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MFM Awards 2022 Winners – Lifestyle: travel, fashion, books, toys and gifts

Award-winning products tried and tested by families, highlighting the best lifestyle products including kids fashion, travel, books, play items, subscription boxes and gifts

Lifestyle: travel, fashion, books, toys and gifts

Our lifestyle categories include everything from travel cots to outdoor clothing and books, and our home testers really got stuck in testing a wide range of entries, from cool sunglasses to subscription meal services. Eager swimmers put swim nappies to the test, while budding bookworms got their pick of amazing new releases for all ages, including handmade creations with the potential to become family heirlooms.

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Testing criteria varied depending on category, but we looked deeply at performance as well as appearance: items for the sun were checked to ensure they offered maximum UV protection, travel cots were folded up and down multiple times and mattresses tested for firmness and breathability, while play products like baby gyms and playpens were tested for durability as well as appearance. School shoes were put through their paces on the playground, and numerous subscription services were unboxed with great care by families all across the country.

Regardless of the criteria, our team of judges scored carefully to ensure only the best products in all categories have scored a win this year.

See the winners in:

Key features we tested/judged — Effectiveness, ease of use, travel-friendly features, quality, durability, worth the money

Gold – Splash About The Happy Nappy DUO, £17

I love how solid matter is kept contained in the nappy, while the silver in the lining helps kill harmful bacteria and viruses
Parent tester Heidi, who tested this with their 18 month old

Why it’s a winner: Described as an “improved version of what was already a much-loved top performer” by one of our judges, the Happy Nappy DUO has a new silver lining that makes the swimming nappy more sanitary and protects not only the wearer, but also other swimmers. The silver ions work to destroy any bacteria or viruses inside the nappy, making them harmless if they leak into the pool when mixed with wee or water. Since these pathogens can cause illnesses, the idea is that wearing this nappy helps keep the pool safer. Our testers loved the nappy’s sustainability, noting “you don’t ever have to buy reusable swim nappies again, making it great for the environment and your wallet” – as well as the gorgeous selection of prints on the UPF50+ sun protection neoprene fabric.

In the words of parent tester Davina, who tested this with their 5 month old: “The fabric and sewing are such high quality, it’s perfectly simple to use, and the silver lining – which repels bacteria and pathogens – gives peace of mind.”

Buy from: Amazon and Splash About

Silver – koo-di Oopsie Do Do Wetec Seat Protector, £10

Why it’s a winner: “So easy to pop on and off in seconds” thanks to its universal fit and simple design, this towelling pad has a waterproof backing that soaks up water from nappy breaches, potty training accidents and even soggy beach bums. Our parent tester Anita put it through its paces with her 18 month old and found the mat really worked, noting “it’s easily machine washed and, after four washes, didn’t lose its shape or texture.” After keeping her difficult-to-clean car seat cover completely dry, Anita now considers the seat protector “a must-have product for children of all ages”.

In the words of parent tester Phoebe, who tested this with their 20 month old: “Well made, easy to use with any car seat and absolutely worth the price, this mat is a reassuring and useful tool for any parent keen to protect car seats from nappy leaks and potty training accidents.”

Buy from: Jojo Maman Bebe, Amazon, Kidly and Koo-di

Joint Bronze – Vital Baby Hygiene Aquaint Sanitising Water – Travel Size, £2.49 for 50ml

Why it’s a winner: This “must-have” sanitiser is remarkably tough on bacteria – it kills 99.9% in seconds – yet gentle on skin. Our tester Jessie found “it didn’t dry out the skin” of her 11-month-old baby, unlike other sanitisers they’ve tried. The sanitising water is fragrance and alcohol free so suitable for those with allergic or sensitive skin (it’s even endorsed by Allergy UK), and leaves no residue, so there’s no need to rinse. Because it’s suitable for use on objects (think dropped dummies, changing tables, ‘shared’ toys) and people (including their faces and mouths), our testers and judges felt it was really useful for both travel and home.

In the words of parent tester Samantha, who tested this with their 1 month old: “Easy to find in shops, very affordable and simple to use, this handy spray is the perfect size to take out and about in your handbag or changing bag, helping keep you and your baby protected from germs.”

Buy from: Boots, Jojo Maman Bebe and Amazon

Joint Bronze – Babiators Originals, from £22.50

Why it’s a winner: All our testers and their parents were bowled over by these effective and stylish sunglasses which offer total UVA and UVB protection and are very tough thanks to shatter resistant lenses and a flexible frame “that could withstand being pulled on and off by a child”. They come in a range of styles, from fun flowers to more classic navigators. Our parent testers found the protection the glasses offered from the sun’s harmful rays reassuring, while their children thought the glasses looked “super cool” and found them comfortable to wear. Parent tester Ruth, whose three sons aged 2, 4 and 5 all tested the Babiators, praised the quality of the glasses and the promise of a free replacement pair if your glasses get broken or lost within the one year of purchase.

In the words of parent tester Sian, who tested these with their 2 year old: “A fab product, in terms of design, safety, durability and fit. Made from smooth plastic that feel comfortable, these stylish glasses stay in place face, meaning she’s more likely to keep wearing them.”

Buy from: Amazon, Kidly and Babiators

Shortlisted: Beach Powder | SavviSand | Tidy Tot Snack & Doodle


Key features we tested/judged — Effectiveness, ease of use, travel-friendly features, quality, durability, worth the money

Gold – Splash About UV Sun & Sea Suit, £25

Great quality, clever design and a brilliant at keeping children warm in cooler water, and safe from the sun
Parent tester Abi, who tested this with their 1 year old

Why it’s a winner: This supple suit is made from neoprene in the body to help maintain core temperature and nylon in the arms and side panels “for easy fit, comfort of movement and longevity” – one tester felt it would fit for two summers, making it great value. Our testers also praised the high quality of the suit, especially the “thick lip along the zip to stop the fabric catching” and noted the zip (which is at the back) makes the suit easy to take on and off, even for a toddler. The UPF 50+ sun protection offered by the suit “takes the worry out of being in the sun” while the “eye-catching colours and prints stand out in a busy pool or beach.”

In the words of parent tester Eleanor, who tested this with their 2 year old: “The neoprene material feels soft, washes nicely and ensures a good fit for my active toddler, while the three-quarter sleeves and legs help keep your child warm and protected from UV rays.”

Buy from: Amazon and Splash About

Joint Silver – Babiators Blue Series, £28.50 – £38

Why it’s a winner: Our testers raved about the quality and durability of these cool sunglasses, which “fit well, are comfy and do a great job of protecting little eyes” from the sun’s damaging rays. Like the other range of Babiator sunglasses, the Blue Series features UV400 lenses that offer total UVA and UVB protection but with the addition of mirrored polarised lenses which help reduce glare and improve children’s visibility when the sun is shining. Tester Katey’s three-year-old daughter found they were “really good at keeping the sun out” of her eyes. All our judged were impressed by the tough rubber frame with impact- and shatter-resistant lenses that can withstand bending, twisting and getting stepped on – we stamped on them with chunky adult boots and they still didn’t break!

In the words of parent tester Victoria, who tested these with their 1 year old: “Lightweight, stylish, easy to take off and put on – and with a brilliant guarantee covering the glasses for a year if they are lost or broken – these brilliant sunglasses are definitely worth the money.”

Buy from: Amazon, Kidly and Babiators

Joint Silver – Trunki Lola the Llama Trunki, £39.99

Why it’s a winner: “A no-brainer” for families with young children that like to take holidays, this two-in-one ride-on toy and wheelie case is a joy to behold thanks to its fun unisex design. Tester Abi’s three-year-old daughter couldn’t wait to sit on the saddle and be pulled along by her mum, who was impressed by how much could fit inside (it has an 18-litre capacity). Thoughtful features include lockable catches with the key on the tow strap, horn grips to help steer and a teddy bear seatbelt. It’ll make the airport dash less stressful and help your child get involved in packing and preparing for a trip away.

In the words of parent tester Lisamarie, who tested this with their 4 year old: “This feels sturdy and strong enough for my daughter to sit on yet light enough for her to pull herself, and it was easy to manoeuvre using the adjustable strap. There’s enough room inside for my daughter to pack her things for a weekend away or hand luggage on a longer trip.”

Buy from: Trunki and Very

Bronze – CarGoSeat, £39.99

Why it’s a winner: This pull-along car booster seat doubles as a travel case, allowing your child to stow up to 10 litres of ‘essentials’ inside. Parent tester Asma declared the seat “sturdy, practical and worth the money” while her seven-year-old daughter was delighted it came in her favourite colour (there’s a choice of four “eye-catching and appealing” hues). Our testers were reassured the sleek and modern booster seat meets current UK safety regulations (ECE R44/04) for children who weigh 22 to 36kg and are at least 125cm tall.

In the words of parent tester Petya, who tested this with their 7 year old: “An amazing two-in-one travel solution that’s easy to use, saves space and keeps everything well organised. It is excellent quality and my kids absolutely love how they can open it themselves.”

Buy from: Amazon and Car Go Seat

Shortlisted: Close Pop-in Playmat | DockATot Cabana Kit


Key features we tested/judged — Effectiveness, ease of use, mattress firmness, quality/design, ease of construction and folding, storage size and weight, worth the money, comfort for baby

Gold – Bugaboo Stardust, £199

Very lightweight, easy to unfold/fold, and the built-in mattress makes setting the cot up even easier
Parent tester Charlotte, who tested this with their 7 month old

Why it’s a winner: This ultra-comfy and high quality travel cot delivered on all fronts. Our testers and judges loved the firm built-in mattress, the light weight of the cot and how easy it is to unfold (it pops open in seconds, which might just save your sanity some nights),. There’s a removable newborn bassinet for the early months, which is simple to add to the frame. “Ticks all the boxes”, “so easy to set up and put down” and the “best I have tried” were just a sample of the all-round rave reviews. Plus it folds flat rather than long and high, so it can easily be tucked under a bed or put in a car boot, and is less cumbersome to carry than many others.

In the words of parent tester Jess, who tested this with their 14 month old: “Whilst there are cheaper travel cots on the market, this product is worth the premium for ease of use, compact design and quality. The mattress is comfy but firm, and the mesh sides mean she can see me when in the cot, plus she seems as comfortable in the travel cot as she is on her usual sleep surface.”

Buy from: Bugaboo, Boots and John Lewis

Silver – Joie Kubbie Sleep, £110

Why it’s a winner: “My son slept extremely well in this,” said parent tester Georgina, who felt the cot was “very well made and stylish-looking”.  This pop-up cot also gained plaudits for the fact you didn’t need to fiddle with zips, button or poles to set it up (not fun when you’ve just driven 8 hours to a holiday cottage). It does take a few minutes to set up but the benefit of that is is also folds down into a small rectangle about the size of a golf bag. There’s a newborn bassinet attachment, and you can drop down the side to turn it into a co-sleeper too. The wheels for moving it around are also nice touch. It is a little on the small side, however, so our home testers felt it was best bought early on to ensure you get the most for your money.

In the words of parent tester Lowri, who tested this with their 11 month old: “Great quality, lightweight and incredibly easy to set up so can be done alone – no need for anyone’s help. I can access my son easily due to the zip-down side, so it’s good for night feeding. He goes straight to sleep in this, so it must be extremely comfortable. Ideal for any size bedroom, too.”

Buy from: Boots, John Lewis and Argos

Bronze – Red Kite Dreamer Bedside Crib, £59.99

Why it’s a winner: This travel cot is perfect for families on a budget looking for a safe and affordable option that’ll work for sleepy newborns as well as older babies. It has a removable bassinet with a drop-down side that turns it into a travel bedside crib, a feature that was much appreciated with our exhausted-but-vigilant parents. It also folds down neatly and easily. Some testers did find the mattress slightly on the hard side, but overall it represents really great value with lots of features at a good price. “It’s compact and well-supported,” said our home tester Flera, who tried it with their 5 month old.

In the words of tester Bridget, who tested this with their 4 month old: “I really feel this is absolutely worth every penny as a travel cot…it really caters for families with a newborn up to toddler age who love to travel or have a small budget and want something that lasts a while. It folds down really small and comes with a handy bag to put it in. This means it takes up little space in home storage or the car. Overall, I’m really impressed and it will last for years.”

Buy from: Argos and Kiddies Kingdom


Key features we tested/judged — Comfort and fit for the child, worth the money, quality and design of clothing, ease of washing and care

Gold – Frugi’s Spring Summer Collection 2022, £12 to £70

Gorgeous soft fabrics, fun and playful prints and generous sizes offering room to grow
MFM judge, Gemma Cartwright

Why it’s a winner: Our home testers were impressed with Frugi’s fun, bright clothing, and really enjoyed the strong focus on unisex prints and colours in practical shapes and styles. Although the prices are quite high, overall our testers and judges felt they were worth the investment. “Very well made and feels like it will last…my son even commented how soft it was,” said home tester Emma, who tested the clothing with their 6-year-old son.  Home testers reported “no bobbling or fade” after washing, and noted that this brand has great resale value on account of its durability. Speaking of being good for the planet, judges and home testers were also impressed by the brand’s focus on being as sustainable and ethical as possible.

In the words of parent tester Emma, who tested this with their 6 year old: “The colour and style stands out to me a lot more than high street clothes and are a lot more magical and child friendly (I love the phrase ‘dress kids as kids’). My daughter always says she feels like a princess when wearing Frugi Skater dresses. It flairs right out when she spins. We get many comments / compliments when out and about when my daughters are wearing Frugi.”

Buy from: Frugi

Joint Silver – Sue and Samuel Leggings and Hat, £13 & £8.99

Why it’s a winner: The Sue and Samuel leggings and hat were praised as an excellent choice for a baby gift by our judges. Home testers felt they were high quality and loved the fact that they are all hand made. “To wash was pretty simple and also drying it in the washer-dryer was absolutely fine. I did not notice any negative issues such as shrinking or fading,” said home tester Ruddi, who tested this with their 4 month old. Although babies grow out of clothes notoriously fast, there is some longevity with the leggings as you have the option to roll the waist band, and the generous harem style will also work for cloth nappy users.

In the words of parent tester Danielle, who tested this with their 2 month old: “I really loved everything about the leggings, hat and headband. The print is gorgeous, the fit was great, the fabric was great quality. I’ve already been telling friends about Sue and Samuels and will be buying from them in future.”

Buy from: Sue and Samuel

Joint Silver – Blade and Rose Highland Cow Range, £3.50 to £25

Why it’s a winner:  Blade & Rose is mostly known for its range of knitted leggings with patterned bums, but our home testers and judges also tested tops, socks and a newly-launched hoodie, which they thought was “amazing quality”. The ever-popular leggings and matching items definitely got the thumbs up, with one tester saying, “my energetic toddler showcases all sorts of acrobatics wearing it!” The range was also a huge hit with our influencer judges, who scored it highly for quality, design and value for money. Parents reported that “washing was a breeze”, although the thick hoodie does take a while to dry. Perhaps the biggest compliment for this range comes from one 3-year-old tester who, according to her mum Daisy, “asks to wear it day after day!”

In the words of parent tester Emma, who tested this with their 2 year old: The whole family loved this outfit on our son. It really is an adorable, versatile set at an affordable price. The outfit is undoubtedly good quality; the materials are soft, well-made and cosy. Lots of thought has clearly gone into the character design and the choice of colours.”

Buy from: Blade and Rose

Bronze – Nutmeg at Morrisons, £2.75 to £16

Why it’s a winner: Nutmeg at Morrisons’s affordable range of clothing for kids and babies impressed our judges and home testers with its variety, fun designs and great little details, like printed labels at the neck instead of sewn-in ones, proving that this range is willing to go that extra mile to protect children’s sensitive skin. Parent tester Janet, who tried the range with her 11 month old, praised the “stylish designs “and felt the range “has such a modern feel to it that I absolutely love.” Another tester felt the clothes were “great quality compared to other similar priced brands.” The only downside is a lack of access in some areas: one judge found that the online range could only be bought using click and collect, meaning you need a Morrisons store nearby.

In the words of parent tester Chloe, who tested this with their 3 month old: “The sleepsuits were easy to wash, (I always wash whites at 40 degrees) came out perfectly clean with no bobbling and dried by next morning when left out on airier overnight. My baby boy looks very content and the super soft fabric will make sure he’s nice and snug.”

Buy from: Morrisons


Key features we tested/judged — Comfort for the child, worth the money, quality and design, durability, fit, effectiveness outdoors

Gold – Muddy Puddles EcoWarm Insulated Puddlesuit, £65

Fantastic quality waterproof all-in-one that has been well designed to last!
Editorial judge, Magda Ibrahim

Why it’s a winner: Created from recycled fabrics, the EcoWarm Puddlesuit was described as “cosy and completely waterproof” by our home testers, who loved the combination of waterproof outer and cosy polar fleece lining. They also felt “the quality is second to none.” This waterproof puddlesuit is designed keep children dry and protected whilst still being breathable and comfortable underneath, and home tester Stacey, who tested this with their 3 year old, confirmed it “does everything it claims to.” Our editorial judges found that it repelled water very well, and loved the extra little details like the double fastening for extra security.

In the words of parent tester Aston, who tested this with their 3 year old: “The design is great. The thickness is amazing. I love that even though it is thick she was still able to run around and climb up some mountains in it so it definitely doesn’t restrict her movement (which we have found in previous brands). The fact that it is eco conscious and made from recycled products was a major high point for all of us.”

Buy from: Muddy Puddles

Silver – Kidunk ECO Suit, £27.49 – £69.99

Why it’s a winner: An innovative 2-piece for those rainy adventure days, the Kidunk Eco Suit is tough and durable on the outside but comfortable on the inside. Zips connect the teflon-coated jacket and trousers together at the waist which “makes life easier when going for the inevitable toilet trip,” according to one of our judges. Although our testers did note the high price tag, they felt the “top-quality material” makes this suit a worthy purchase, and the fact it can be worn as separates or a suit gives extra options in changeable weather. Made using 100% recycled materials, this adventure suit is also eco-friendly and caters to children between 1-8 years.

In the words of parent tester Lucy, who tested this with their 3 year old: “My little boy wore this item for woodland walks as well as days out at a theme park and playground and was comfortable all day, even when it poured with rain and was incredibly cold and muddy. The lightweight material also means it’s still comfortable when it’s slightly milder but you need something to keep them dry.”

Buy from: Kidunk

Bronze – Dry Kids, £7.65 to £34.95

Why it’s a winner: Dry Kids outerwear offers a wide variety of waterproofs in various lovely colours at a very competitive price. Judges and home testers described the range as good value for money, and praised the level of water resistance and details like taped seams that are usually only found on more expensive offerings. Another thing that stood out to the testers was just how versatile the all-in-one suit was, with one parent describing it as “great for everyday wear and use in all seasons.” To add a finishing touch, there’s the option to personalise the items with an embroidered name: both fun and practical for school trips!

In the words of parent tester Jude, who tested this with their 5 year old: “Having had many, many puddlesuits and waterproof variations over the years (between two outdoorsy children I think I’ve tried most other brands!) I would say without doubt this is the best quality garment I’ve had and would highly recommend. My 5 year old says ‘it’s comfy and good for running’, she had a good sit and wiggle in the mud to check it and said, ‘I am still nice and warm and dry inside!'”

Buy from: Dry Kids and Amazon


Key features we tested/judged – Comfort for the child, worth the money, quality and design of swimwear, quality after wash, swimwear fit, effectiveness

Gold – Close Pop-in Beach Suit, £21.99

My son likes the bright colours and enjoys pointing out the rays on the top
Parent tester Ruth, who tested this with their 2 year old

Why it’s a winner: Close’s all-in-one swimwear option scored very high marks across the board, and was described as a “exceptionally well thought out, stylish and quality item.” Made from sustainable UPF 50+ protective fabric, the beach suit was also noted for its “lovely soft smooth material with nice bright colours.” The size range begins at around 6 months and goes right up to age 4 years+. Judges and testers particularly liked the built-in hat for optimal sun protection.

In the words of parent tester Eloise, who tested this with their 8 month old: “The Pop-in Beach All-in-One is a lovely soft material and a beautiful design. I felt confident in the fact that her nappy was safe under the suit and it covered her well compared to other swim suits. The integral hat is perfect for the beach and with it being attached I can be comforted in knowing its not going to end up lost! ”

Buy from: Close and Amazon

Silver – Splash About Baby & Children’s Swimwear Collection, £10-27

Why it’s a winner: A lot of research has gone into the creation of Splash About’s Swimwear collection, for instance, their swim nappy kills faecal bacteria before it enters the pool! Made using quality fabrics that offer UPF50+ sun protection, the bright and colourful swimwear collection consists of nappies, wetsuits, sunsuits, learn- to-swim buoyancy aid floatsuits all while being inclusive of those with skin conditions such as eczema. Splash About swimwear is even recommended by swim schools. Our influencer judge Alex Obekho noted that the swimwear “quality is unparalleled” after trying it with her twins.

In the words of parent tester Katie, who tested this with their 2 year old: “Overall, we are really impressed with this set and really enjoyed testing these products. My son seemed very happy and very comfortable wearing these and that made us comfortable whilst being in the water. The vest makes it easier for us to support him whilst swimming.”

Buy from: Splash About and Amazon

Bronze – Konfidence Splashy Swim Nappy Made with E-Flex, £11.99

Why it’s a winner: At a relatively affordable price, Konfidence impressed our judges and testers its sustainable swim nappies, although testers did universally recommend sizing up for the best fit. Made with e-flex fabric that comprises of a combination of nylon, polyester and recycled plastic, these nappies also have a soft, fleecy lining that our home tester described as “appealing”, saying it “made it comfortable for my daughter to wear”. The nappies come in a range of lovely, beach inspired fun designs and are available in size 0-30 months.

In the words of parent tester Kirsty, who tested this with their 1 year old: “The soft lining was fantastic and my favourite feature of the product. The design was bright and colourful so appealing to younger children and also age appropriate to wear. The quality was good.”

Buy from: Konfidence and Amazon

Key features we tested/judged — Comfort for the child, worth the money, quality and design of shoes, shoe fit and give in sole and uppers

Gold – Start Rite School Shoes, £39.99 to £64.99

They look nice, clean easily and still look fantastic after wearing them every day.
Parent tester Tammy, who tested these with their 6 year old

Why it’s a winner: These thoughtfully-engineered school shoes by Start-Rite provide children with something durable and practical for everyday wear. “The price range is what I would usually expect to pay for good quality school shoes,” said parent tester Tammy, who tested these with their 6-year-old son. “They are very sturdy and feel very supportive,” she added. Our editorial judges felt the shoes were sturdy and well constructed to withstand movements during various activities.

In the words of parent tester Claire, who tested this with their 8 year old: “My daughter loved the shoes, both the design and how comfy they are. Because they have different width fittings you can be assured that they will fit properly…I could see from how she walked in them that they fit really well and supported her feet. I like that her ankles are properly supported as this is so important when she’s walking and running about for at least 6 hours a day in them.”

Buy from: Start Rite, John Lewis and Amazon

Silver – Bobux’s AW21 Collection, £22 to £75

Why it’s a winner: Bobux shoes scored well on performance, quality and appearance, with one of our judges praising their “stylish design and bright vivid colours.” Although these shoes were considered more on the expensive side, judges and testers felt this was justified by their high quality and eye-catching designs. MFM judge Gemma loved the “soft, flexible soles that are perfect for toddlers and first walkers.” Our testers used the online measuring tool to get the right fit, and were surprised to find “no issues with sizing at all” when the shoes arrived, which was a big plus for a brand sold solely (no pun intended) online.

In the words of parent tester Katy, who tested this with their 4 year old: “I think the quality is really strong. The soles (made of rubber) have good grip and have so far worn well. The stitching is neat and not coming loose anywhere. The leather upper is soft and flexible on her feet. My daughter has said that they are really comfortable, she has not complained at all about fit or discomfort.”

Buy from: Bobux

Bronze – KEEN Newport Shoe, £50

Why it’s a winner: Made from highly durable leather and performance mesh, Keen’s Newport shoes impressed our judges and home testers with their durability. They are “easy to put on and adjust with elastic, toggles and Velcro rather than laces,” and are designed to work for all kinds of activities. The Newport shoe also features a rubber toe bumper which is scratch and scuff resistant and protects children while out and about. They come in a range of lovely bright colours to choose from and our tester testified saying “my son loved the rainbow design on the top part of the shoe.” Although they are an investment, MFM judge Gemma noted “these could be the only shoes an active preschooler would need year-round.”

In the words of parent tester Nikita, who tested these with their 3 year old: “My son loved these shoes from the moment he put them on! They were super comfy, lightweight, and very hardwearing. He never complained about being uncomfortable and now asks to wear them whenever we go out for walks! The quality is of these shoes is great, my son has worn them whilst climbing, riding his balance bike, and splashing in muddy puddles.”

Buy from: KEEN Footwear


Key features we tested/judged — Appeal, quality of product, value for money, design, unique concept

Gold – 100 Things to Know, £9.99

The information is concise, educational and often written with humour, and the illustrations are playful
Parent tester Laura, who tested this with their 8 year old

Why it’s a winner: Perfect for children who enjoy fact sharing, this series of books covers great topics including Saving the Planet. Our testers found the books insightful, useful, and well thought-out. Tester Laura, who tested this with her 8 year old, remarked, “I like the size of these books – they are neat and easy to pick up and browse through. The design is engaging and entertaining and the hardback covers mean they can withstand children’s ‘rough and tumble’ nature.” It’s currently a 9 book series with a 10th on the way.

In the words of parent tester Anna, who tested this with their 8 year old: “The language is pitched perfectly for him and the visuals are clearly stimulating as his eyes light up looking around different areas of the page. I’d definitely recommend this set of books as they will pique the curiosity of any child and, as a bonus, distract them from screens!”

Buy from: Books2Door and Amazon

Silver – If I had… Series, from £7.99

Why it’s a winner: Colourful and very collectible, the If I had… series of books about animals engaged our testers from the first page. “My son particularly liked the fact there was a space at the beginning of each book to write his name! The books are all very colourful as well as keeping his interest,” observed parent tester Amanda, who tested this with her 5 year old. Our testers enjoyed joining the main character throughout this 5 book series, as she explores having different pets ranging from a sloth to a kangaroo.

In the words of parent tester Mehek, who tested this with their 3 year old: “The animal on the front cover is printed with a texture which is an added bonus. For example, ‘If I had a dinosaur’ is printed with a texture of scales. The book also includes comedy within, where you see the animals poo, my daughter loves this part!”

Buy from: Amazon


Key features we tested/judged — Appeal, quality of product, value for money, design, unique concept, age suitability

Gold – The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers, £14.99

Loved it! Funny, engaging and a little spooky
Parent tester Janet, who tested this with their 11 year old

Why it’s a winner: Funny, spooky, and featuring stories from around the world, all our judges and testers loved The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers. Perfect for Halloween – or any time of the year – these retold fairy tales go where Disney won’t! Our judges were happy to see diverse representation that’s perfect for modern young audiences. Parent tester Janet, who tested this with their 11 year old, commented, “I love a fairy tale and this spooky retelling of tales definitely grabbed both my daughters and reignited their love of short fairy tales.”

In the words of parent tester Janet, who tested this with their 2 daughters: “Loved it from the title page to the very last lines of the book. It grabbed both my girls aged 9 and 11 they found it engaging and funny. Multiple stories we read and reread them together and I have no doubt we’ll read them again.”

Buy from: Waterstones and Amazon

Silver – Black Artists Shaping the World, £14.99

Why it’s a winner: Black Artists Shaping the World is a stunningly presented and gorgeous page turner. Parent tester Tenisha, who tested this with their 11 year old observed it was “definitely a more stylish grown up type book in comparison to the books we normally buy.” Overall, the book was felt to be outstanding and best enjoyed when shared with family. It offers great value for money: parent tester Janet, who tested this with their 9 year old, adds “A timeless collection of carefully curated art that uplift and inspire for £14.99?! Bargain!”

In the words of parent tester Janet, who tested this with their 9 year old: “As we went through the pages of the book, if often felt like being at a wonderful art gallery exhibition. We could stop and admire the artwork, talk about the inspiration, even the artist’s own story and background. The global selection added a bit of geography to our discussions.”

Buy from: WH Smith, Waterstones and Amazon


Key features we tested/judged — Appeal, quality of product, worth the money, design, unique concept, age suitability

Gold – Dart and Dive Across the Reef, £12.99

What an amazing book! Strong and hard wearing but also beautiful and fascinating
Parent tester Jamie, who tested this with their 5 year old

Why it’s a winner: Exquisitely illustrated, colourful, intriguing and perfect for the family to read together, Dart and Dive Across the Reef ticked every box for our testers and proved that nonfiction can be just as engaging as story books. Flora and fauna in marine environments come to life in breathtaking detail and educational facts are delivered in engaging and age-appropriate way. Parent tester Jamie, who tested this with their 5 year old, said, “the information inside is insightful and fun. The drawings themselves are absolutely beautiful. It really gets children excited and interested in nature.”

In the words of parent tester Jodie, who tested this with their 7 year old: “This is a very nice book for children who are interested in the natural world. It introduces the underwater world of reefs, the animals in and around them across the oceans. It is definitely a book that would be used many times, as there is so much information.”

Buy from: Waterstones, Amazon and WH Smith

Silver – A History of Music for Children, £14.99

Why it’s a winner: With music having such an important role in our lives, it makes sense to give children an enjoyable introduction. A History of Music for Children does not disappoint. Parent tester Rachel, who tested this with their 5 year old, commented, “We found it to be an inspiring book, exploring the past, present and future of music and the many aspects of music such as writing and composing which my child loved – not to mention the performing!” Some of our testers felt the content slightly more mature for younger children but felt they’d come back to the book over the years.

In the words of parent tester Carla, who tested this with their 7 year old: “This book is perfect for children. It’s very informative and beautifully illustrated. If they love music, want to know more about how music came about, how it’s changed and learn about icons then this is definitely the one.”

Buy from: Waterstones, Amazon and WH Smith

Joint Bronze – Billy and the Mini Monsters: Monsters Go Green, £5.99

Why it’s a winner: Ranking high for age suitability with our testers, this book kept young readers engaged and happy to read alone. “The fact this book is set out with lots of pictures, comic strips and not full of paragraphs is brilliant. My 7 year old finds reading boring especially with reading books from school, but this book caught his attention straight away,” commented parent tester Emma. She continues, “The words used in the book are funny and the characters names have my child laughing while reading, this really helps him keep engaged with the book.”

In the words of parent tester Caroline, who tested this with their 6 year old: “My son said he enjoyed the story and they are learning all about how to save the planet at school so he can tell his teacher about the book. As a parent I think it is good that there are some words which he seeks help with as it encourages him to share his reading with us as parents.”

Buy from: WH Smith, Waterstones and Amazon

Joint Bronze – Elfie’s Christmas Advent Letter Bundle, £38.95

Why it’s a winner: Described by our testers as more of an experience than a book, the high price point makes this a special treat and Christmas gift. Each letter is personalised and forms a series of chapters building on the story of the Big Delivery preparations for Santa. Parent tester Jenny, who tested this with their 5 year old said, “This truly was a magical Christmas experience for our daughter. She enjoyed the joy of finding and reading the letters. It really got her ready for Christmas as each letter explained what process the elves and Santa were at!”

In the words of parent tester Karen, who tested this with their 7 year old: “Love the quality of the story and drawing on each page. Very child focused and kid friendly. My 7 year old thought it was magical. The paper is thick and professional and lots of colours make every page different and interesting.”

Buy from: International Elf Service, Not on the High Street and Etsy


Key features we tested/judged — Value for money, product design, quality, durability, story, learning opportunities, suitability for age group

Gold – Buddy & Barney | Farmyard Farts – Scratch ‘n’ Sniff, Lift-the-Flap Book, £7.99

A great book! Loved the scratch and sniff. The smells are amazing and would really entertain children
Editorial judge, Jenny Yu

Why it’s a winner: We never would have thought scratch ‘n’ sniff farts would work so well but they were a big hit with our testers! There are hilarious frolics aplenty as the farmyard characters in this book let rip. “All of the scents still smell really strong despite my daughter frequently scratching and sniffing the pages! The illustrations are lovely and bright and the flaps are sturdy so it’s great for younger children,” remarked parent tester Cali who tested this with their 4 year old. All testers agreed the book is lots of fun and a great gift for friends with kids, teaching them about farm animals in a humorous, interactive way.

In the words of parent tester Tina, who tested this with their 4 year old: “Does what it says on the cover and all the scratch and sniff elements worked which I thought was a really original concept. I do enjoy books that rhyme and all the artwork is really bright and engaging.”

Buy from: Amazon

Silver – First Questions and Answers: What is racism?, £9.99

Why it’s a winner: An important topic well tackled, First Questions and Answers: What is racism? aims to equip young readers with the answers they need on this sensitive issue. “The subject matter and the approach to it is great, very much welcomed. The pictures are colourful, engaging and it’s an absolutely brilliant conversation starter for the child and grown ups,” commented parent tester Jayne, who tested this with their 5 year old. Our testers noted that the text was slightly wordy and maybe not ideal for a pre-schooler to read alone, however, it could be reread over the years and remain suitable when the child is older.

In the words of parent tester Christy, who tested this with their 6 year old: “These felt like heavy (but sadly necessary) issues for discussion with a child so the bite size format is a good way to introduce ideas bit by bit – we used it very much as a prompt for discussions we’re already trying to have, rather than a comprehensive guide.”

Buy from: Waterstones, Amazon and Foyles

Bronze – The Night the Moon Went Missing, £6.99

Why it’s a winner: “This isn’t the sort of book I would have usually bought for my children, but it’s really opened my eyes into the enjoyment of something outside of our comfort zone,” commented parent tester Katie, who tested this with their 4 year old. The Night the Moon Went Missing is a gentle introduction to STEM topics with unique and intricate illustrations. Katie adds, “My daughter has learnt so much from it, and won’t go to bed at night without it being read to her and seeing what new things we can find in the pictures.”

In the words of parent tester Carla, who tested this with their 5 year old: “Perfect for any child who loves the moon and loves a beautiful bedtime story. So much detail in all the illustrations. Brendan Kearney did fantastic with this book.”

Buy from: WH Smith, Waterstones and Amazon

Shortlisted: Bad Apple


Key features we tested/judged — Value for money, product design, quality, durability, story, learning opportunities, suitability for age group

Gold – Convertible Fire Engine, £19.99

A really creative & unique concept that's colourful and engaging
Parent tester Emma, who tested this with their 3 year old

Why it’s a winner: Our testers were impressed by this clever, interactive 3-in-1 book that also becomes a playmat and a fire engine with a moving steering wheel! Parent tester Margaret, who tested this with their 3 year old, observed, “My son really likes being able to change the mat into the truck and vice versa. He’s been able to use his imagination in both set ups.” Young testers also enjoyed the short story in the book and the multitude of role play opportunities. The book is perfect for encouraging literacy as well as indoor playtime as our testers used the mat with their other toys too.

In the words of parent tester Emma, who tested this with their 3 year old: “The actual storybook is lovely, it’s easy enough for toddlers to follow along without getting bored. The story also had little ‘problem solving’ activities to help keep little ones engaged.”

Buy from: Amazon and Miles Kelly

Silver – Don’t Tickle the Unicorn!, £12.99

Why it’s a winner: “The look my 20 month old had on her face and the shriek she gave the first time she heard the sounds is totally priceless!” noted parent tester Carine, who tested this with their 1 year old. This brightly-coloured and engaging book kept the attention of our young testers – some of them were even happy to continue exploring it independently. The book’s pages are interactive and there’s even a delightful tune to dance to at the end. At just 5 pages, it didn’t have the same longevity of play as our gold winner, however our testers still felt it was worth the money.

In the words of parent tester Recep, who tested this with their 10 month old: “It’s a very good sensory book for babies. The pictures are so stylish and very vivid. The fabric patches are really good quality and so soft. My daughter enjoys it every time, she loves to hear the sounds.”

Buy from: Amazon and Waterstones

Joint Bronze – If I Had a Sleepy Sloth, £6.99

Why it’s a winner: This beautifully-illustrated and engaging story kept testers both young and old enthralled. The core message of mindfulness is perfectly timed as we can probably all agree our younger generations need as many tools as possible to help them navigate growing up in a such a fast-paced world. Parent tester Tess, who tested this with their 4 year old noted how they benefitted from the sloth’s slower pace, “It got my hyperactive 4yr old to slow down and relax! A fun story with engaging illustration that has been enjoyed over and over already.”

In the words of parent tester Abi, who tested this with their 3 year old: “My son Arthur found bits very funny such as the sloth at the playground on the monkey bars as that’s what he likes to do! The rhyming element of the book kept the story going at a good pace and I find my son stays more focused on a book if it does have a rhyming pattern.”

Buy from: Waterstones, Amazon and WH Smith

Joint Bronze – Sensory Activity Fabric Book by Priya & Peanut, £20

Why it’s a winner: With one side black & white and the other colour, our testers and judged felt this book offered longevity across early learning stages. The sensory elements within the book allow little ones to touch, feel, hear and see each page. Parent tester Alexandra, who tested this with their 3 month old, commented, “Given my daughters’ age, she really engaged with the black and white side. She found the contrasting patterns stimulating and really enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror.” A perfect new baby gift, parents will especially appreciate how engaging it is during times such as nappy changes.

In the words of parent tester Rosie, who tested this with their 8 month old: “It’s very versatile as it can be tied into a crib, used flat or standing up. The quality is great and you can feel the time and effort put into the design. The textured part of the umbrella was my baby’s favourite part and he loved lifting up the little tabs.”

Buy from: Priya & Peanut and Etsy

Shortlisted: Jo & Nic’s Crinkly Cloth Books – Nursery Times My First Crinkly Newspaper | Magic Rainbow Quiet Book | Taf Toys Savannah Tummy Time Book


Key features we tested/judged — Effectiveness, ease of use, quality of product, child’s reaction, safety, worth the money

Gold – Le Toy Van Activity Table, £79.95

A beautiful table packed with satisfying activities – gorgeous to look at and well made
Editorial judge, Amy Burns

Why it’s a winner: Wowing our testers with its good looks and easy assembly, this wooden activity table was an instant hit with both parents and their little ones. Packed with hands-on activities – featuring everything from dials to a xylophone – parent tester Barbara, who tested it with her 22 month old, commented “I could see her dexterity and confidence increase the more she played with it.” Our testers loved the “sensory experience” it provided, its compact size and the “bright and engaging” colours. Judges were really impressed with the attractive design and sustainable materials.

In the words of parent tester Barbara, who tested this with their 22 month old: “As soon as it was assembled it caught my daughter’s attention and she loved to play independently with the table. The quality is immediately obvious, and the xylophone is actually pleasant to listen to!”

Buy from: Feel Unique, Amazon and Hello Baby Direct

Silver – MiniDream, Safari Play Gym, £45

Why it’s a winner: Perfect for even the newest babies, thanks to the soft and cosy materials used, this beautiful play gym provided lots of entertainment for our littlest testers. With teethers, crinkle toys, a squeaker and baby-safe mirror to help develop your baby’s sensory abilities, our testers felt this anti-slip mat was “very well made”, “stylish” and “definitely worth the money.” It scored highly thanks to the ease of set-up and how portable it was, with parent tester Shirin, mum to a 5-month-old baby, adding it was ideal for travelling or “taking to a baby club.”

In the words of parent tester Alice, who tested this with their 2 month old: “It’s very high quality, the material is soft, plump and has kept its shape well. It makes an ideal place to lay my son so he can explore and leave me hands-free for a while.”

Buy from: Amazon, OnBuy and MiniDream


Key features we tested/judged — Effectiveness, ease of use, quality of product, child’s reaction, safety, worth the money

Gold – Venture All Stars DUO Baby Playpens, £139.99

The design works very well, and the quality is brilliant
Parent tester Jennie, who tested this with their 11 month old

Why it’s a winner: This interactive playpen scored highly with our testers, offering the parenting Holy Grail – somewhere to keep your baby “entertained while being safe and secure at the same time.” Easy to fit together and proving plenty of space for babies and toddlers to play with their toys, our testers liked how it can be configured to different shapes by moving around the surprisingly lightweight pieces. The plastic connectors felt “sturdy” and built to last, while the foam mats were “firm and spongy”, and our testers liked the option of setting it up outside on a warm day. One of our editors even used a few panels of this to keep their Christmas tree protected from tiny hands!

In the words of parent tester Jennie, who tested this with their 11 month old: “This playpen definitely makes my life easier – I feel I can do more while I know my daughter’s in a safe environment. It’s sturdy and easy to clean, which is good for all those sticky finger prints!”

Buy from: Amazon and Venture

Silver – Babymoov 5in1 Progressive Activity Walker, £99

Why it’s a winner: This 5in1 walker, suitable for ages 6 months to 24 months, was rated a “must-buy” by parent tester Louise, who tried it out with their 10 month old, thanks to the “wide range of activities” that it offers, which include a static rocking mode as well as the wheeled walker. With plenty of lights, sounds and activities to keep babies and toddlers enthralled, the height-adjustable walker scored highly thanks to how easy it was to switch between modes and the fact it collapsed down to save space. Our testers loved how the activities grow with your child making it great value for money, and how it encouraged independent play.

In the words of parent tester Lotty, who tested this with their 7 month old: “From the moment I put my daughter in this walker she loved it. It’s entertaining, easy to move around in and will grow with my child, plus I love having her in the kitchen playing away happily while I cook the dinner.”

Buy from: Amazon and Babymoov

Bronze – Fun Play Rainbow Pebbles, £25.99

Why it’s a winner: These tactile, play pebbles are an excellent STEAM toy (fusing science and art), which our testers felt were ideal for sensory play without the mess – hooray! Included with the 36 pebbles is an activity tray and 25 activity cards, which show various patterns you can recreate yourself. Our testers thought the pebbles were “excellent quality” and the soft, rubbery texture – which got the thumbs up for the children – gave the pebbles a bit of bounce, meaning they can survive being dropped on the floor without any damage. Our editorial judges loved the open-ended play options that these provide, and felt they were the kind of toy a child may come back to years later and enjoy for a whole new set of reasons.

In the words of parent tester Rachel, who tested this with their 3 year old: “I like how easy to set up and use the toy is, and the pebbles really are lovely and brightly coloured. My daughter enjoyed stacking them and I could leave her to play with this on her own.”

Buy from: Amazon and Yes Bebe


Key features we tested/judged — Appeal to parents, quality and effectiveness, design, worth money

Gold – Hopes & Wishes For You, £8

This is a lovely, meaningful gift at a very reasonable price point
Parent tester Elizabeth, who tested this with their 1 year old

Why it’s a winner: Praised by our judges as the perfect gift and a really lovely keepsake, this book perfectly complements the joys of being a new parent with just the right hopes and wishes beautifully illustrated across its 32 pages. Our testers felt it was an inexpensive yet thoughtful gift to receive during the exciting time of welcome a new baby. Paren tester Tina, who tested this with their 4 year old noted, “It is all about a parents hopes and wishes for their child and is beautiful quality and beautifully written.”

In the words of parent tester Elizabeth, who tested this with their 1 year old: “This book would be great to read to a child as they grow to remind them how much they are loved and cherished. The message is very sweet and sentimental.”

Buy from: Waterstones and Hive Books

Silver – Newborn Gift Set by Priya & Peanut, £40

Why it’s a winner: “Premium”, “instagrammable” and “stylish” according to our testers, this newborn gift set includes sensory flashcards, a muslin, wooden milestone discs and a cuddle blanket. Parent tester Laura, who tested this with their 1 month old commented, “the quality is lovely, even down to the box and packaging. It feels super premium. I love the style of the black and white designs.” Compared to our gold category winner, there is quite a difference in price, but our judges felt it would certainly impress and make a good option for a group gift from colleagues or friends.

In the words of parent tester Rose, who tested this with their 2 month old: “Excellent quality (especially the muslin,