Some products are absolute must-haves when it comes to parenting a young family, so we’ve singled out some of the best everyday and essential buys and trusted brands that we think you’ll find extra-useful.
In all these categories, our team of at-home parent testers and MadeForMums judges looked for products that really earned their place in the family home by offering usefulness, effectiveness and value. Innovation, sustainability and technological features were also on our judging ticklist for many of these products.
Can’t live without parenting product
Key features we tested/judged – value for money, quality of product, effectiveness, usefulness, ease of use and appeal to parents
GOLD – TOMMEE TIPPEE PERFECT PREP DAY & NIGHT, £130
Why it’s a winner: Testers agreed that this is an absolute must-have for bottle feeding parents, giving them real peace of mind when preparing formula. This clever machine prepares a bottle in just 2 minutes at the exact right temperature, perfect for anyone who is dealing with a screaming, hungry baby or simply short on time. The clear and “slick” digital display meant it was easy to use, even when blurry eyed during the night feed, and the anti-bacterial filter means water can be used direct from the tap. It was easy to set up and use, and we felt it was well worth the money when used regularly.
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!
SILVER – MAM NIGHT 0+ SOOTHER, £6.39
Why it’s a winner: These MAM Night 0+ Soothers picked up points for being skin friendly, thanks to the large air holes and unique MAM dimples on the inside, and testers loved the glow-in-the-dark feature, meaning no more groping around half asleep in the dark trying to find a soother dropped by the baby. We found the silky soft symmetric silicone teat means it is always in the right position and it even comes in a self-sterilising travel box so it can be sterilised when out and about. Well made, cute designs and value for money, judges agreed this is definitely a ‘can’t live without’ product.
Tester Charlene, mum of 1 says: “Very effective. My son loves these soothers”.
JOINT BRONZE – ANNABEL KARMEL’S NEW COMPLETE BABY & TODDLER MEAL PLANNER, £14.99
Why it’s a winner: Weaning can often feel like a daunting task, but parents found this handy planner, with 200+ recipes, a really helpful way in. Judges also thought it was beautifully produced, with a quality hardback finish, and loved the fact that toddler meals were also included. Testers particularly loved the easy-to-follow meal planners to help plan ahead.
Tester Sarah, mum of 1 says: “This book is the weaning bible. I highly recommend it to any parents starting out weaning or even if they have been on a weaning journey for a while. The recipes in this book are easy to follow and easy to execute.”
JOINT BRONZE – SOCKATOOS, £22.99 – £26.99
Why it’s a winner: Our parent testers were thrilled with this simple idea – socks are securely built into the 100% cotton trousers so they can never be lost. Judges found the trousers stayed in position all day, and really rated the overall quality of the garment. The socks also have a non-slip grip making them perfect for soft play and hard floors and we loved the thoughtful features like a drawstring waist to keep them up, and matching trims.
Tester Ruth, mum of 2 says: “I like how well made this product is.”
Finalist: Ashton & Parsons Teething Powders
Everyday parenting essential
Key features we tested/judged – value for money, quality, effectiveness, day-to-day usefulness, ease of use
JOINT GOLD – SKIP HOP SILVER LINING CLOUD 2-IN-1 ACTIVITY FLOOR SEAT, £50
Why it’s a winner: This sturdy, seat scored highly on design, quality and value for money, with parents finding the colourful toys were easy for their little testers to grab and gave plenty of entertainment. It was easy to put together, and use, and our testers really appreciated the fact the toys and tray can be rotated with one hand. We also liked the fact the soft cover is machine-washable and easy to clean.
Tester Jenny, mum of 3, says: “Really love the look and feel of this product. Can see it keeping baby entertained while parent gets on with chores.”
JOINT GOLD – BABYBOO DRIBBLEBOO BANDANA BIB, £5
Why it’s a winner: Beautiful designs, soft and super absorbent thanks to the 3 layers (including an inner fleece layer), judges felt these bibs are a must for a drooling, teething or reflux baby. We thought the fabric was good quality, and reasonably priced, and the eye-catching designs drew their share of compliments. Testers found the outer 100% cotton layers to be very absorbent and much more suitable for delicate and sensitive skin than plastic backed bibs.
Tester Jo, mum of 2, says: “This bib is amazing, my baby sufferers from dry skin under the chin from teething and this bib has helped it allow time to heal, also has stopped his clothes getting soaked through.”
Available to buy from Babyboo
SILVER – BABY UMA PREMIUM LEATHER STYLE BUGGY CLIPS BY BABY UMA (2 Pack), £8.99
Why it’s a winner: Our testers loved how easy to use, well-made, sturdy and stylish these buggy clips are. They made a smart addition to our testers buggies, with a classy faux leather buggy design, and our parents were impressed by their ability to handle 5kg of weight with ease. They also liked the way the super-strong Velcro fastenings stayed in place without marking the pram’s chassis.
Content editor and mum of 1 Tara, says: “Handy if you need to put lots of bags on your buggy, and well priced.”
BRONZE – THUMBLE BABY CARE BABY NAILS NEW BABY PACK, £10.49
Why it’s a winner: Cutting a newborn’s delicate nails is always nerve-wracking, so these clever nail files really appealed to our parent testers. They felt the unique wearable baby nail file felt a much safer and easier to use alternative than nail scissors or clippers, allowing them to gently trim their baby’s nails without worrying about sharp edges getting in the way. Judges also rated the drawstring pouch, handy for keeping all the parts in one place. It also scored points for its generous sizing, meaning it can be comfortably be used by a variety of adults’ nail sizes and shapes.
Tester Sophie, mum of 1, says: “The thumble is an amazing invention. It allows you to comfortably and gently file baby’s nails whilst they’re sleeping, feeding or just enjoying a cuddle. All without worrying that you’re going to hurt your precious newborn.”
Finalists: Kleynimals Baby Rattle | Mummy Loves Organics Little Ones Essential Oil Blends for Children
Innovation of the year
Key features we tested/judged – innovation, quality and effectiveness of design, value for money, usefulness to parents
JOINT GOLD – CYBEX E.PRIAM, £1199.90
Why it’s a winner: With its headline-worthy ‘the buggy that walks itself’ feature, Cybex’s e-Priam certainly created a stir in the pushchair market this year. Our parent testers enjoyed the unique handlebar sensors which respond to uphill or downhill pressure, meaning the pram’s integrated motor kicks in and ‘levels’ the road. They found it made pounding the pavements easier and really took the struggle out of tricky terrain. Our judges also feel it works well as a buggy in its own right, offering both themselves and their babies a smooth and comfy ride, as well as being easy to fold with a well-designed basket and hood. It’s not cheap but, even so, our judges felt it was good value for money.
Tester Lianne, mum of 3, says: “Excellent in every way. The battery is amazing. It’s so smooth to push and very comfy for my son – he loves it. This is by far the best pushchair I’ve ever pushed! It’s very easy to fold and I love how the basket unfolds for more space.”
JOINT GOLD – NUBY UV DUMMY STERILISER, £14.99
Why it’s a winner: This simple but effective device proved to be a hit with our parents on the go, using the chemical and water benefits of UV technology to sterilise a dummy in just 3 minutes. It gained full marks from our home testers, who only wished it had been invented sooner! They loved how easy it was to use, taking the stress out of moments when your dummy gets dropped or grubby, and felt it soon became an everyday essential. Our judges also liked the fact it has room for any dummy, and comes with a USB as well as a battery option, for easy charging.
Tester Charlene, mum of 1, says: “It’s very effective and so easy to use. I did not know about this product until I had to judge it and I really wish I’d had it for when my baby was a newborn – it’s a lifesaver. Reasonably priced, great quality, and I love how it also has a handle.”
SILVER – OWLET SMART SOCK, £269
Why it’s a winner: Our judges loved the idea of this unusual monitor, which tracks a baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels by connecting a Smart Sock (wrapped around baby’s foot) with the Owlet app and base station. Once set up, the app was easy to use, clearly showing information to our parent testers, who also found the monitoring sock comfortable for their little ones to wear. Our GP judge felt it was a great product for parents looking for a monitor similar to those used by hospitals.
Tester Paulina, mum of 1, says: “It’s a very good quality monitor. I like how it works: everything shows clearly in the app and, after set up, it is very easy in use. My daughter didn’t even notice she was wearing something on her feet.”
BRONZE – THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY DIGITAL PACK, £39
Why it’s a winner: Our judges felt this easy-to-use online course was a great (and economical) alternative to live hypnobirthing classes. Parent testers said it helped them feel ‘enlightened’, ‘empowered’ and able to ‘take control’ of the process as much as they can, as well as rethinking negative language around labour. The videos are friendly without being patronising, pairing “mindfulness aspects of achieving a positive birth with the science of labour.” And the course notes and infant feeding guide also impressed. Judges also liked the way it encourages birth partner participation to make it more of a shared experience.
Tester Annaliese says: “The course is very user-friendly and simple to navigate, with the ability to move between modules with ease. It packages everything together neatly, losing the ‘fluff’ around hypnobirthing to focus on the science, as well as proven techniques for achieving the best labour experience.”
Finalists: Buggybee | HottMitt | Minimello Organic cotton bedding set – Mint Dinosaurs, Toddler size
Parenting brand of the year
Key features we tested/judged – quality, range & effectiveness of products, value for money, appeal to parents
JOINT GOLD – ALDI MAMIA
Why it’s a winner: It started out as a nappy brand, but Aldi Mamia’s budget-friendly range has grown up and out – and this year shone in a number of categories. Our judges felt the brand’s food range in particular, with its handy baby food pouches which “go down a treat” and “satisfying”, “good value” snacks, make it a worthy winner. Testers also loved the range of nappies and wipes, with Extra Sensitive Baby Wipes and Biodegradable Baby Wipes performing well in our tests.
Tester Christy, MFM Consumer & Reviews Editor and mum of 2 says: “Mamia had very strong entries in the nappy and wipes categories, and also really shone in some of the food categories. A great brand for parents who want quality for a very reasonable price.”
JOINT GOLD – SILVER CROSS
Why it’s a winner: Over 140 years old but still branching out into new territory, the past year or so has seen Silver Cross launch 4 new car seats, all of which have gone down well with our parent reviewers, as well as its first babywear collection.
Added to its already strong collection of pushchairs, strollers and nursery furniture, our judges felt the brand’s high quality and stylish designs made it a deserving joint gold winner.
In particular, its latest pushchair, the Pacific Autograph, impressed our parent testers in the Travel System category, who raved about its good looks, easy fold and excellent all-terrain manoeuvrability.
MadeForMums Editorial Director and mum of 3, Susie, says: “Silver Cross offer trust, reliability and incredible quality. Always sticklers for detail, each Silver Cross product is crafted, whether it’s a bamboo-lined travel system or a soft bloomer dungaree set.”
SILVER – ANNABEL KARMEL
Why it’s a winner: Many of our judges were familiar with the weaning queen’s expertise when it comes to helping parents create their own baby and toddler meals from scratch. But the range of 7 tasty Chilled Meals for Toddlers and Children set the brand apart from other food-themed products this year. Some of them were so appealing our parents enjoyed a taste themselves, commenting “I couldn’t resist trying a little bite of each one – the chicken tikka in particular was lovely” and “I loved it, baby enjoyed it – very appealing”.
Tester Melanie Grant, mum of 3 says: “A wonderful range of meals to suit everyone’s palette. I would think even a fussy eater can find something they like.”
Finalists: Bamboo Bamboo | The Positive Birth Company | Venture UK
BRONZE – TOMMEE TIPPEE
Why it’s a winner: A firmly established household name when it comes to parenting products, Tommee Tippee has grown its collection to offer new innovations in recent years.
The range includes changing, feeding, sleep and nursery products, with standout launches such as the Sleepee Moses Basket and the incorporation of The Gro Company.
Judges were really impressed by a number of strong entries from the brand in the 2020 awards, from longstanding favourites such as the Closer To Nature bottles, to new ideas such as a no-knock toddler cup.
Adding a nightlight function to the hugely popular Perfect Prep for example also confirmed the brand’s commitment to improving its offering.
Tester Christy, MFM Consumer & Reviews Editor and mum of 2, says: “Tommee Tippee products are a staple feature in many parents’ homes, so it’s great to see the brand continue to grow, both developing and improving its existing products and launching thoughtfully designed new ones.”
Finalist: bamboo bamboo | The Positive Birth Company Digital Pack | Venture UK
Key features we tested/judged – ease of use, appeal to parents, value for money, quality of product and effectiveness
GOLD – TOTBOTS EASYFIT STAR REUSABLE NAPPY,£17.99
Why it’s a winner: Totbots reusable nappies really got our testers rethinking their use of throwaway, landfill nappies. They were really inspired when they found out that Totbots were made from 100% recycled waterproof fabric made from plastic bottles – which is an impressive world first. They also found they were soft, comfortable, a good fit and the Velcro straps were easy to use. Akin to that of a disposable, only with much more colour. Our testers were also heartened that the quality of this “vibrant and colourful” nappy wasn’t compromised for its ethics either. They also found the absorption of these nappies was good, with one of our testers saying, “they lasted [her] 3 hours,” and “I didn’t have any leaks.”
Judge Helen, mum of 3, says: “I love these. Brilliant to see recyclable reusables. Nice and soft with fun designs.”
SILVER – WHIRLI, £9.99 – £29.99
Why it’s a winner: Our judges thought toy subscription service Whirli is a great concept for parents who are short on space and/or a budget. They also felt it was perfect choice for many types of carer, from grandparents to childminders. Being able to access a wide range of toys without the clutter or waste was most appreciated by our testers. One of our testers said it was helping her discover her son’s broad range of interests – “You can’t buy every genre of toy, but with Whirli, you can really test the water.” We were also impressed with the range of toys available for children from 0-7 years old, covering inside and outside toys, big and small toys, plastic and wooden toys, books, interactive and cuddly toys.
Tester Charlotte, mum of 1, says: “Fantastic. To have a service that caters to the specific whims of an individual child is incredibly unique. You can order from your smartphone and the toys are delivered to your door. It makes such environmental sense.”
BRONZE – WELEDA CALENDULA BODY LOTION, £10.95
Why it’s a winner: Weleda is a trusted brand our testers love and Calendula Body Lotion is no exception. Our judges thought it was a good moisturiser and found it smelled fresh and appealing. And while it was greasy this cream wasn’t terribly sticky, and our testers said it left skin feeling smooth. They were also happy to know they were putting something free of chemicals with sustainably-sourced organic ingredients on baby’s skin. The fact it’s made from recycled materials and the bottle is recyclable was a plus too.
Tester, Lisa Mum of 2, says; “My son suffers with very bad eczema and dry skin – it did leave his skin feeling soft and moisturised.”
Finalist: Rex London | Dalin
Technology product for babies & families
Key features we tested/judged: ease of use, tech quality, appeal to parents/children, usefulness, value for money
GOLD – FREYA: THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY APP, £2.99
Why it’s a winner: Billed as “the world’s 1st hypnobirthing-friendly virtual birth partner”, this Android and iPhone app has a surge timer that coaches you gently through your contractions and keeps track of their frequency and how long they’re lasting. It wowed our testers, who pointed out that it even suggests when it might be the right moment to call your midwife! It also has relaxation tracks, with an incredibly calming voice that guides you through visualisations and meditations – which our heavily pregnant testers really rated.
Tester Kelly, mum of 1 says: “This is absolutely effective. It left me in a calm and relaxed state after listening to it. I will definitely be using it when I go into labour”
SILVER – ANNABEL KARMEL’S BABY & TODDLER RECIPE APP, £3.99
Why it’s a winner: Annabel Karmel is basically the Delia Smith of children’s food, and this Android and iPhone app is stuffed with over 350 of her tasty, failsafe baby and toddler recipes. We love the great pictures and the screen-lock function that freezes your screen so your phone or tablet doesn’t time out while you’re cooking. And our testers rated the meal planning feature and how easily you can search for age-appropriate recipes.
Tester Kiera, mum of 1 says: “An absolute bargain, if you ask me. You have so many difference recipes at the tip of your fingertips, and they are realistic and easy to cook too. Perfect for parents!”
BRONZE – NOISY BOOK, FREE
Why it’s a winner: This iPhone/iPad-only app uses voice-recognition technology to magically add sound effects to the story book you’re reading out loud. So, when you read ‘raining’, you and your child will hear the sound of falling rain. The sound effects don’t work for every word you’d expect but it’s great fun – as our testers’ children all enthusiastically agreed. If you make up a story, the app will also transcribe your words (with sound effects) and save it for later (if you want to save more than 1 of these, you can, with an in-app purchase). Judges thought the app was wellmade, bright and appealing for children.
Tester Zahrah, mum of 5 says: “This makes reading a fun family experience. My younger 2 really enjoyed using it”
The MadeForMums Awards team is led by Reviews Editor Christy McGhee and Editorial Director Susie Boone and comprises Janet Martin, Melanie Grant, Sonali Hindmarch, Anna Richardson Taylor, Jenny Yu, Sabrina Sahota, Natalie Brown, Tara Breathnach and Helen Brown, who have created, written and edited these pages after rigorous testing and judging.