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May 12, 2024May 12, 2024

With students going back to school in still-sweltering summer heat, and some schools leaving their water fountains off, parents can only hope their children will remember to hydrate with the water bottle purchased for them.

Water bottles are now a must-have item during the back-to-school shopping season. But children are not always consistent when it comes to bringing an item like a water bottle to school, and then back home, every day. They also don’t always bring water bottles out of the depths of their backpacks to get washed regularly.

And to make matters worse, water bottle makers seem more preoccupied with getting the right licensed characters on the bottle than making it durable enough to withstand the inevitable beating a child will inflict on it. So what’s a parent to do?

RELATED: Pa. students invent device to secure water bottles to classroom desks

Please allow me to share some hard lessons learned from supplying three boys with a parade of water bottles.

Material doesn’t matter. Either stainless steel or plastic will work. Parents who are buying the thick glass bottles covered with silicon webbing – well, I salute you and your gambling ways. One advantage to most plastic bottles is that they can be thrown in the dishwasher, unless you have the expensive stainless steel ones that are dishwasher safe. Kudos.

Parts need to be attached. The cap or top of the lid should be firmly attached. Hinges are not great for kids. There should also be some sort of handle – and a hard material that’s integral to the bottle’s body is better than a silicon leash that can snap off with enough regular use. This is also why I dislike straws in reusable water bottles; they have to be detached in order to wash them, and are too easy to lose in the process.

Cleaning it should be easy. I once had a travel coffee mug that never leaked, but its auto-seal mechanism got incredibly disgusting after regular use. Bottles with a complicated lid are not great for kids.

More expensive is not better. I have one child who has lost five water bottles in one year. Replacing water bottles can get pricey real fast, so if you can find one that’s cost efficient, your wallet will thank you.

With these lessons in mind, I was seriously considering buying my children the stainless steel version of a straw-less Contigo water bottle with a locking mechanism that I already own, but they are priced at about $14 each. Plus, a hinged lid that works for an adult like myself would likely get destroyed by one or more of my children sooner or later.

All credit goes to my husband who spied a trio of nondescript water bottles at Target. They fit all my requirements – a hard material (stainless steel), screw-on lid and handle that are both attached, no straw, and the cheapest price tag we’d seen at $5. These Room Essentials water bottles come in gray and pink – and while they don’t sport any trendy or popular licensed cartoon characters, more often than not, my kids – like so many others – always slap stickers on them anyway.

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RELATED: Pa. students invent device to secure water bottles to classroom desks