MFM Awards 2021 Winners – Editor’s Choice Awards
Special Editor's Choice awards, highlighting innovative and unusual parenting products from the MadeForMums Awards 2021.
This year's MadeForMums Awards span a whopping 99 categories, with over 1000 individual product entries. As you can imagine, choosing those final winners was trickier than ever.
Our home testers really put the products through their paces to give us amazing feedback, but we also looked closely at every entry as editors, too. Our judging criteria for each category differs, but it does mean that sometimes products we really loved didn't end up receiving a gold, silver or bronze award.
We often found ourselves torn on certain products: those that didn't quite fit into their category perfectly; those that have a specific application that's perfect for some people but not right for everyone, or those entered into very very wide categories that risked getting lost against big-name competition.
We felt these products deserved a mention, so we're introducing our Editor's Choice awards. These picks, chosen especially by the MadeForMums team, include everything from baby carriers to baby wipes, and represent the innovative and exciting products we couldn't stop thinking about.
The Shnuggle Air Beside Crib, £199
Original category: Bedside crib/co-sleeper
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Why it’s an Editor's Choice: While judging this category, we looked closely at how brands have tackled new safety regulations regarding drop-down sides. Most have been redesigned for safe overnight co-sleeping, but the zip-down side on the Shnuggle Air is still best used only for quick access when you need to reach your baby. Thankfully, many parents prefer the safety of a standalone bedside crib and, as that, it does an incredible job.
It's also the only newborn crib we tested that's designed to grow with your baby, with the ability to convert it into a full-sized cot using an extension kit. This not only gives it longevity, it also helps your baby transition to the cot a seamlessly as possible (and saves on storage space). Our testers really loved the Shnuggle Air, in fact Jody, mum of 3, described it as "one of the best products that I have used", while Stephanie, mum of a newborn, said, "the mattress was the best mattress we have tried so far".
Although it is not a co-sleeper in the traditional sense, it's undoubtedly stylish, unique in its category, and definitely worthy of your attention.
In the words of tester Jody, mum of 3: "From opening the packaging I could tell the crib was well made and good quality. Once assembled, the crib has a beautiful and stylish look that will complement any bedroom. The crib is spacious, so has plenty of growing room and also has tilt features… Overall, a fantastic crib and amazing value for the features and quality."
Graco Near 2 Me, £250
Original category: Newborn pram/pushchair under £600
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: If pushchairs have trends, this represents one of 2021's biggest: the ability to keep your baby extra close. The 'Slide2Me' feature allows you to move the seat to 1 of 3 positions, with the highest keeping them easily in your eye line while in parent-facing mode. During a period of upheaval and uncertainty when new parents have wanted to keep their newborns closer than ever, this is a welcome addition.
However, this pushchair performs in other ways, too. Parents loved the ample storage, with Humma, mum of 2, saying, "The basket is one of the best features for me." It also has a seat unit that's suitable from birth (when used fully reclined) so parents don't need to purchase the additional carrycot if they don't want to. Overall, it represents truly great value, with an innovative feature that helps you feel safe and secure while out with a young baby.
In the words of tester Jaya, mum of a baby and a toddler: "It is genius what Graco have manufactured here: a stylish, comfortable, height-adjustable pushchair to keep little ones as close as possible when out and about. I am very impressed with this technology, as well as many other user-friendly features that it boasts, such as the large storage basket, luxury waterproof footmuff and large hood which can fully cover baby in rain or during nap-time."
Hippychick Hipseat, £39.95
Original category: Can't live without parenting product
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: In a crowded and competitive category, this stood out as one of those parenting products you never knew you needed until you tried it. The innovative design gives you a quick and easy way to hold your child safely while reducing the strain on your back.
While there are traditional baby carriers that work through the toddler years and beyond (see the Tula Pre-School, below), some older children really resent being strapped in. This offers the best of both worlds: strap on the padded belt, rest your child’s bottom on the integrated 'seat' and keep one arm securely around their body to hold them in place. They feel like they have room to move about, but you get some support. It's suitable from 6 months but really comes into its own when your baby becomes too heavy to hold for longer than a few minutes. As the parent of a big 15-month-old myself, this has become a must-have for me, and our home testers had similar feelings.
In the words of tester Alex, mum of 2: "This product came at just the right time! My 18-month-old is too old for a carrier and is very heavy but can often be clingy and wants carrying around the house. This definitely took the strain off my hips and back and meant I could carry him for longer."
Children's Weighted Blankets by The Little Blanket Shop, from £89
Original category: Night-time comforter/sleep aid
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: Weighted blankets have been used by medical professionals as a tool for treating people with sensory processing disorders for some time, but more recently they've hit the market for home use and been adopted by those who are anxious, stressed or just in need of the comforting 'hug' they provide.
The Little Blanket Shop has done a beautiful job creating a children's weighted blanket that feels luxurious, soft and comforting, with beautiful attention to detail and top-notch fabrics. It could provide a little help to parents of children who struggle with sensory issues, anxiety, or sleep problems. Our testers gave this shining reviews and top marks across the board and it's easy to see why. However, it's important to note that this blanket is not suitable for children under 3. For older children, we'd also suggest you speak to your doctor or occupational therapist for advice before purchase.
In the words of tester Ann-Marie, mum of a child with ASD / ADHD: "My son has been so restful using this. During lockdown, we have been able to test its effectiveness during the day. It works amazingly to relax my very restless child during Zoom classes. Even staff have commented on how chilled my boy is!"
Buy from: The Little Blanket Shop
Bumbo Booster Seat, £48.50
Original category: Booster seat
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: Most of the booster seats we judged were suitable from the beginning of weaning. This is slightly different as it's designed for 18 months and beyond, when you're ready to forgo the back support and shoulder harness. As such, it's a great choice for parents who used a traditional high chair in the early stages, but would now like to move on to something less bulky.
The Bumbo Booster seat is made from a low-density foam that makes it far more lightweight and comfortable than it looks in photos. It weighs barely anything, so, while it doesn't fold down, it would still be easy to slip into the car or pushchair to take on day trips if needed, and when it's fastened to a dining chair, it’ll blend in far better with your kitchen décor than a high chair. Parents love the ease of use and cleaning, and kids love the soft, cushiony foam and the feeling of being 'all grown up'.
In the words of tester Jordan, mum of 20-month-old twins: "BUY IT! The Bumbo Booster seat has changed my mealtime stress in literally a few short days. If you've ever had to struggle keeping a toddler still and sitting at the table at mealtimes, this booster seat is the one to get. I'm sure it gives my son a sense of maturity to be sat at the table with his family instead of being sat higher up than everyone else in his high chair."
Tula preschool carrier, £129.90
Original category: Baby carrier over £100
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: Who said babywearing has to stop once you hit the toddler years? If you and your child love the ease, convenience and closeness of carrying, this extended-wear carrier is designed to hold them from the time they weigh 35lbs (15.9kg) right up to 70lbs (31.7kg). It's designed with a wider seat and sides to support a growing child, but apart from that it's just like a regular structured carrier, with adjustable shoulder straps and a supportive deep waist panel. You can wear your child on your front or back, although at this age it's not safe for them to face outwards on your front.
While extended carrying isn't for everyone, if can offer a really convenient solution in some circumstances: especially if you have a child who's addicted to piggy backs or cuddles. Babywearing expert Hannah Wallace described it as a, "really good carrier for extended carrying of bigger kids, offering something new and important to the market".
In the words of tester Rachael, mum of 1: "I haven't used my stroller since I've had it on test... My preschooler loves it, says he's super comfy and calls it the 'carry cuddle'!"
ManiMe Valet Chair, £99
Original category: Sustainable/eco-friendly product for families
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: This adorable chair, made from sustainable bamboo, is more than just a sweet addition to a nursery or child's bedroom. Available in two sizes and four sweet animal designs, it's been created to hold a child's clothes, with holes and hooks designed for different garments and shoulders the same width as a child's coat hanger. Use it to choose an outfit the night before, use it to photograph your child's cutest outfits for Instagram (go on, you know you want to) or use it to help your little one keep track of their school uniform.
Our testers felt that, given the price, this is a luxury indulgence rather than a must-have, but whether you're looking for an incredible gift that will last a family for years to come, or wracking your brains to find a way to keep an untidy child's bedroom organised, this is definitely worthy of your attention.
In the words of tester Rachael, mum of 4: "I think that ManiMe is a lovely product, it looks lovely in my son's bedroom and I love that it encourages his independence. It's especially good for a school starter, to promote getting themselves dressed in the mornings. I love that I can organise with my son the night before, choosing what he will be wearing together."
Buy from: ManiMe
Squish Balance/The Bike Club, from £5 per month
Original category: Toddler and kids' bike
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: While the other bikes in its category need to be purchased outright, The Bike Club offers a subscription service that gives parents the opportunity to rent children's bikes (or scooters) instead, exchanging and upgrading when their child is ready to move up to the next size. The service goes right from first bikes and balance bikes to teenager's mountain bikes.
Not only is it a more sustainable way to get your child on the move, it offers a cost-effective way to try some of the best bikes in the business. Our testers tried the Squish balance bike, which Lowri, mum of a 3-year-old described as "a practical bike perfect for first steps into the cycling world". Other brands on offer include Micro, Strider and Isla.
In the words of tester Davina, mum of a 2-year-old: "I love the idea of a bike subscription. Bikes can be expensive so spreading out the cost and not having the inconvenience of buying a new one every time the child outgrows the bike (and getting rid of the old one!) is a no-brainer for me."
Splash About Happy Nappy Sunsuit, £22.99
Original category: Baby and child swimwear
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: Splash About's innovative swimwear designs were a huge hit with our testers and we were really impressed by this 2-in-1 style, which is brilliant for very young babies who can't wear sunscreen, and older toddlers who love to splash about for hours.
Combining a rash vest with UPF50+ sun protection with a built in, leak-proof swim nappy, it offers peace of mind by protecting your baby or toddler's skin from the sun's harmful rays, while preventing any disastrous nappy leaks. In sizes from 0-24 months, our testers loved how soft the material was, and really raved about the stylish design and how it can be easily washed in the machine at 30°.
In the words of tester Ramona, mum of a 4-month-old: "It's such a great swimsuit, incorporating the swim nappy to save space in your bag, save time when you’re getting your baby changed and saving money too."
Colour Celebrations Milestone Cards, from £16
Original category: Newborn gift/baby keepsake
Why it’s an Editor's Choice: These adorable milestone cards are created specifically for black and mixed-ethnicity babies, with creator Deborah Ajaja spotting a gap in the market for a product like this that features more diverse imagery, and also includes cards for events like naming ceremonies and baby dedications that better represent the cultural backgrounds of these children.
Tester Samantha, mum of a 3-month-old, said, "I love the tips and information on the back of each card, this is really helpful and adds something extra to the pack." She added, "I would definitely recommend to friends and family of different ethnicities. It's nice to see there are more options."
In the words of tester Sharmina, mum of a 6-month-old: "We come from two different ethnic backgrounds so these cards really are well suited to us! I liked the concept and that it included certain cultural aspects too, such as the naming ceremony."
Beans&sparks club, £14.99
Original category: Subscription/gift box and services
Why it's an Editor's Choice: We saw so many lovely subscription products that it was impossible to award them all, but there's a special place in our hearts for this monthly book subscription for toddlers and preschoolers. You pick an avatar that looks like your child (there are over 40,000 combinations to choose from) and add their name, and over the next year they'll receive a book each month that's personalised to them.
The stories are based around the EASY framework: Emotions, Adventure, Science and creativitY, which aim to help your child with their development. Tester Rebecca, mum of 2, said, "The personalisation is lovely and really engages the children," while another tester was convinced they made bedtime easier.
In the words of tester Charlotte, mum of a 4-year-old: "They’re stunning, interesting and fun for kids. My little girl was obsessed with reading adventures about herself and seeing the picture that surprisingly looked similar to her."
Buy from: Beans&sparks
Personalised Kids Stuff Name Bands, £4.99
Original category: Everyday parenting essential
Why it's an Editor's Choice: A real "why didn't I think of this?" design, these bands fit over bottles, sippy cups and anything else cylindrical to help personalise them, so you no longer need to worry about finding waterproof labels or doing a DIY job with tape. They have so many uses: obviously they're great for sending to nursery or school, but they also work brilliantly for differentiating between similar cups at home, whether you have kids or different ages, twins or multiples. Each silicone band is BPA free +Phthalate free, dishwasher safe, and fully recyclable once it reaches the end of its life. You can choose your child's favourite colours and fonts, and personalised with a name or phrase, plus a little icon
In the words of tester Kimberley, mum of 2: "The product easily fitted my daughter's water bottles. It was easy to slip over a number of different sized bottles and they fitted them securely. I liked how I could add my daughter's name to her bottles without having to use a paper and Sellotape which previously looked tacky and often got wet."
Buy from: Personalised Kids Stuff
Tag Togs Washable wipes and matching wet bag, £25
Original category: Sustainable/eco-friendly product for babies
Why it's an Editor's Choice: Make the switch to reusable wipes, and never again will you find yourself struggling to hold down a dirty baby while you use one hand to try and get a wipe out of a packet, only to pull out 5 in one go. These sweet mini kits with a matching wet bag offer a really easy way to give reusable wipes a try, and they are enough to drag even the biggest non-believers over to the sustainable side.
The cute printed wipes are made from jersey cotton and backed with bamboo terry towelling, making them safe for both faces and bottoms. They may seem like a faff at first but they will quickly become one of your favourite baby buys, as they're softer, thicker, and far more pleasant for both you and your child. Yes, they need washing, but you'll be doing plenty of laundry with a baby anyway!
In the words of Emma, mum of 2: "My son kept rubbing his face on them they were that soft. I noticed they felt nice and thick which indicates they are of a good quality and will last for many clean up jobs and many children! We predominantly used them for nappy changes and found these were just the right size for most occasions, even some of the messier jobs. They also came in handy to clean up faces, hands and any spillages at meal times."
Buy from: Tag Togs
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