As parents ourselves, we know the value an effective breastfeeding balm or what a difference a well-designed bottle can make, and how all-consuming the process of feeding can be in the first year. So, the feedback from our team of home testers was particularly useful for our breastfeeding and bottlefeeding categories.
With this in mind, we tested each product for its effectiveness, questioning how genuinely useful it would be to a parent with a hungry baby. We also took into account quality, durability, and value for money. With more complex items like sterilisers and pumps, we checked technical details such as noise levels and battery life or capacity, as well as taking in feedback from from our parent testers who were using the products daily at home.
Electric/battery breast pump
Key features we tested/judged – ease of use, value for money, quality, effectiveness, noisiness, comfort, battery life
GOLD – MEDELA SWING FLEX PREMIUM, £139.99
Why it’s a winner: Medela is one of the leading brands in breast pump products, and the Flex Premium electric pump secured the Gold Award with its superior functionality and comfort for mums. Our home testers praised the flexible, adaptable breast shields and confirmed that these made finding a comfortable position very easy. They also loved the fact that this pump is straight-forward to use, with no fancy digital display or numerous buttons, and also very easy to clean and assemble. Our expert judge, maternity nurse Jade Powell, swears by the Medela, and the Flex Premium comes with a great package of bottles and accessories to get breast-pumping mums started – it’s fantastic value for money considering how effective it is, and a worthy winner.
Tester Amy, mum of 2, says: “Being electric, the Medela Swing Flex Premium does all of the hard work for you, it’s comfortable, easy to assemble, easy to clean, is portable and comes with all the little extras that you need as a breastfeeding mum. What’s not to love! I will certainly continue to use this pump on my breastfeeding journey.”
Read full review of the Medela Swing Flex breast pump
JOINT SILVER – ELVIE PUMP, £249-£499
Why it’s a winner: The Elvie is an electric breast pump with a difference. Its unique breast-like shape and lack of electric wires, designed to be worn inside your bra for hands-free pumping even on the go, earned it a big thumbs up for our judges. Our home testers loved this hands-free feature and also remarked how quiet the pump is when in use, making it very discreet. It can be operated from a smartphone app, which also tracks yield and other parameters, so no need to fiddle with any buttons.
Tester Tamara, mum of 2, says: “The pump has huge appeal due to the fact that it is hands-free – this is a game changer, you can just carry on as you were. The pump is also really quiet, that meant I could pump when we had company over, often without them realising (although I did always mention it just in case).”
Read full review of the Elvie Pump
JOINT SILVER – MEDELA FREESTYLE FLEX, £349.99
Why it’s a winner: Judges felt the Freestyle Flex from Medela is a sleek new addition to the leading breast pumping range. It brings the functionality, simple design and superior comfort that the brand is known for, as well as exceptional portability and connection to a smartphone app. Our testers loved the flexibility this portable double breast pump provides. The battery life is outstanding, and the minimal tubing and simplicity made the testers very confident in using this pump on the go. They also appreciated the Freestyle Flex accessories package, which includes a cooling bag for storing expressed milk.
Tester Nicole, mum of 2, says: “This product does exactly what is promises. It’s stylish, compact, flexible and moveable. It would give all mums the confidence to express on the go. It’s easy to put together, easy to use and transport. The attachments the product comes with like the cooling bag are brilliant and really make expressing easy and less of a worry and faff!”
BRONZE – VITAL BABY NURTURE FLEXCONE ELECTRIC BREAST PUMP, £99.99
Why it’s a winner: The Vital Baby Flexcone pump is all about comfort, and our home testers loved the feel of this pump. Its soft silicon breast cup was easy to use and our test mamas all reported great results from the pumping action and strength. MFM Awards judges also liked the fact that you can switch between electric and manual mode, making quick use on the go very easy.
Tester Bonny, mum of 1, says: “I love this pump! It has really improved how much I pump milk and the amount I collect at each pumping session. I’ve used both the electric and manual modes extensively and found it to be really reliable.”
Finalists: Lola&Lykke Smart Wireless Breast Pump | Tommee Tippee Made For Me Single Electric Breast Pump | Nuby Ultimate Double Electric Breast Pump
Manual breast pump
Key features we tested/judged – ease of use, value for money, quality, effectiveness, comfort
GOLD – PUMPD BY NEW EDITION NZ, £15.99
Why it’s a winner: The one-size-fits-all Pumpd manual breast pump works with mothers’ let down to collect milk, which judges felt made it perfect to complement breastfeeding sessions. It is made from BPA-free, food grade silicone, and the no-fuss, comfortable and easy-to-use simplicity of the product was a hit with our home testers.
Tester Wioleta, mum of 1, says: “The Pumpd is simple and effective. There are no mechanical parts to worry about, anyone can use it and it’s easy to use and fast to clean. This pump is great for new mums who are just finding their feet with breastfeeding.”
SILVER – MAM MANUAL BREAST PUMP, £40
Why it’s a winner: The MAM manual breast pump scored very well on ease of use, with one home tester finding it even more effective than her electric breast pump. Another particularly loved its comfortable soft funnel, and the fact that it comes with a MAM Easy Start bottle, which makes the MAM a good way to help new mothers on their breastfeeding journey.
Tester Nikki, mum of 1, says: “Compared to my electric pump I actually found this to be surprisingly effective. Being able to vary the intensity and speed more frequently than my electric does a really great job of mimicking a baby and getting a good yield. This product is good quality, works very well, simple to put together and use, silent, and small to carry around.”
Read full review of the MAM Manual Breast pump
Finalists: Tommee Tippee Made for Me, Single Silicone Breast Pump and Let Down Catcher
Breastfeeding balms and products
Key features we tested/judged – texture and ease of use, value for money, quality of ingredients and product, effectiveness, packaging
GOLD – MY EXPERT MIDWIFE NO HARM NIPPLE BALM, £16.50
Why it’s a winner: Made from just 3 natural ingredients, this balm has a lovely consistency, which all the MFM judges loved. It makes it easier to apply, as it sinks in smoothly and doesn’t drag sore nipples. The awards home testers liked the feel of the balm and noted that it didn’t disturb breastfeeding through unnatural odours or stickiness. The pump dispenser also impressed our judges, as it allows for one-handed application – perfect for sleep-deprived, breastfeeding nipple relief.
Tester Michelle, mum of 2, says: “It’s great that this product is made from all natural ingredients. The pump dispenser works well and makes it very easy to use. The balm is a nice consistency, fairly runny, so it’s easy to apply. Also, a little goes a long way so I can see it lasting a long while, and the pump dispenser prevents you from wasting the product.”
JOINT SILVER – FIRST DAYS MATERNITY SUPPLIES 100% NATURAL NIPPLE BALM, £16.95
Why it’s a winner: The Natural Nipple Balm’s vegan-friendly ingredients and effectiveness made this a clear winner with our home testers. They found it worked very well on sore nipples and on other chapped skin. They loved the fact that this product was a multi-tasker, useful for well beyond the breastfeeding months. Produced in the UK and presented in a reusable tin, this is also an environmentally friendly product, which will appeal to many new parents.
Tester Sandra, mum of 3, says: “It works wonders for sore nipples, and a little goes a long way so it’s totally worth it. The balm is of very high quality, the texture of the balm is silky, creamy and rich and feels so luxurious. The packaging is also gorgeous.”
JOINT SILVER – JEUNVIE ESSENTIAL VIE NIPPLE CREAM, £12.99
Why it’s a winner: This vegan-friendly product got full marks for effectiveness. Our home testers reported well soothed skin and were very keen to recommend this Essential Vie Nipple Cream to their friends. The brand is built around making vegan, hypoallergenic and eco-friendly products for mums and babies, and the ingredients are organic too.
Tester Natasha, mum of 1, says: “This is a great product that I will be recommending to friends. Although plain in appearance, there is nothing mundane about the balm. It feels very luxurious on your skin and keeps the sensitive skin of your nipples moisturised, supporting your body’s natural healing process.”
BRONZE – LOLA&LYKKE CURVED BAMBOO NURSING PADS, £12.90 for 2 pairs
Why it’s a winner: These nursing pads are the perfect product for the eco-conscious nursing mum. They are well designed, with soft, yet absorbent fabric, much more comfortable than some of the disposable pads on the market. Our home testers felt the pads were comfortable and prevented leaks well, and very easy to wash for re-use.
Tester Danielle, mum of 1, says: “These nursing pads are very appealing in that they are reusable and cost effective. They use good quality materials, are soft against the skin and very good at preventing leaks.”
Finalists: Nessa Organics Nipple SOS
Key features we tested/judged – quality, comfort/fit, accessibility, ease of use, value for money, sizing
GOLD – STYLISH MUM BREASTFEEDING HOODIE AND MATCHING BABY HOODIE, £32.99 & £14.99
Why it’s a winner: A comfortable hoodie is often the go-to for busy mothers, so to have it in a breast-feeding design makes a practical and cosy winner in this category. The shape and colours of the Stylish Mum hoodie are flattering and fun, and the access for baby won over our home testers – they loved the discreet breastfeeding it allowed.
Tester Toni, mum of 2, says: “I love how I can wear something that I would usually wear and still be able to comfortably feed my baby. I really like the discreet design and the choice of colours, and I absolutely love the matching baby hoodie.”
Available from: Stylish Mum
SILVER – THE BSHIRT LIFT THE FLAP, £27.99
Why it’s a winner: This longsleeved t-shirt was a clear winner on quality. MFM Awards home testers loved the organic GOTS certified cotton fabric, as well as the cut of the t-shirt, much preferring it to other breastfeeding tops. Best of all, the feeding access is super practical, reported our testers. Made to last, we felt the Bshirt will see mothers through a number of breastfed babies, and hundreds of washes.
Tester Emily, mum of 1, says: “The Bshirt is really easy to nurse in, there are no difficult hooks other bits to manoeuvre. It’s perfectly cut to just latch your baby on and go!I also like the excellent material and it washes wonderfully.”
BRONZE – JUNO JACK’S THE LOLA BREASTFEEDING HOODIE, £32.99
Why it’s a winner: The Lola hoodie impressed with its super soft fabric and easy access zips. Home testers loved the style of the hoodie and the zips for breastfeeding, as well as the zips to allow for extra room for post-baby hips. Something as simple as the right length scored massively with our judges, and the super soft fleece inner and equally soft outer fabric were a winning combination.
Tester Elizabeth, mum of 3, says: “I cannot emphasise enough what lovely quality this hoodie is! It is lovely soft, stretchy, thick fabric. The ‘Lola’ is a great hoodie that looks perfect with jeans or leggings. The variety of colours is fantastic. Takes the stress out of breastfeeding on the go, and would definitely be a confidence booster for a new mum who maybe felt a little reluctant feeding in public.”
Key features we tested/judged – effectiveness, ease of use, value for money, quality
GOLD – MAM UK EASY START BOTTLE SET LARGE, £65
Why it’s a winner: The Easy Start bottles from MAM pack a punch as they offer an anti-colic vented system, can be self-sterilised in the microwave and transformed into a toddler cup as the child grows. Most importantly, they boast a 94% teat acceptance rate, and MFM Awards judge Jade Powell, who is an experienced maternity nurse, confirmed that she has yet to meet a baby who doesn’t like these bottles. Our testers also praised the value for money of this large starter set of 6 bottles, different teats and accessories, as it provides everything parents need in terms of bottle feeding, and lasts well into toddlerhood.
Tester Stevie, mum of 1, says: “I love these bottles! They have really helped with my baby’s wind and reflux. Other bottles I’ve used have been no good for him. They are also easy to use, clean and sterilise. These are the only bottles I will use now.”
SILVER – TOMMEE TIPPEE CLOSER TO NATURE, from £13.49
Why it’s a winner: The Closer to Nature bottle from hugely trusted brand Tommee Tippee is shaped to feel more like a breast, making it easier for the baby to latch. The silicone nipple also mimics the natural breastfeeding action, and the bottle’s shape makes it very comfortable to hold. Our testers reported great success with this bottle, with their babies clearly preferring Closer to Nature to other brands they had used.
Tester Meghan, mum of 2, says: “I love the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles – they are the only ones my 5-month-old daughter will drink from. I will definitely recommend these bottles to friends.”
JOINT BRONZE – HABERMAN SUCKLE FEEDER, £7.50
Why it’s a winner: The Suckle Feeder stood out from the crowd with its innovative new approach to bottle feeding, designed to eliminate any air bubbles and reduce the chance of reflux and colic. MFM judge and maternity nurse Jade Powell believes this bottle is great for breastfeeding mums as it allows them to establish consistency between bottle and breast. Our testers also liked that the bottle was so easy to assemble – you can click all elements together with one hand.
Tester Millie, mum of 1, says: “My daughter is combination breast- and bottle-fed and would guzzle her bottle previously. With the Haberman Suckle Feeder I adjust the flow and she is much slower to take the bottle.
JOINT BRONZE – NUBY REDUCE REFLUX BOTTLE, £7.49
Why it’s a winner: The Reduce Reflux bottle promises to help reflux-prone babies by promoting a more upright feeding position and encouraging a slower suckling action – and our home testers did report improvement in reflux symptoms. We also liked the fact that one your little one is over reflux, you can also remove the weighted straw that regulates the flow to turn it into a standard bottle.
Tester Fiona, mum of 1, says: “Well made and easy clean straw brush really help to keep it clean throughly.”
Finalists: Vital Baby Nurture breast like feeding bottle
GOLD – LABELISTAS, £8.99 for 2 bands
Why it’s a winner: We were really impressed with these personalised silicone label bands, which offer a simple way to keep tabs on your child’s bottles, from baby years to school days. Proving that a simple, well executed idea can produce a winning formula, the Labelistas convinced our judges with their functionality and charming style. Designed by mothers fed-up with smudged pen marks and peeling stickers, the labels are reusable, washable and long-lasting – and already being recommended to friends by our home testers. As well as being practical, we thought they were good value.
Tester Mariana, mum of 1, says: “This is a very effective product and it delivers what it promises. The personalised name is clear and the colours are bright. These bands are very easy to use and stretch to fit on all kinds of bottles. After a month using them they are still exactly the same, as the quality is really good.”
SILVER – TOMMEE TIPPEE PERFECT PREP DAY & NIGHT, £130
Why it’s a winner: Being able to prepare a bottle at the perfect temperature in 2 minutes is what makes this product so popular with parents – and our judges. The new model features some additional functions that make night feeds less disruptive, and our MFM home testers certainly appreciated this snazzy prep machine, with one branding it the “absolute must-have” for bottle feeding parents.
Tester Elizabeth, mum of 1, says: “The prep machine is incredibly easy to use, considering that bottle feeding involves so much measuring, testing and accuracy. The machine really takes the pressure off tired parents!”
Read full review of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Day & Night
Key features we tested/judged – ease of use, value for money, quality, effectiveness, capacity, versatility
GOLD – VITAL BABY NURTURE PRO UV STERILISER & DRYER, £119.99
Why it’s a winner: The Vital Baby steriliser has revolutionised its category in one fell swoop. With its UV light approach to sterilising baby bottles (and other kids and parent items, such as teethers, toys and even phones), it totally transforms the way you combat bacteria and viruses. Our judges were amazed by this innovative product, its functionality and how easy it was to use. They agreed that the product was perfectly thought out and totally removed the hassle from sterilising numerous products – no more awkward drying racks or transferring bottles to fridges. It was a clear winner.
Tester Carla, mum of 1 , says: “This product is one of the easiest to use and doubles up as a sterile storage. It’s efficient and effective. It offers an alternative sterilising method that’s not as well known as the traditional chemical, liquid, heat or steam, but I would argue is more effective. A very high quality product that looks great – it’s not something you’d need to hide away in a cupboard.”
SILVER – MAM ELECTRIC STERILISER & EXPRESS BOTTLE WARMER, £90
Why it’s a winner: Not only does this product sterilise your baby’s bottles, it can defrost and heat milk or formula for a feed, keep made-up bottles warm and be used as a microwave steriliser on the go. This multi-functionality impressed the judges immensely, they all thought this made the product great value for money. Its compact design was also noted and much appreciated.
Tester Karen, mum of 1, says: “I love this steriliser. It is compact, but allows me to sterilise more bottles than other sterilisers I own. It is great quality, 3-in1, takes up less space and is perfect for travelling.”
BRONZE – BABYMOOV TURBO PURE 2-IN-1 STERILISER/DRYER, £79.99
Why it’s a winner: The Babymoov Turbo’s 2-in-1 drying function is what won over our judges during testing. Especially testers who have to get through numerous bottles a day appreciated not having the extra drying step when preparing their babies’ bottles.The steriliser is also a practical storage unit, as it allows bottles to be stored up to 24 hours.
Tester Neve, mum of 3, says: “I love the drying function! Good bye, wet bottles. Although this seems like something trivial, it is brilliant. This is something that really stands out from other sterilisers. I also like the look of the Babymoov – it looks smart on the kitchen side.”
Finalist: Tommee Tippee Advanced Electric Steriliser and Dryer
The MadeForMums Awards team is led by Editorial Director Susie Boone and Consumer & Reviews Editor Christy McGhee and comprises Janet Martin, Melanie Grant, Sonali Hindmarch, Anna Richardson Taylor, Jenny Yu, Sabrina Sahota, Natalie Brown, Bethan Jenkins, Tara Breathnach and Helen Brown, who have created, written and edited these pages after rigorous testing and judging.