipping off the chewed part once or twice before needing a replacement, though this somewhat reduces leakproofing (explained below). In one year of use with two bottles, we have replaced two silicone straws.
- insulated: More than once, when straightening up in the morning before leaving for work, I have found a bottle wedged in some crevice, tasted the milk, found it to my satisfaction, and put it back in the fridge with no complaints from or ill effects to the children. Protip: nobody has time to prechill the bottle as directed, so throw in an ice cube with your liquid to approximate the effect if you want to assure all-day cold. Most of the time even this is unnecessary.
- unlikely to spill or leak: – – if the lid is closed and the straw is full length, leakage is minor and rare even if upside down. Ensure the silicone straw is well seated for best protection. – – If the lid is open and the kid shakes the bottle vigorously, liquid will fly. – – If the lid is open and the bottle tips or is held upside down, a leak may or may not occur. If it does leak, it will be slow. We do not use these bottles for nighttime bedside water any more, but otherwise have not had reason to restrict use. Once or twice it ended up upside down with the lid open in the carseat for an extended time, which required cleaning, but a trivial amount of subsequent vigilance on our part has solved the problem. – – Part of the antileak mechanism is the lid pinching the rubber straw, such that if you have shortened the straw or it has chew holes it is more likely to leak despite a closed lid. – – Lastly, and very occasionally, I have found that as liquids warm they sometimes track up the straw and cause a (minor and slow) spontaneous leak even if the bottle is upright with the lid closed. This is more of a curiosity than a bother.
Additionally, though far less important than all of the above, the Funtainer comes in a range of solid colors and themed wrappers, including both branded characters and generic decoration. The “Color” drop down list in Amazon is staggering. Brick-and-mortar stores such as Target also sometimes have seasonal or otherwise targeted versions. Overall, this bottle has allowed us to stress much less about which bottle we use for a particular liquid, kid, or environment. It is not onerous to clean, even in the worst of situations. It is the best workhorse bottle we have come across, and will likely serve us well for years01/2/18