MFM Awards 2021 Winners – Lifestyle: travel, fashion, books, toys and gifts
Fantastic award-winning products tried and tested by families - highlighting the best lifestyle products including fashion, travel, books, toys and gifts
Our home testers and judges examined a wide variety of products in this category, keeping in mind the appeal of each entry to families with young children. Ranging from sleep-deprived parents hunting for the perfect travel cot to young readers exploring the stories entered into our books categories, our testers covered a whole host of both the practical and the thoughtful.
Testing criteria included ease of use and assembly for products such as travel cots and toys, and we also looked at the extra features and details that made them stand out. More specific examinations were applied to children fashion ranges, making sure swimsuits offered maximum UV protection and shoes were durable enough for even the most active kids
Regardless of the criteria, our team of judges scored carefully to ensure the best quality and value rose to the top.
Family travel product under £20
Key features we tested/judged: ease of use, travel-friendly features, design, product quality, durability, worth the money
Gold – Kandoo Aquas Travel Pack, £1.49
Ideal for at home or on the go, these wipes were easy to open and use, very good quality and not expensive
Why it’s a winner: Our mums were really impressed with these handy, travel-sized 99% water wipes, in particular how thick they were and how one wipe goes a long way. The fact that they are paediatrician-approved to use from birth and biodegradable – making them an eco-friendly choice – also got thumbs up all round. Working their magic on everything from cleaning up food mess to nappy changes, these great quality wipes offer excellent value for money. But what our testers loved the most was how easy it was to open and remove the wipes from the pack, even with one hand!
In the words of tester Shilpa, mum of 1: “With a 4-month-old, anything I can use single-handedly is a winner, and this product definitely was! A lovey, handy-sized set of wipes for all those ‘oops’ moments.”
Buy from: Amazon
Silver – Splash About New Happy Nappy, £10.99
Why it’s a winner: The updated version of this classic swim nappy was an instant hit with our judges. Suitable for use on its own, our mums loved how there was no need to buy disposable swim nappies, with this reusable design helping to save money and space in your suitcase when you’re on holiday, not to mention reducing waste. The neoprene fabric means the Happy Nappy fits nice and snug to prevent any leaks. It’s also super-quick drying, so just needs to be rinsed after each use. Designed to last between 3-6 months, it’s an excellent value buy.
In the words of tester Charlotte, mum of 2: “The designs are beautiful and the quality feels great. Considering the price you pay for disposable swim nappies, I’d be happy to pay this price for something you can use time and time again.”
Joint Bronze – My Busy Bots Fun Folder, £17.99
Why it’s a winner: Packed full of fun activities to help kids pass the time when travelling, our judges loved this screen-free solution to those cries of ‘I’m bored!’. With a choice of folders to suit children from 3-10 years old, including everything from sticker sheets, themed booklets and colouring pencils, these colourful and creative activity packs have plenty to keep the kids busy. We love the educational elements in each booklet, covering maths, handwriting and literacy, that will have your child learning as they play.
In the words of tester Gemma, mum of 2: “The colourful, unisex design of the zip-up folder is great and it’s so handy to have on car journeys. It’s small enough to put in a rucksack and there’s plenty to keep the kids busy.”
Buy from: My Busy Bots
Joint Bronze – Bambino Mio Wet Bag, £10.99
Why it’s a winner: We love this reusable wet bag for storing used cloth or disposable nappies, wet clothes or swimwear when you’re at the beach or heading home from a swimming class. A much greener, sustainable choice than disposable nappy bags or plastic carrier bags, this is compact enough to pop into your changing bag or hang from your pushchair, keeping the rest of your things dry – all while looking rather stylish in the process, thanks to the choice of 30 fun designs.
In the words of tester Sarah, mum of a 7-month-old: “This is a brilliant little bag that’s great quality and easy to use. It came in handy for swimming and is going to be perfect for sending dirty clothes home from nursery.”
Shortlisted: Ashton & Parsons Teething Gel
Family travel product over £20
Key features we tested/judged: Ease of use, travel friendly, design, product quality, durability, worth the money
Joint Gold – Grofriends Travel Sleep Aid, £24.99
A travel sleep aid that does what it’s designed to do – my baby fell asleep in the pushchair every time I put it on, even in noisy places
Why it’s a winner: Whether out and about exploring new places in the pushchair, driving on long car journeys, or settling your baby in an unfamiliar room at nap time, this travel-size sleep aid was hailed as a ‘lifesaver’ by our testers. Available in two cute designs, it can be attached to a pram, car seat or cot and plays a choice of 6 lullabies or sounds to help settle your baby – it’s even activated by the sound of your baby crying. Our testers loved the USB recharge function which lasted up to 10 hours, meaning there was no need to worry about having spare batteries on hand, and raved about its magical sleep-inducing powers.
In the words of tester Lucy, mum of a 4-month-old: “Without hesitation I would recommend this to any parents-to-be. The price point is fantastic for such a clever piece of technology. If it ever was to break, I’d be ordering another one in a heartbeat!”
Joint Gold – Splash About Happy Nappy Sunsuit, £22.99
Why it’s a winner: A day at the beach just got a whole lot easier, thanks to this genius all-in-one from Splash About. Combining a rash vest (complete 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.”
Silver – Purflo Cosy Wrap Travel Blanket, £39
Why it’s a winner: Finally, an answer to that age-old problem of trying to keep your baby safe and warm in their car seat or pushchair on chilly days. We know puffy winter coats are a big safety no-no when it comes to car seats and we’ve all battled with trying to stop our little ones kicking their blankets off on a walk, which is why our testers loved this clever travel blanket, which always stays put. Our testers remarked on how easy it was to fit and how it kept their babies cosy and at a safe temperature. The highest praise of all? A calm baby on the school run – winner!
In the words of tester Seaneen, mum of 4: “Easy to use and well thought out, this is a brilliant little invention which will make busy mums’ lives that bit easier, knowing their baby is cosy, warm and comfortable.”
More like this
Bronze – Rockham PacaPod, £89
Why it’s a winner: This changing bag impressed our parents with its sleek, high-quality finish and cool, unisex design. Tester Tim, dad of a 5-month-old, said “it’s easy to use, looks very nice and it makes no difference if its mum or dad using the bag.” But what made it really stand out with our testers was the hidden pockets and clever pod system inside, with separate inner bags for changing and feeding. One tester claimed it was just what she needed to make “a disorganised mum feel a little more organised”, making it super-easy to fit in everything you need and find exactly what you’re after on a day out.
In the words of tester Rachel, mum of a 4-month-old: “Well made and great quality, it’s very light but sturdy, and spacious enough for all the usual kit you need to squeeze in. I also liked the handy pram clips too.”
Finalists: ErgoPouch Window Blackout Blinds
Key features we tested – Mattress quality, effectiveness, ease of build/fold, ease of transportation, extra features and worth the money.
Gold – Bugaboo Stardust, from £199
An essential part of your naptime or travel routine
Why it’s a winner: With its innovative “1-second unfold”, this cot is so easy to use you probably won’t even need the instructions. Our testers loved its lightweight design and portability. Unlike most travel cots it folds down wide and flat, so while it’s probably not the best choice if you’re flying, it fits perfectly in a car boot and will slip under a bed for storage at home. The other big selling point is the high-quality built-in mattress, which can be unclipped and moved up to be used with the optional newborn bassinet. Tester Katy, mum of 2, said, “I would be happy to let my baby sleep overnight in this cot.”
In the words of Rovenna, mum of a 4-month-old: “It's great quality, well made, and stylish as one would expect from the Bugaboo brand. The fact it has both a raised zip in baby bassinet or a deep bed for toddlers – as well as a comfortable and generously filled built in mattress – is fantastic. It's compact and lightweight, meaning it can be easily moved from room to room and transported in its handy carry bag.”
Silver – Micralite Sleep ‘n’ Go, £195
Why it’s a winner: Another travel cot that unfolds with just a quick shake, this performed well with our testers who loved its secondary use as a playpen, thanks to the zip-down side that can be left open for curious toddlers. “As a play area it's great, lots of space and breathability,” said Sylvia, mum of 3. The mattress is firm but cushioned and feels comfortable, while the mesh sides allow for plenty of airflow to help babies regulate their body temperature. There’s a newborn insert to save your back, and it all folds up into a bag that can be slipped over the shoulder.
In the words of Louisa, mum of a 14-month-old: I think this is a lovely, sleek and modern travel cot / playpen. The quality is perfect….the amount of use and fun my son has had out of it is incredible.”
Bronze Joint – Graco Contour Electra, £99.99
Why it’s a winner: If you’re looking for a good value travel cot with lots of extras, this definitely delivers. As well as a roomy cot with a newborn insert you also get a changing station, a toy bar, and a nightlight with music, white noise and vibration settings. When it comes to portability, it comes with a travel bag, but it can also be moved about while it’s set up. “As it is on wheels it is easy to move location which is a big plus,” said tester Katherine, mum of a 20-month-old. Overall, testers felt all the extras made this great value for money.
In the words of Jessica, mum of a 5-month-old: “The Grace Electra travel cot has proven to be a lovely cot for my 5 month old son. It folds up to an easily transportable, small travel bag and has lovely extras such as the hanging toy bar and night light which are well thought out. I was able to put my son down for day naps in it immediately, and he slept in it at night.”
Bronze Joint – Red Kite Dreamer Bedside Travel Crib, £55
Why it’s a winner: Travelling with a very young baby can be challenging, but this travel crib does a wonderful job of giving you the comfort and security of a bedside crib while you’re away from home. It’s got a newborn bassinet with a drop-down side and can be fastened to your bed. As your child grows, it can be converted to a standalone travel crib, which tester Joanne, mum of a 10-month-old, described as, “a brilliant size when you don't have much space.” Although it lacks some of the style of more premium models (and has partially solid walls as opposed to mesh) it offers incredible value and can’t be faulted as a convertible option that’ll grow with your child.
In the words of Brittany, mum of a newborn: “The Dreamer Bedside Travel Crib gives you plenty of options for a growing baby and changing environments. You have multiple products rolled into one here which saves you from buying separate products, not only saving you space but money too! The drop side makes night feeds much easier and allows a safe sleeping environment for baby.”
Baby and children's fashion range
Key features we tested/judged: quality of fabrics, style, comfort, how well they wash, fit / sizing and worth the money
Gold – Pickle Spring/Summer 2021 Collection, from £12.50
The unusual unisex prints are a real talking point, and I loved the quality fabrics and clever design details like nickel-free poppers and extra-deep cuffs
Why it’s a winner: Made in the UK for children up to 10 years old, Pickle's small online range of rompers, T-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings, dresses and pyjamas were described as “lovely quality” and “easy to wear” by our home testers. For parents looking for unique and gender-neutral designs, Pickle meets that need in abundance. It even opened the eyes of one of our testers to be more adventurous with her daughter's clothing. Anna, mum of a 4-month-old, commented: “Due to Pickle offering such unusual and alternative prints and colours it has encouraged me to consider further purchases of alternative designs.”
In the words of tester Mariola, mum of 2: “The clothes are brilliant! My son loves them and is very comfortable running around in them. I will definitely order more.”
Buy from: Pickle
Silver Joint – Alex and Alexa, from £4
Why it’s a winner: Taking children from newborn up to 16-years-old, Alex and Alexa has a huge offering of almost 400 designer brands from around the globe, including brand like Mini Rodini, Stella McCartney and Kuling. Gemma, mum of 2, was thrilled with her son's organic cotton sunshine jumper, saying “he fell in love with it (along with me). He couldn’t wait to try it on.” She was impressed with the product’s eco-credentials, including the fact the jumper is made from recycled off-cuts. Gemma added: “Each garment is individual and has imperfections due to the way they are produced, which I loved.”
In the words of tester Gemma, mum of 2: “We absolutely loved the cool, vibrant vintage pattern and style of this jumper; it really cheered us up on a cold rainy day.”
Buy from: Alex and Alexa
Silver Joint – Blade & Rose, from £3.50
Why it’s a winner: Well-known for its signature collection of knitted leggings, Blade & Rose also offers co-ordinating tops, footwear and accessories for kids age 0-10 years. “Beautiful, unique and comfortable” and “amazing quality” were just some of the positive comments from our home testers. Chantal, mum of 2, was impressed with the fit of the leggings. She added: “The leggings are straight-legged as opposed to the usual tight ankle, which allows for easy dressing of a wriggly baby. The knit is extremely stretchy meaning they fit your child beautifully.”
In the words of tester Olivia, mum of an 8-month-old: “Not the cheapest of items, but definitely worth the money. I would prefer to buy from this brand than the majority of high street stores after testing the product.”
Bronze – The Essential One Sleepsuit Collection, from £10
Why it’s a winner: The high-quality fabrics and thoughtful design of these sleepsuits from family-run business The Essential One gave them high scores in effectiveness and quality. They come in a number of designs, and all our testers picked up on the fact that even the kimono-style ones had good access for changing. Ben, dad of 3, said “having another set of poppers around the inside of the legs makes late-night nappy changes easy.” The sleepsuits washed well and our parents liked how soft they were. “The quality of the material is superb, extra soft and luxurious,” added Ben.
In the words of tester Kimberly, mum of a 9-month-old: “There are plenty of thoughtful design features that make life easier for parents and more comfortable for your baby, such as foldable hand mitts in the bigger sizes and additional leg poppers in the sleepsuits.”
Children's outdoor clothing/active wear
Key features we tested/judged: how warm, waterproof and windproof they are, fit / sizing, quality of materials, durability, design, worth the money
Joint Gold – Hippychick Waterproof all-in-ones, from £27.50
I’m so glad my children can now splash without having soaking wet clothes underneath
Why it’s a winner: As well as being great value, these waterproof, windproof and breathable suits have a clever design that ensures a good fit for children who are tall or short for their age. “Hippychick have understood that ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and so my tall but very skinny 4-year-old has been able to fit into it perfectly,” commented Abigail, mum of 2. Our testers loved the range of colours and, most importantly, they felt that the suits – suitable for ages 1-7 years – kept the rain out. Abigail added: “They have kept both of my children bone dry.”
In the words of tester Victoria, mum of 2: “It is actually properly waterproof! The fit is baggy around the body, which is perfect for fitting over warm clothes and I think it’ll last my son at least a year making it good value. The visor on the hood means it’s great while it’s raining too.”
Joint Gold – Wet Wednesdays Waterproof Jacket and Dungaree Set, from £25
I love the durability of the jacket and my little one was obsessed with the dinosaurs!
Why it’s a winner: For active kids who like to run, jump and climb, the Wet Wednesdays Waterproof Jacket and Dungaree Set keeps them warm and dry without hindering their movement. Our testers liked the jacket's long back to keep out draughts, heavy-duty zip and adjustable velcro cuffs. The dungarees come with reinforced pads on the knees and bottom to withstand robust play. Abbygayle, mum of 2 said: “As a mum of a very active toddler this is heaven!” Kids loved the fun prints, while parents liked how easy the jacket was to get on and off.
In the words of tester Elisa, mum of a 4-year-old: “My son found the zip easy to do up himself, which was possibly why he chose this over other coats, as he could do it all independently. The coat is warm, waterproof and comfy, which a coat should be.”
Buy from: Wet Wednesdays
Silver – Kidunk Clothing, from £29.99
Why it’s a winner: Great for active families, our testers loved the fact that the Teflon-coated Kidunk tops and bottoms can be worn separately, or zipped together to make a cosy waterproof puddlesuit. Heather, mum of 2, said: “It kept my daughter warm and dry while playing outside and has a very versatile nature.” The fleece-lined trousers have a clever welly design, which our testers loved. Kelly, mum of 3 said: “We love the inner leg that just goes inside the welly, but still offers protection from the wet with the outer section too! Such a great idea.”
In the words of tester Kelly, mum of 3: “The material is durable and they look stylish with the lovely colours and contrasting zip and lining. The fleecy lining is lovely and soft and warm to get into, rather than a plasticky inner on a lot of other options. They have definitely done the job for outside play, keeping my son warm and dry.”
Bronze – Muddy Puddles 3 in 1 Scampsuit, £75
Why it’s a winner: Despite a significantly higher price-point than the other entries, the Scampsuit was still a big hit with our testers due to its innovative design and all-weather features. The suit – available for children aged 0-6 – can be worn 3 different ways to keep your child at the perfect temperature. Frankie, mum of 2, said: “I love this suit. It’s great that I can take the fleece liner out so he won’t get too hot, but will still be dry.” The 0-12 months suits have feet and hand warmers, while the larger sizes feature extra fabric for easy wear with wellies or ski boots.
In the words of tester Frankie, mum of 2: “Great quality and well made; I really like that you can take out the fleece liner out so it can be used all year round.”
Buy from: Muddy Puddles
Key features we tested/judged – UV sun protection, worth the money, quality of materials, fit for child's age, how well it washes, comfort, range of colours and design
Gold – Konfidence Splashy swimsuit made with e-Flex, £19.99
A great product, lovely design and easy to use
Why it’s a winner: This swimsuit was so popular with our home testers, it almost scored full marks! Feedback included “really great price”, “love the colour and pattern” and “the quality of this is wonderful”. Made from e-Flex material, which combines nylon, polyester and recycled plastic, the Splashy swimsuit is good for the planet, as well as comfortable for your kids. With long arms and legs and UPF 50+ UV sun protection, it will keep your children safe in the sun. Lauren, mum of 2, added: “The fleecy underside kept my daughter warm.”
In the words of tester Lauren, mum of 2: “I’m happy with the quality of the product. It’s strong, durable and feels thick like it’s made well.”
Silver – Splash About Swimwear, from £10.99
Why it’s a winner: The “funky” designs were a hit with our testers, who also rated the durable materials and fit of the Splash About Swimwear range, which includes wetsuits, swim nappies and floatsuits. Rebecca, mum of a 7-month-old commented: “The quality feels amazing – much better than previous swimwear I have bought – and I would 110% say the design is fit for purpose.” Made from birth up to age 6, the range was also praised for its UPF 50+ UV sun protection, supple and soft fabric, how easy it was to put on and off, and how quickly it dries after use.
In the words of tester Rebecca, mum of a 7-month-old: “A great quality product that looks very stylish and will reduce the changing time due to the ease of putting it on and taking it off.”
Bronze – Limmys Premium Neoprene Swim Vest, £25.97
Why it’s a winner: Giving parents peace of mind and making children feel safe and supported in open water, the Limmys Swim Vest “is a quality product that I would recommend,” said Vicci, mum of 2. While the vest does feel bulky due to the built-in buoyancy aids, this did not hinder Vicci’s son's movement while wearing it. Other positives include fun designs (“I love the flowers mummy!” said one tester’s daughter) a handy storage bag, soft and breathable material, and an affordable price.
In the words of tester Claire, mum of a 6-year-old: “The vest is good value for money and I loved that it came with its own bag for storage and for the convenience to take along swimming.”
Buy from: Amazon
Children's shoe range
Key features we tested/judged: size range, fit, durability, comfort, choice of colours and materials, machine washable, waterproof
Gold – KEEN Seacamp II CNX, from £30
They are comfortable, easy to adjust and so flexible on my daughter's feet
Why it’s a winner: Active children need shoes that support and protect their feet. Our testers found that the KEEN Seacamp II CNX did just that. The lightweight, open design makes them perfect for wearing in summer. The shoes were praised by our testers for their flexible soles, durable materials and the fact they come in a wide range of colours to suit both boys and girls. They also loved that they can be put in the washing machine. Emily, mum of 2, commented: “A great shoe, well designed and with consideration given to how the shoe can last despite getting the battering it should as an activity sandal.”
In the words of tester Stephanie, mum of 2: “I love the colour, high-quality materials and comfort levels that this shoe provides. The flexible design and non-slip supportive sole means my son has more freedom to run, jump and climb and enjoy the outdoors.”
Silver – Bobux Autumn/Winter 2020 Collection, from £22
Why it’s a winner: From trainers and school shoes to leather boots, Bobux received top marks from our testers for using quality waterproof materials. Rachel, mum of 3, commented: “Extremely well made! The quality is second to none. Very easy to put on and off my child’s foot.” With many of the shoes costing more than £40, our testers felt that these are an investment buy, or something to consider for a very special occasion. The lambswool-lined winter boots are so gorgeous we couldn’t help but gasp when we took them out of the box. Gillian, mum of 2, added: “You are paying for quality.”
In the words of tester Gillian, mum of 2: “You can tell from their look and feel that they’re very high quality. Extremely sturdy and supportive boots for first walkers.”
Bronze – Start-Rite Shoes, from £29
Why it’s a winner: With sizes from age 0-16 years, Start-Rite shoes are specially designed for the shape of a child's foot and will take kids from their first steps up to secondary school. Our testers loved the durability and how comfortable and well-fitting the shoes are. Emma, mum of 2, said: “I can’t fault the quality of the material or the comfort on the boot, as my daughter really loves wearing them, and her other Start-Rite shoes too.” Wipe-clean materials and the option for half sizes and multi-width fittings, as well as lightweight, flexible soles, made these shoes a popular choice with our testers.
In the words of tester Seaneen, mum of 4: “These little boots are perfect; they are sturdy, comfortable and look amazing. It makes things a lot easier, as my 7-year-old likes puddles and mud – and these can be wiped clean.”
Baby & toddler book
Key features we tested/judged: Value for money, product design, quality, durability, story, learning opportunities, suitability for age group
Gold – That's not my narwhal..., £6.99
This book is excellent quality, very durable and easy for my daughter to learn to turn the pages herself. The bright designs keep her attention and she loves the different textures on each page. She quickly learnt to feel the page for the textures and now goes straight to them
Why it’s a winner: Another great addition to a much-loved franchise was the overwhelming verdict of our testers. The “That’s not my…” range is a firm family favourite and parents loved the inclusion of this trendy new character. Points were awarded for the high quality, well thought-out design and illustrations and the attention to detail. The bright colours and varied textures won the hearts of babies and toddlers alike who, time and again, will pick this book first off the shelf.
In the words of tester Rachel, mum of a 1 year old: “My son loves this book, especially the squishy cover. It gets a great reaction and provides sensory stimulation as well as keeping my son engaged (and still!) for a few minutes. The book is perfect for little hands to control or carry around. The bright coloured cover means my son picks it off the bookshelf regularly and the different touch and feel materials are great for sensory play.”
Silver – What Does Paul Wear?, £9.99
Why it’s a winner: This brightly-coloured fabric book acts as the ideal introduction to reading for babies and younger toddlers. With soft, sturdy pages that little hands can turn, parents praised the varied textures and appealing images of character Paul’s clothing. They also praised the strong clip for attaching it to the pram which was reported as being baby-proof. Parents found that children were really engaged with the pictures as well as the sensory experience - giving the grown-ups a valuable minute to themselves while their baby is safely distracted.
In the words of tester Carlynne, mum of 2: “This is a great pram toy - the clip on the book is well made making it impossible for babies to throw it away! It keeps my baby entertained and she loves all the sensory items. Even my 3-year-old likes to steal it off her sister for a little look and a play. I would definitely recommend this to any mummies looking for a good sensory book to keep their baby entertained.”
Joint Bronze – My Busy Bots Toddler Toolkit, £13.99
Why it’s a winner: A real stand-out product thanks to its novel design: it is a series of flashcards rather than a classic book. Young testers were engaged with the artwork and imagery while older ones really seemed to embrace the educational aspect, quickly picking up letters. Parents praised the activities included on each card as it adds an extra element of involvement that goes beyond simply reading together. Tim Vincent, TV presenter, host of The Likely Dads podcast and dad of twins said, “My children enjoyed the cards, and were engaged as I turned the pages and asked questions.” While pricey, these are well-made and parents felt they would stand the test of time and could be recycled for other children to use.
In the words of tester Jade, mum of 2: “The Toddler Toolkit is one of the best learning resources available. Harrison has been really engaged in the lovely activities and I’m proud to say after just a few days use he now knows the whole alphabet. The cards themselves are so well made and easy to store with lovely graphics which really piqued my son's interest. I highly recommend this product and will buy more in the future.”
Joint Bronze – What Would Boo Do?, £4.99
Why it’s a winner: In a world dominated by Covid-19, a germ-free book could not go unmentioned. These simple board books use cute pictures to engage children in the importance of good hygiene and to explain some of the strange things that have been going on around them in recent months such as mask-wearing and time off school/nursery. Parents loved the timely messages, but more importantly they liked the sweet illustrations and felt children took valuable lessons away from the story. The book is coated in an anti-bacterial technology which also offered parents peace of mind.
In the words of tester Faseela, mum of a 2-year-old: “My son enjoyed sitting with me and reading these books which are very good quality - they feel very nice and soft. They make nice use of colours and I love the characters – the panda is so adorable. It’s definitely worth the money as the quality is outstanding. Plus the innovative anti-bacterial/viral coating makes it germ-free for your child.”
Buy from: Silver & Bamboo
Shortlisted: Awesome Animals of the Amazon | Rhinocorn Rules | Kittens on Dinosaurs, Captain Fantastic: I've Got You
Key features we tested/judged: value for money, product design, quality, durability, story, learning opportunities, suitability for age group
Gold – If I had a Unicorn, £10.95
A cleverly made book with gorgeous illustrations and a captivating story that pre-schoolers will love
Why it’s a winner: This book has beautiful visuals and a story that captured our pre-schoolers’ attention immediately, with a textured unicorn that “adds another dimension to the book that’s very important for more tactile learners,” according to our testers. Part of the enduringly popular ‘If I Had…’ series, the book uses playful rhyme and gentle humour to explore what is might be like to have a unicorn for a pet. This isn’t your conventional pink and glittery offering – the unicorn is white, “like a clean slate ready to spark your child’s imagination”, and there’s a “wonderfully drawn” giant with tattoos. The cover easy to spot on the bookshelf and appealing to children. It’s a perfect for a bedtime story but also ideal to “develop imaginative play throughout the day.”
In the words of tester Ashleigh, mum of 2: “The hardback edition is great quality, beautifully presented and looks expensive, so would make a great present. The story is just the right length and my daughter really enjoyed listening to it and described the book as ‘awesome'. We’ve read it several times and she still loves it.”
Silver – Why Do Things Die? (Lift the Flap First Questions & Answers), £9.99
Why it’s a winner: Designed to fill a gap in the market by helping parents and carers find the words to explain death and dying to young children, this book covers an extremely tricky topic in a friendly and approachable way, using animal characters. “We love the animals and the idea of being outdoors to ask questions on the subject of death – and there are lots of answers”, said tester Paul, dad of 3. Another tester felt the book “bridges the gap between entertainment and education” and said it “really helped to answer some of my son’s questions in a gentle and informative way, and normalised the whole subject matter.” Aesthetically, it’s beautiful and sturdily designed.
In the words of tester Caroline, mum of 4-year-old: “It’s a beautifully designed and involving read for young children trying to make sense of life and death – and for parents wondering how to respond. I would certainly recommend to anyone trying to explore this complex and conceptual subject with children, as well as those experiencing grief.”
Bronze – This Small Blue Dot, £11.95
Why it’s a winner: Created by the author for his daughter, who struggled to find characters that resembled her in picture books, this story is beautifully illustrated in an original style that combines detailed sketches with bold, colourful crayon. “My 4-year-old son loves books and liked the cover of this one immediately”, said tester Samantha, mum of 1. The story is a celebration of family, nature, love, diversity – and what it means to be human. Big concepts, but our young tester “understood the context of the story after the first read”, thanks to the careful balance of words and pictures.
In the words of tester Agne, mum of 2: “The book is of great quality and the illustrations are simply wonderful – we loved them. The story itself is well written and I would definitely recommend it to anyone as a great book to buy for their little one.”
Book for children 5-8 years old
Key features we tested/judged: Appeal, quality of product, worth the money, design, unique concept, age suitability
Gold – Llama Out Loud!, £6.99
I know the saying is don’t judge a book by its cover but in this case you really must. The cover is bright and grabbed my attention from the second I received it. My eldest child was really interested in reading it as soon as I gave it to her
Why it’s a winner: This eye-catching read won over the hearts of our young testers and their parents thanks to the detailed illustrations, fun characters and manageable text. Children and adults alike were gripped by the story and young readers were keen to share the llama’s antics with their friends. Parents also found their children were keen to chat about what was happening within the story as it was broken up into sensible-sized chunks allowing them to discuss each section as they finished it.
In the words of tester Hannah, mum of 3: “My little girl and I really enjoyed the book. Once my daughter understood who everyone was within the story she thought the antics of the llama were funny and it made her giggle. It was really good that the pages of writing were broken up with illustrations as it meant she remained interested and we stopped to chat about them.”
Silver – Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers About Plastic, £9.99
Why it’s a winner: The real stand-out feature of this book was how effective it was in teaching children (and parents) about the different types of plastic in the world and the harm it can do. All of our testers – young and old – reported learning something they didn’t know before reading the book and admitted it made them think about their own lifestyle and changes they could make to it. Crucially though, the information was presented in a fun, engaging and digestible way.
In the words of tester Spyroula, mum of 2: “I would definitely recommend this book - it is very educational yet fun and interactive. It is very informative and makes you think about the environment. My 5-year-old son was very enthusiastic to read the book and has learnt so much about plastic and how to recycle it. He now wants to do his part to help the environment and protect the animals. My son and I learnt a lot of things that we previously didn’t know.”
Bronze – Marvellous Magicians, £14.99
Why it’s a winner: Bright, beautiful illustrations that helped to break down and explain the text were a highlight for testers of this fun read. The unusual subject matter was also a talking point with many parents commenting on how unexpected some of the magic tricks featured in the book are. The informative yet engaging way in which the tricks are explained did not go unnoticed. It was also deemed a high-quality product that can withstand a bit of punishment form eager young readers.
In the words of tester Laura, mum of an 8-year-old: “Marvellous Magicians is a fabulous looking book. It’s so colourful and bright. The pages are very nicely designed with lovely pictures that help to explain the information to younger readers. The quality of the book is superb with a nice hard cover and thick pages - perfect for clumsy young hands.”
Shortlisted: The Big Book of Blooms | Captain Fantastic: Chocolate Planet
Book for children 9-12
Key features we tested/judged: appeal, quality of product, value for money, design, unique concept, age suitability
Joint Gold – 100 Things to Know About Saving the Planet, £9.99
I would 10/10 recommend this product. It is a captivating, easy to understand book of pure joy
Why it’s a winner: Parents praised the educational yet utterly engaging aspects of this book – saying children quickly became immersed in facts and figures without even realising it. One of the child testers has dyslexia yet found the information easy to follow and digest and loved all the references to animals. The book’s message is very topical and is presented in such a way so as not to overwhelm young readers but at the same time help them to grasp the importance and seriousness of the subject matter.
In the words of tester Lauren, mum of 2: “Bright and colourful, this book really packs a punch. The hardback element of the book means it’s sturdy even if my toddler gets hold of it. The writing is a great size and it’s easy to follow and presented clearly so as to not make it difficult for slower readers. I really hope that other children get as much enjoyment from it as my son does.”
Joint Gold – Otters' Moon, £6.99
My daughter really enjoyed reading this book – it is the perfect size and price
Why it’s a winner: Top marks went to author Susanna Bailey for helping to expand the vocabulary of young readers while also presenting them with a gripping story to follow. Parents praised the beautiful cover illustration and both children and grown-ups enjoyed the theme of friendship around which the story is centred. The introduction of an animal to the story also proved very appealing to children within this age group who also felt the writer built up suspense well.
In the words of tester Lucy, mum of 3: “My daughter really enjoyed this book. There were some challenging descriptive words but she managed to read the book independently. She read it over a period of two weeks and was desperate to see if the otter got to be released into the sea. I would definitely recommend this author.”
Silver - The Day I Fell Into a Fairytale, £12.99
Why it’s a winner: “An action-packed adventure we couldn’t put down” is how one tester described this book by comedian and author Ben Miller – and they also admitted to being as gripped as their child by this tale of magic and myths. Young readers so loved this bold and imaginative story, that they were inspired to seek out more work by Miller. An eye-catching covered and attractive detailed bordering on the inside pages really sealed the deal for our families.
In the words of tester Amy, mum of 2: “As an adult, I enjoyed this book just as much as my 9-year-old. A magical story with plenty of adventure to keep you engaged and wanting to read more. Ben Miller is an excellent author. The illustrated cover is appealing and my daughter was instantly interested and excited to read the book. The cover gives off a magical feel!”
Bronze - Goddesses and Heroines: Women of Myth and Legend , £14.95
Why it’s a winner: Is there any greater compliment to a writer than telling them they’ve produced a book you can’t put down? Apparently so – a book you read twice. And that’s exactly what one of our young testers did, so gripped was she by this uplifting study of women who history may have overlooked. Described by parents as empowering, it also helped female readers to develop a sense of pride in their gender. And all this contained within a good-looking, well presented book.
In the words of tester Louisa, mum of 4: “It is a lovely book which I read with my daughters. It’s very empowering to read about all the female heroines and goddesses and very informative – it gave my daughters a real sense of pride in being a woman. It also has some lovely illustrations.”
Children’s book series
Key features we tested/judged: Appeal, quality of product, value for money, design, unique concept
Gold - Pablo Storybooks, £6.99 each
These books were highly enjoyed by both parent and child. They allow autistic children to feel included and seen but can also give neuro-typical readers a glimpse into the autistic world. I highly recommend these books to all. A great addition to our library
Why it’s a winner: Dealing with overwhelming feelings can be tough – but parents praised this series of six books for helping young children to understand their emotions and work through them. A partner to the CBeebies series about 5-year-old autistic boy Pablo, these books present information in a unique way that parents said appealed to autistic and neuro-typical children alike. Our testers said the books offer a window into life with autism – something we could all benefit from having a better understanding of. The icing on the cake was the beautifully drawn illustrations.
In the words of tester Louise, mum of 2: “These are beautiful brightly illustrated story books, great for sharing with little ones to teach them about big feelings and emotions. The books are great quality and brightly designed with lovely pictures. They are great value for money too.”
Silver - Lift-the-Flap Very First Questions and Answers, £7.99 per book
Why it’s a winner: Children never stop asking questions and these beautifully made lift-the-flap books have at least some of the answers. Toddlers and pre-schoolers loved the bright colours, intricate pictures and the interactive flap features while parents praised the intelligent subject matters tackled such as STEM content and the clear explanations offered of day-to-day goings on. Children were intrigued by the questions and subjects raised and desperate to lift the flaps and find the answers.
In the words of tester Louise, mum of 2: “We have really enjoyed this series of question and answer books as they use really simple ways of explaining important things through the eyes of a child. My 4-year-old is at the age where he is intrigued by facts and what is happening around us and why. These books explain everything really well. The quality is good and the books and flaps are really strong.”
Buy from: Usborne
Bronze – The Little Paws Hotel £6.99 each
Why it’s a winner: Helping children understand their feelings and express themselves clearly has never been more important than it is now, and this series of books based around a hotel for dogs does exactly that. Our testers loved how the stories encouraged children to share their feelings with others and to empathise when others do the same with them. They also loved how it get kids talking about what they have read and learned. These books tackle difficult subjects in an accessible way.
In the words of tester Caroline, mum of 3: “I really enjoyed these books. My eldest son is nearly 8 so I asked him to read these to his younger siblings. I love the comment in the book ‘to share how you’re feeling is the best thing to do’ as it is something all children should do. The questions at the end are great too as it gets children to think about what they have been reading.”
Buy from: Head2Heart Books
Baby activity mat/gym/activity centre
Key features we tested/judged: effectiveness, ease of use, quality of product, child’s reaction, worth the money
Gold – Taf Toys Koala Musical Cosy Gym, £69.99
My child absolutely loved this play gym – it has great features and kept them entertained for ages
Why it’s a winner: This classic baby gym won over our parents thanks to its attractive yet practical design. With plenty of features to keep your baby busy, it’s also stylish enough to sit alongside sleek, modern furnishings. The raised, cushioned sides are a built-in tummy time tool meaning your baby can relax or play on their back, or practice their neck control while lying on their front. Parents also praised the quality of the fabric and the reasonable price of this product.
In the words of Trudy, mum of 4: “This is perfect for any baby to try. As a mum, I love the way it’s set up and the price is also ideal too. I would recommend this play mat to anyone.”
Silver – gus + beau Triangle Playmat Set In Grey, £70
Why it’s a winner: Simplicity was a key element of these stylish foam play mats, which our testers found easy to use and lovely to look at. Ideal for newly mobile babies, the funky-looking squares easily fit together to create a soft, safe surface to roll, wiggle and play on. Being wipe-clean was another winning feature and testers also loved the little travel bag they come with, as it transforms them into a portable product and offers added value for money.
In the words of tester Jaimie Turner, mum of a baby and a toddler: “These mats have been a joy to use, they’re easy to wipe clean and soft enough for my baby but tough enough to withstand my toddler. They’re lovely and thick, a fantastic size and a great colour. These mats are definitely worth the price tag: they are fantastic quality and I can see them lasting for a very long time.”
Bronze – Red Kite Baby Go Round Race Car, £49.99
Why it’s a winner: An eye-catching design coupled with the ability to entertain made this walker stand out from the crowd. Testers praised the fun car-themed seat and the versatility of this product, with reports of babies using it for everything from sitting in, to eating in to whizzing around the house. The fact it folds flat made it attractive to families who are a little tight on space and one mum even said her son ate all of his meals and snacks while in the walker thanks to the little built-in tray.
In the words of Joanne Jefferson, mum of 3: “The Red Kite Walker moves so easily - my baby uses it all the time and picked up how to move in all different directions very fast. It has made my life easier because my little boy follows me everywhere now and enjoys his ride.”
Also shortlisted: Curved Wooden Baby Gym & Charms Set by The Little Green Sheep Company
Scooters and ride-ons
Key features we tested/judged: Effectiveness, ease of assembly, quality and safety of product, worth money
Gold – Yvolution Y Glider NUA, £84.99
A fantastic scooter – from the moment it arrived my son was obsessed. An overall 10/10 product which we would definitely recommend to others
Why it’s a winner: Our testers couldn’t praise this scooter for children aged 3-10 highly enough. From the smooth steering to the sleek design, from the easy folding action to the adjustable height and the gender neutral colour options, it was a stand-out winner in its category. Parents particularly loved the fact it comes with fittings so that you can hang it up when not in use, an unusual feature for a scooter, as it saves on storage space.
In the words of Gemma, mum of 2: “We absolutely LOVE this scooter as a family. My daughter is absolutely thrilled with it – she loves the light up wheels, how sturdy it is, the colour and the design. The fittings to be able to hang it up for storage are a game changer - it’s a real point of difference from other brands I’ve seen.”
Silver – Beehive Toys Giraffe Balance Bike, £39.99
Why it’s a winner: Younger children went wild for this animal print bike that proved to be a hit both indoors and out. Parents appreciated the high quality product at an affordable price. The eye-catching print and the unique three-wheel design made getting around super easy for our toddler testers. It’s also super lightweight, making it easy to take out and about with you even if you’re not driving – one tester even managed to squeeze it into her buggy basket.
In the words of Anna, mum of an 18-month-old: “This little bike is great! It’s lightweight, so easy to take to the park or carry around - it even fits under the buggy. My son absolutely loves it and ‘brrroom brrroooms’ outside and inside to get from room to room. It’s the perfect entry-level balance bike.”
Joint Bronze – Mini Micro 3-in-1 Deluxe LED Push Along Scooter, from £122.95
Why it’s a winner: This adaptable little scooter stood out for its versatility and for the fact that the product grows and adapts with your child, making it good value for money despite an initially high price tag. Suitable for use from as young as 12 months, children will be scooting unaided on this right up until school age. Parents loved the ride-on mode for younger children and the ability to personalise the experience with accessories and multiple colour choices. The children, unsurprisingly, were more interested in the light-up wheels.
In the words of Holly Little, mum to a 20-month-old: “I think this is a brilliant scooter that every child will love. It is so adaptable for different ages and great for getting children to enjoy the outdoors. They are very stylish with light-up wheels which children will love. I also believe you can add to the scooter with baskets etc which will make it even more appealing to children”
Buy from: Micro Scooters
Joint Bronze – STR3 Folding Stroller Trike by smarTrike, £130
Why it’s a winner: This adaptable trike won points for standing out from the crowd. Like the Mini Micro 3-in-1, this is a multi-stage product that grows with your child – and one that can be used from as young as 10 months. It’s a genuine trike/pushchair hybrid that gives you multiple options for use when out and about. Parents praised the light design, simple set-up and the ability to stay in control of their child’s movements while also giving the child a little more freedom to explore and enjoy their surroundings. It also folds up for storage, similar to a compact fold pushchair.
In the words of Alex, mum of 2: “This product is definitely designed to adapt with your child. My 18-month-old loves it and it felt like he was more involved in family walks, rather than being stuck in his buggy while his brother races ahead. The storage bag was surprisingly roomy - ideal for hats, drinks and even a football.”
Shortlisted: Hippychick Wheelybug
Toddler and kids' bike
Key features we tested/judged: effectiveness, ease of assembly, quality and safety of product, value for money
Gold – Hooga 2-in-1 Wooden Balance Bike/Trike – Zebra, £45
As someone who is not very technical and holds their breath when I know I have to assemble toys, this product was very easy to make and was obviously a quality product
Why it’s a winner: Ease of assembly was the stand-out winning feature for this fun and brightly-coloured little bike. The zebra theme appealed to young riders while the fact you can go from box to working bike in under 10 minutes offered real parent appeal. The sturdy three-wheel design made it super easy for younger children to get to grips with riding it and the fact it later converts to two wheels as your toddler grows in size and confidence garnered brownie points for longevity and value for money.
In the words of Jennifer Dooris, mum of a 2-year-old: “I loved this product and would definitely recommend it to a friend. It was built within 10 minutes of opening the box and I barely needed the instructions – it was so easy to build that my toddler helped.”
Joint Silver – Micro 2in1 Chopper Balance Bike, £124.95
Why it’s a winner: Well established in the world of balance bikes and scooters, Micro is a name parents know they can trust. But what really blew our tester families away was the sleek yet functional design of this latest balance bike. Parents spoke of being stopped in the street by people keen to comment on how great this product looks, while the option to add stabilisers for less confident riders was also a winning feature. Light yet robust, the Chopper grows with your child and like all Micro products it’s built to last, so it’s great for multi-age families.
In the words of Jasmine, mum of 2: “This is an amazingly high-end quality product with a reasonable price tag – it’s a steal when you look at how many years of fun your child can have with it and the quality of the bike. It can definitely take the beating it will get from being played with constantly for years.
Joint Silver – Hornit AIRO, £129
Why it’s a winner: This extremely lightweight balance bike weighs in at less than 3kg but doesn’t compromise on quality – this turned out to be a winning formula for our testers who loved that it was strong, sturdy and effortlessly cool-looking but light enough to carry when your toddler inevitably decides they’ve had enough of riding it. Points were also awarded for how easy it is to assemble and it was another product that turned heads while our testers were out and about.
In the words of James Moran, father of a 3-year-old: “Beautiful quality and design, this is a really high quality product - the finish, the look, the weight, the tyres. It's a very cool bike. It’s very light so my toddler has no trouble keeping it standing up - she is fascinated with it and keeps going to climb on.”
Bronze - Black Mountain HÜTTO, £449
Why it’s a winner: With a hefty £400+ price tag, it would be easy for most parents to dismiss this high-end product altogether. But our testers were won over by the sheer quality of the bike on offer and the personalised service that comes with this hand-built product. Aimed at ages 6 to 9, it grows with your child and is also a great first introduction to gears. Our testers felt it boosted rider confidence and offered a premium experience in terms of safety that couldn’t be replicated elsewhere. Despite the “bells and whistles” features, the frame is still lightweight.
In the words of Natalie, mum of 2: “We love absolutely everything about this bike. It has really improved our son’s confidence and his bike-riding ability. We have been wowed by how it looks, impressed with the longevity the design offers and reassured by how sturdy and safe the bike is. Black Mountain have smashed it out of the park with the HÜTTO.”
Buy it from: Black Mountain
Shortlisted: Squish Balance Bike
Newborn gift/baby keepsake
Key features we tested/judged: Appeal to parents, quality and effectiveness, design, worth money
Gold – Rosa & Bo Nesting Woodland Friends with Chiming Benji Bunny, £22
The design is perfect for little hands and the colours are universally appealing
Why it’s a winner: “Well made” and “excellent quality” according to our testers, this cute set of nesting creatures is a BPA-free plastic, baby-friendly riff on traditional wooden Russian Dolls, with “fine features” painted in neutral colours that will suit any nursery. It doesn’t just look great on display – this toy is pleasingly interactive and safe for both babies and young children. Tester Marium, mum of 2, said “my baby loves to shake Benji Bunny to hear it chime while my older child loves to engage in imaginary play with all the creatures.”
In the words of tester Liza, mum of a 2-year-old: “This toy is well worth the money as there are so many different ways to play with it, whether that’s recognising animals, colours or sizes, plus it promotes skills such as hand-eye coordination.”
Silver – Priya & Peanut Newborn Baby Sensory Flashcards, £12.99
Why it’s a winner: A delightful and useful eco-conscious gift, these double-sided flashcards feature striking black-and-white images depicting animals, patterns, fruit and veg, plants and flowers and weather. The 30 cards are made from responsibly-sourced material and printed in soy ink. They also have rounded corners that won’t hurt your baby if he or she grabs them, and they’re robust. “I have used these cards every day for weeks and they still look brand new,” enthused tester Nin, mum of a 3-month-old, who found them great for tummy time to help encourage her baby to lift and turn his head. She added “the cards come in a smart box, making them easy to store and a lovely gift.”
In the words of the tester Claire, mum of a newborn: “These sensory flashcards provide a great way to improve your baby's focus and vision. Over a number of weeks we noticed an improvement in my daughter’s ability to focus, track the cards and concentrate. My husband also found these to be a valuable bonding tool as he told stories based around the flashcards.”
Bronze – Mama Journals Childhood Memory Journal £39.99
Why it’s a winner: Praised by our tester Ellouise, mum of a 7-month-old, for its “well-laid out pages”, “high quality” and “contemporary style”, this special memory book helps you record your baby’s journey from pregnancy, birth and newborn days to their 18th birthday, via milestones such as first day at primary school. There’s plenty of space for words, photos and artwork, as well as “lovely little tips and prompts” to ensure every treasured moment and memory is noted. The book is available in a choice of 4 soft colours with thick, durable covers designed to stand the test of time.
In the words of the tester Shelley, mum of 3: “The journal is absolutely stunning and comes beautifully packaged. There are a few colour choices and an option to get the cover personalised with your baby's initials, which is a nice touch. Plus, I like that it goes up to 18 years old as many baby journals do not. Expensive, yes, but itt’s worth the price because it will easily become a treasured keepsake.”
Buy from: Mama Journals
Shortlisted: Colour Celebrations Milestone Cards | Colour Chronicles The Baby Book of You: A record of your first year
Subscription/gift box and services
Key features we tested/judged: Quality of products, value for money, ease of use, learning opportunities, innovation/unusual features
Joint Gold – Banjo Robinson Letter Subscription, from £3.99 per letter
Inspiring, engaging, educational and personalised, this subscription is great quality and worth the price
Why it’s a winner: This brilliantly simple service sees globe-trotting cat Banjo Robinson send a personalised letter to your child twice a month, prompting them to write a reply. The letters are utterly engaging and convincing – both our child testers, neither of whom are usually very keen or reading or writing, immediately penned their replies. “The content of the letter is fantastic and the designs colourful and eye-catching,” explained one tester. The first letter comes with a big map your child can use to follow Banjo’s journey around the world, collecting stickers and learning with each delivery.
In the words of tester Jodie, mum of 1: “I struggle to get my six-year-old to do his writing for school but on receiving Banjo’s letter, he couldn’t wait to reply. I found him downstairs at 7am writing his letter before breakfast! He was terribly excited to post his response and is eagerly anticipating Banjo’s next letter.”
Buy from: Banjo Robinson
Joint Gold – kiddiekin Story Sack Club, £32 per month
My son loved listening to the story and pulling the tabs on the story book which was the perfect size for little hand
Why it’s a winner: Designed to encourage an early love of reading, this lovingly curated book subscription service arrives in a “well-made” sustainable hand-sewn themed sack stuffed with age-appropriate (babies to toddlers) toys, puzzles and games, plus (and according one tester, “most importantly”) a teatime treat for parents. Each board book has pull-out flaps, which proved a terrific hit with all our child testers, as did the “quality wooden toys” which were played with repeatedly both along with, and independently of, the book.
In the words of tester Amy, mum of 2: “I loved this product so much I’ve signed up for next month’s sack. I adored seeing my boys’ excitement when they saw each lovely item; there is so much play potential and everything has been played with several times. The whole box is clearly really well thought through. I can’t wait to receive our next one!”
Buy from: kiddiekin
Joint Silver – Tales by Mail, £22-£117 / from £22 for a bi-monthly subscription
Why it’s a winner: “Fantastic,” “good quality” and “absorbing” were just some of the ways our testers described this book subscription service aimed at children between 8 and 12 years old. Alongside 2 books they will receive exclusive author letters and signed book plates, plus activity pages, quizzes, games and challenges. Our child tester Maisie loved the book that she received and enjoyed “getting to know the main character”, while her older brother, 10-year-old Theo, most liked reading the author’s letter accompanying the book as it helped him “understand the inspiration behind the story.”
In the words of tester Collette, mum of 3: “My 8-year-old daughter and 10- year-old son have been enthralled by the books and eager to go to bed early to find out what will happen next in their stories - which is an added bonus! They also love the seeing the authors’ signatures and letters. The subscription has reignited their love of books.”
Buy from: Tales by Mail
Joint Silver – Little Cooks Co Healthy Kids Cooking Kit, from £8.33
Why it’s a winner: This impressed our testers for giving young cooks the confidence to get into the kitchen and bake healthy and tasty treats – there’s no refined sugar involved. With all the dry, organic ingredients measured out in compostable bags, there’s no need for scales or big bags of flour, you just need wet ingredients, such as eggs and milk. “It makes cooking easier as the majority of ingredients are included and ready to use,” said tester Samantha, mum of 2, who baked “a lovely carrot cake” with her kids. As well as 2 recipes and ingredients, each kit contains extras to promote food growing and sustainability, such as seeds packets and mindfulness activities.
In the words of the tester Michelle, mum of 3: “This is amazing and definitely worth the money, particularly as it gets children off screens and into the kitchen to learn the life skill of cooking. It couldn’t have been easier to use, with clearly labelled ingredients, simple instructions and healthy recipes. The finished product was delicious.”
Buy from: Little Cooks
Bronze – ZaZa's Storybox Baby and Toddler Subscription Box, £18.99
Why it’s a winner: You and your baby will be having so much fun reading and playing with the contents of this box, you won’t notice you’re developing your child’s language and listening skills and improving their fine motor skills. Squarely aimed at 0 to 2-year-olds, every box includes 2 age-appropriate books – made from board, cloth or plastic for the bath – and a well-made toy relevant to the theme of the books, plus some parent treats. Our tester Stephanie, mum of 3, found the tips on how to read and engage better with your baby, “very effective.” She loved how she kept her baby “entertained and engaged” with the bath books – “one of them squeaked and the other changed colour, which my baby loved.”
In the words of the tester Kirsty, mum of 1: “It can be difficult to catch my 1-year-old’s attention but he sat down immediately when I opened the cardboard box, then held the toys whilst I read to him and played along. The books and very interactive and I’d completely recommend this subscription.”
Buy from: Zaza’s Storybox
Shortlisted: Babies First Year Subscription Package - The Little Sensory Box | Beans&Sparks Club
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