Parents have been given a helping hand in selecting this year’s must-have gadgets thanks to the annual toy awards.
UK parenting site MadeForMums has curated an extensive list of this year’s most coveted toys across 35 categories, as chosen by nearly 500 children of varying ages.
From a Harry Potter coding kit to a ‘my first drone’, the awards reveal the best toys for newborns and toddlers, up to pre-teens.
Each toy was assessed for its play potential, value for money and the children’s scores, combined with the verdicts of expert (grown-up) judges from the site’s editorial team.
Joining the panel were specially invited influencer judges, including YouTube stars Beau, from Beau’s Toy Farm, and ZiZi’s Kailem and Isaiah, along with UK family vloggers The Howarths and parent-led campaign group Let Toys Be Toys, and the editor of toy industry magazine and website Toy News.
Hitting the top end of the price list was a £349.99 climbing frame, a £179.95 go kart, a £669 14ft trampoline and a £119.95 toddler scooter for the outdoor lover.
Elsewhere the best video game went to Nintendo’s Paw Patrol: On a Roll, at £34.99, while the best sustainable Eco toy award went to the Petit Collage Alphabet Wooden Tray Puzzle, costing £19.95.
Meanwhile IT whiz kids are sure to love the Kano Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit, costing £79.99.
L.O.L. Surprise! 2-in-1 Glamper Playset, £100
UK parenting site MadeForMums has revealed this year’s best toys for all ages, across 35 categories. Pictured: Best playset: L.O.L Surprise! 2-in-1 Glamper Playset
What it is: The first vehicle for the L.O.L. Surprise dolls collection takes the girls on a glamorous road trip. Measuring 21.5cm x 58.5cm x 29cm, the glamper features over 10 play areas with lights and sounds, an exclusive doll and over 55 surprises to unwrap.
The front detaches to become a separate car with a D.J. booth, working headlights and horn. The back opens up to 2ft tall by 3ft wide to reveal a large water slide, leading to the light-up pool (which you can put water in), plus there’s a fashion runway with a rotating end for twirling.
Why we love it: With 55 surprises to discover, and plenty of different areas to play with, the gold-award-winning Glamper will give L.O.L. Surprise fans hours of imaginative, interactive glam fun – and when they’re done, it all fits away neatly in the glamper until next time!
MFM tester Parminder – mum to Ria, six, says: ‘My daughter absolutely loves this playset. She really enjoyed unwrapping all the different surprises and finds so many different ways to play with all the accessories.’
BEST TODDLER TOY
Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Unicorn, £69.99
Pictured, best toddler toy: Fisher-Price Bounce and Spin Unicorn available in high street stores Argos and Smyth’s Toys
What it is: A musical, ride-on unicorn (measuring 53cm x 72cm x 72cm) with a light up rattle roller, ABC sounds, buttons with numbers on, and multicoloured lights. Babies can also spin 360 degrees or bounce on it. It has easy-grip handles and a comfortable saddle. Batteries required – three AA (not included).
Why we love it: Once made, this toy is really sturdy. We love that it has letter and number songs, to help children learn.
Sarah-Jayne, MFM tester and mum to Shelby, 14 months, says: ‘One of my twins is a bit delayed with her walking and this is helping her build her strength and coordination – especially when hopping on and off!
‘It’s very educational, I’m amazed with how many things there is for Shelby to learn while playing with the toy, and the batteries last quite a long time, too.’
BEST ROBOT TOY
Spin Master Toys Owleez, £50
Pictured, best robot toy: Spin Master Toys Owleez is suitable for ages three and above, available from Argos
What it is: This owl responds to touch and its eyes light up dependent on its mood. It has over 100 sounds and movements and comes with a nest and a food accessory. It charges via a USB cord.
Why we love it: One part cutesy pet that needs nurturing, one part drone… meet Owleez! It can tell you its mood by its eye colour. And if you pet and rub it, it will fly!
Our child reviewers loved this little toy. Dan, MFM reviewer and dad to Myla, five, says: ‘When she wasn’t playing with it, she made sure someone else was looking after it. She tucked it up in her bed and put clothes on it to ‘keep it warm’.
The eye colour changes, which signal different emotions, was really appealing to her – and she instantly tried to do what needed to be done: feed, stroke, swing.’
BEST TOY FOR PRETEND PLAY
LeapFrog Smart Sizzling BBQ Grill, £49.99
Pictured, best toy for pretend play: LeapFrog Smart Sizzling BBQ Grill is suitable for ages two to five and available from Argos and Smyths Toys
Age: 2-5 years
What it is: An interactive BBQ grill (19cm x 47cm x 41cm) that recognises the names and colours of all eight food pieces placed onto the skewer. Teaches counting, colours and learning about food with the three different modes – learn, play and music. Two AA batteries required.
Why we love it: This BBQ set comes with loads of accessories including a hot dog, corn on the cob, burger and pepper. We love the fact that the food is interactive with the BBQ, particularly the smart grill feature that recognises the different foods along with all the different cooking sounds.
MFM tester Zoe, mum to Henry, two, says: ‘My son absolutely loved this! He loved making us all plates of food. The skewer is a great feature, telling you what piece of food you’re cooking. And as a parent I like the fact it comes with a big storage area underneath the BBQ so all the food can be stored away safely when we’re not playing with it.’
BEST TOY VEHICLE
GeoSmart Flip Bot, £39.99
Pictured, best toy vehicle: GeoSmart Flip Bot retails for £39.99 from Amazon, Whirligig Toys and Bright Minds
What it is: A colourful STEM-inspired remote-controlled vehicle which kids can build themselves using the snap-in motors and magnetic pieces.
Why we love it: With its colourful parts and cool big wheels, this toy provides endless fun for youngsters who can experiment with constructing different versions of the vehicle then use the remote to drive it around, flip and spin it.
This is a fairly expensive toy, at the upper end of the price bracket, but we think it’s reasonable for what you get.
MFM tester Colette, mum to nine-year-old Theo, said: ‘The FlipBot is a well-made toy that is fun to play with. My son enjoyed building the vehicle and constructing the different versions. He played with it continuously for around 45 minutes on his first go and since then he has been playing with it regularly.
‘It doesn’t come with lots of accessories or offer opportunities for imaginary play, but for construction and stunt work fun, this is a real winner.’
BEST CODING TOY
Kano Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit, £79.99
Pictured, best coding toy: Kano Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit is available from Amazon and Apple, suitable for ages six and above
What it is: A build-it-yourself wireless wand that allows youngsters to learn to code and perform wizarding spells alongside an app, which features more than 70 step-by-step creative challenges.
Why we love it: This innovative product is sure to delight any Harry Potter fan and keep them amused for hours. Once it has been put together and coded, you can wave your wand and see instant effects on the screen of your tablet or laptop – make feathers fly, pumpkins grow or goblets multiply!
The huge multitude of challenges included on the app means that your children won’t get bored and we really love how interactive and engaging the whole thing is.
Lindsay, mum to Ava, eight, said: ‘This is a brilliant bit of kit for kids to learn all about coding while also having fun and playing games. It was easy to set up and Ava did this by reading the instructions all by herself – no help from me was needed!’
BEST TOY FOR ACTIVE PLAY
Oaxis My First Drone, £34.99
Pictured, best toy for active play: Oaxis My First Drone is available from Maplin and Amazon for £34.99
What it is: This easy-to-use drone is perfect for young kids, who will love throwing it into the air and seeing it hover. It can be used indoors without a remote or controller and the battery allows for seven minutes of flight time.
Why we love it: This fun drone is perfect for active kids, who can simply toss it into the air and chase it around the room as they watch it fly about. It features an altitude sensor to ensure it won’t fly too high (always staying below 3m), two sensors to detect and avoid obstacles, and air bounce technology.
It’s safe for little hands to play with too – as the propellers are enclosed.
MFM tester Maeve, mum to Rowan, five, says: ‘This toy definitely got my little boy jumping around and chasing after it. He thoroughly enjoyed playing with it and it’s been used nearly every day since we got it. The protective casing was also fantastic and the drone never got damaged after a lot of use.’
Just bear in mind that you do only get seven minutes of play (for 40 minutes of charge), which some children (and adults!) may get frustrated at.
Xootz Bubble Scooter, £39.99
Pictured, best scooter: Xootz Bubble Scooter is suitable for ages three and above, on sale at Amazon, Littlewoods and Very
What it is: A cool scooter that shoots a trail of bubbles out the back.
Why we love it: There aren’t many kids that don’t like scooters or bubbles – and this brilliant invention combines the two!
The great thing is the inclusion of bubbles hasn’t been at the expense of the quality of the scooter – there are plenty of great design features here, including adjustable handle bars, easy-grip handles and an anti-slip footplate.
It also comes in two different colour combinations (blue and green, or pink and blue). Just remember that, unlike many other push-along scooters, this does require batteries (and bubble mixture).
MFM tester Elizabeth, mum to Locke, three, says: ‘My son was really excited when we opened the box and he enjoyed putting it together with me. He loved scooting around in the garden with his bubble ‘boosters’ on and I was impressed by the amount of bubbles created.’
WowWee Lucky Fortune, £4.99
Pictured, best collectable: WowWee Lucky Fortune is perfect for children aged four and above, it’s available from Amazon, Tesco and Argos
What it is: A hard fortune cookie that doubles up as a keyring and contains a sweet charm bracelet. There are over 100 different bracelets to collect and four levels of rarity, as well as a coveted Ultra Lucky real gold-dipped four-leaf clover bracelet. The pack also contains a collector’s guide to track the bracelets you get.
Why we love it: The surprise factor was the biggest hit with these fortune cookies – our testers loved finding out which bracelet they had cracked open and what it’s level of rarity was.
The bracelets themselves are surprisingly good quality for their bargain price tag and there’s a social element to this toy as they’re also sold in larger packs to enjoy with friends and they’re great for swapping.
From the makers of Fingerlings, the WowWee Lucky Fortune bracelets are already a runaway social media success and they proved a massive hit with our testers.
MFM tester Victoria, mum to Neve, nine, says: ‘The little sayings on the paper inside the fortune cookie were lovely. Neve loves the idea she could find a golden four-leaf clover!’
BEST ART/CRAFT TOY
Fuzzikins Fuzzi Street, £9.99 each
Pictured, best art & craft toy: Fuzzikins Fuzzi Street is available from Hobbycaft, Amazon and JD Williams
What it is: A range of three cardboard pop-up shops, each of which come with a cute flocked character who can be coloured with the felt tip pens supplied and then wiped clean, so that they can be decorated again and again. There’s a pizzeria, ice cream shop and post office to choose from and each comes with accessories and stickers.
Why we love it: The potential for creative fun with the Fuzzikins Fuzzi Street is endless as little ones can colour, wash and re-use the sweet character that comes with each shop.
Our mini testers also loved customising the shops and there are two fun accessories with each one, which adds to the delight – a post office and letter stand for the post office, pizza oven and sign for the pizzeria and ice cream cart and mini ice creams for the ice cream shop.
Each shop is sold separately, and the price does stack up if you want to collect all three, but the role-play aspect kept our testers busy for hours and the reusability of the cute characters make them a good buy alone.
MFM tester Christy, mum of four-year-old Audrey, says: ‘My daughter loves the little figure, and was thrilled to discover she was allowed to colour it, as well as decorate the shop. I like the fact they have a toy to keep long after the cardboard part of the kit has been used up.’
BEST VIDEO GAME
Paw Patrol: On a Roll, £34.99
Pictured, best video game: Paw Patrol: On a Roll is available from Game, Amazon and Argos for ages three to six
Format: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
What it is: The first ever Paw Patrol game to be made, this is a brilliant extension of the TV show for gamers. Players step into the beautifully recreated Adventure Bay and embark on 16 adventures across eight different locations and there are a number of micro-games too. Collect pup treats and play as Ryder and all eight of the Paw Patrol characters.
Why we love it: Picking up our Video Game Gold award, Kids are enchanted by the experience of stepping further into the Paw Patrol world and going beyond their TV screens. Our testers enjoyed playing as each famous pup and the adventures were an achievable challenge for even the youngest of players, although older gamers may lose interest quicker.
It’s only a one-player game and some testers felt it would have been great to have a two player option. It’s a lovely family friendly game though, that held the attention of children for a long time and kept them smiling.
MFM tester, Jasmin, mum to Mckenzie, nine, says: ‘It’s exactly like the TV show and my son loved being part of the story – he was interested and excited the whole time he was playing.’
BEST ACTIVITY MAT
Taf Toys All Around Me Gym, £69.99
Pictured, best activity mat: Taf Toys All Around Me Gym is suitable for newborns and available from Amazon
Age: From birth
What it is: This padded baby mat (90cm in diameter) has music, lights and 14 developmental activities – like music, hanging toys and lights, a mobile that can also attach to your baby’s cot, a mirror, a teether, and a rotating pinwheel. Batteries – two AAA (not included).
Why we love it: We love how soft and padded it is. The double-sided ‘sensi-centre’ has a high-contrast side for babies under three months, and a colourful side for babies over three months to help them explore colour.
This mat, compared with others on our list, has a good longevity, as it can be used as a tummy-time mat, and for older babies, too – which we think justifies the higher price tag. Rebecca, MFM tester and mum to Elizah, age six months, says: ‘The mat is nice quality, super soft and comfy. And its large – my six-month-old had plenty of room.’
Aimee, MFM tester and mum to Penelope, age four months, says: ‘It was easy to assemble and I like that there are plenty of loops to hang the toys from so there is some variety to using it. It is also easy to disassemble for cleaning or to put away.’
Available from: Amazon
BEST BATH TOY
Skip Hop Zoo Stack and Pour Buckets, £12
Pictured, best bath toy: Skip Hop Zoo Stack and Pour Buckets is available from Amazon, Boots and Early Learning Centre
Age: 9 months+
What it is: A set of colourful buckets that can add all sorts of fun to the bath.
Why we love it: Sometimes the simple toys are the best, and that’s certainly the case with these fun bathtime buckets from Skip Hop Zoo.
Bright and engaging, they feature jolly smiley animal faces on their sides and cute little handles. They easily fit together and pull apart and are suitable for children of all ages from nine months.
Lauren, MFM tester and mum to 11-month-old Cienna, said: ‘These are great for the bath or beach. My little girl loved playing with them and exploring them with her hands and mouth. The fun zoo patterns are great to use for entertainment and teaching animal noises too.
‘If you’ve got older toddlers, these buckets may not keep them entertained for a huge amount of time. But for little ones they are a great purchase and a handy addition to your arsenal of toys.’
Usborne’s In the Jungle – Puzzle Book & Jigsaw, £9.99
Pictured, best jigsaw: Usborne’s In the Jungle – Puzzle Book & Jigsaw is suitable for children aged five and above
What it is: A colourful 100+ piece jigsaw which comes with a 24-page picture puzzle book.
Why we love it: This is a really engaging puzzle, which has plenty of learning opportunities. Name the different animals with your child and keep your eyes peeled for delightful illustrations showing things such as a sloth wearing slippers, crocodiles hiding in the water and toucans with identical beaks.
Edyta, MFM tester and mum to Ayaan, five, said: ‘This is a really entertaining toy and excellent value for money. My son loved playing with it.
‘It comes with a great little book too, which adds an extra element to the package and we think it’s ideal for children around the ages of five and six, as it’s challenging but not too tricky.’
BEST TODDLER RIDE-ON
Mini Micro 3-in-1 Deluxe Push Along Scooter, £119.95
Pictured, best toddler ride-on: Mini Micro 3in1 Deluxe Push Along Scooter is available from John Lewis, Mini Micro and Jojo Maman Bebe
Age: 1-5 years
What it is: This 3-in-1 scooter (91cm x 23cm x 58cm) can be used all the way from age one up to school age. It has a removable parent-steering handle and a removable seat, so toddlers can sit on it and be pushed along. When your child is ready to scoot, the seat can be removed and the handle-bar raised. It is really lightweight, too, meaning it’s really easy to ride and steer.
Why we love it: Adaptable and sturdy, we love how long-lasting it is – you’ll get a lot of play for your money.
Samantha, MFM tester and mum to 18-month-old Ethan, says: ‘The utter joy on my son’s face when he saw it and rode it for the first time was amazing! I’d recommend this to anyone I know.
‘Even though it’s one of the most expensive toys on the list, it truly can be used from the toddler years until the school years.’
BEST SCIENCE/STEM TOY OR KIT
AugmentifyIt Augmented Reality OCEAN Animal Cards, £12.99
Pictured, best science/stem toy or kit: AugmentifyIt Augmented Reality OCEAN Animal Cards is suitable for children aged three and above
What it is: The first augmented reality (AR) cards for kids, that make a game which can be played with the AR technology. The 24-card pack, featuring ocean animals and over 180 facts, works with a downloadable app. There are over 265 quiz questions to test a players’ knowledge, learned from the cards.
Why we love it: Anything that makes learning fun and memorable gets a thumbs up from us, but this set has the added bonus of being magical, with the 3D AR aspect, and environmentally aware by opening up conversations about the importance of recycling and the health of our planet.
Oana, mum to Andy, four, says: ‘These cards are very interactive. It’s a brilliant introduction to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) vocabulary. Adults love it too! Andy especially loved the real-life animations, and I am sure we will still play this game as he grows up.
‘These cards are unique on our list, for the relatively good price point and the use of modern AR technology.’
Available from: Amazon
BEST INTERACTIVE TOY
Tonies Toniebox, £69.95
Pictured, best interactive toy: Tonies Toniebox is designed for children age three to six and available from Tonies, Amazon and Prezzybox
Age: 3 to 6
What it is: A Wi-Fi speaker unlike any you’ve come across before – this clever gadget is soft to the touch and paired with a hand-painted collectible Tonie figure, which is pre-recorded with songs and popular stories like The Gruffalo. You can also add your own content – a story, song or message, for up to 90 minutes.
Why we love it: Children are big fans of its squishy design and we like its screenless, intuitive controls – squeezing ears for volume control, tapping the side to skip tracks or fast forward – it’s a joy to use and children pick it up effortlessly.
The library on offer is ever expanding – Disney has just been added to the ranks to add to the brand’s kudos, and listening to the tales is an immersive, relaxing wind-down from the day. Adding your own content is another special addition and a lovely way for children to stay connected to loved ones who maybe live further away.
It’s a touch expensive, but it’s a pioneer in interactivity and parents give it their value for money vote.
MFM tester Nikita, mum of Logan, three, says: ‘Wow mum’ – that was my son’s initial reaction when he saw this product. He was fascinated the box could speak and once set up, he listened to the stories for hours and it really settled him for bedtime.’
Cry Babies Kristal, £49.99
Pictured, best doll: Cry Babies Kristal is available in UK high street stores Argos, Smyth Toys and Very
What it is: A 34cm onesie-wearing doll with moveable arms and legs, who is sick and needs taking care of. She will cry real tears if you take away her dummy – and makes cute gurgling noises when you soothe her. If she gets a cough, give her medicine. If she gets a fever, dab her forehead with a wet cloth. When spots appear on her face, give her an injection. It includes six accessories: a dummy, a stethoscope, an injection, a cloth, cough syrup and a thermometer. Batteries included.
Why we love it: OK, so hands up: we first thought these dolls, with their over-sized heads and enormous eyes, were a bit yuk. But then we saw our child testers collectively lose their hearts to these onesie-clad wailing wonders, and we changed our minds completely.
Emma, MFM reviewer and mum to Erin, age four, says: ‘My daughter is a doll girl. It is the first thing she’d choose if she had money to spend. And, with a toy that is as interactive as Cry Babies Kristal, I definitely wouldn’t begrudge paying around £50. A doll like this would be a main Christmas present type gift. I find my that my daughter really likes to “play mummy” with her dolls, and this adds a little extra to it. Your baby cries, as babies do, and you need to work out why she is sad. Does she need medicine, an injection? Maybe take her temperature and listen to her heartbeat? It adds a caring aspect which is very cute to watch and encourage.’
Emma, mum to Archie, age five, says: ‘Who says dolls aren’t for boys?! My three-year-old son loved this doll. What I loved most was it also captured the attention of his five-year-old brother – they loved quickly finding the equipment they needed to help Kristal stop crying. My three-year-old picked her up and sang hush little baby, and also said, “Look she has tears!” Easy compartment at the back of the head to fill with water in order for the baby to cry. Overall a great doll that I would recommend, it brings out the caring and nurturing side of children.’
BEST WOODEN TOY
Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Wooden Playset, £14.99
Pictured, best wooden toy: Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Wooden Playset is suited to children aged between three and five
Age: 3-5 years
What it is: A 17-piece set of wooden play food with a knife. The whole set comes with a wooden crate (30.1cm x 28.3cm x 5.3 cm) to store the pieces in. Each ‘slice’ of food has velcro on it, so the pieces can stick together and can be easily cut.
Why we love it: We love how beautifully made this set it. The detail on the wooden food looks pretty realistic, too.
Lindsay, MFM reviewer and mum to Evelyn, age four, says: ‘My daughter loved it. It’s a learning toy which will teach them the safety of knives and how to chop up food. The tray it comes with is as good quality as the food, too.’
Another MFM reviewer, Natasha, mum to Ethan, age four, says, ‘My son said, “I like chop chopping it. The melon is my favourite, because it’s my shop and I sell all the food. And I make sandwiches for daddy”.’
BEST TOY FOR ROLE PLAY
Mi Mic X Factor Karaoke Disco Cube Speaker, £59.99
Pictured, best toy for role play: Mi Mic X Factor Karaoke Disco Cube Speaker is perfect for children aged five and over
What it is: A rechargeable, portable Bluetooth speaker cube with integrated disco lights and echo function. It comes with two karaoke microphones and connects to a variety of karaoke apps. It provides approximately five hours of play time and has a 10 metre range.
Why we love it: This new product from the X Factor range takes the interactive karaoke fun to the next level as the cube contains its own disco lights and two microphones. The tech is clever, as it allows you to connect to various karaoke apps via Bluetooth, so you’re bound to find songs to sing along that please your kids – and you.
It is a worthy winner of this year’s MFM Toy Awards Best Toy for Role Play category as it really gets kids involved.
Eva, MFM tester and mum of Dara, six, says: ‘My daughter loved the microphone, as it’s very portable and great fun’.
BEST BALANCE BIKE
Micro 2in1 Balance Bike, £109.95
Pictured, best balance bike: Micro 2in1 Balance Bike is available exclusively from Micro and suitable for children aged between two to five
Age: 2-5 years
What it is: An ultra-lightweight balance bike with front suspension, the option of an extra stability wheel, a front mud guard and an adjustable seat and handlebar. The max weight it can carry is 20kg.
Why we love it: Lightweight balance bikes are so much easier for kids to get the hang of than heavier ones, and this one is the second lightest of our list! Our testers absolutely loved it, too.
Angela, MFM tester and mum to Lucas, two, and Amber, four, says: ‘My son was in love as soon as he saw it. He was straight on it – using his feet to move him along, quite fast actually, but he always managed to keep his balance. He has been on it every single day and it will make our walks up to school for his sister a lot more fun.’
Lindsay, MFM tester and mum to Aaliyah, age three, appreciates how adaptable the bike is too. She says: ‘It has training wheels which can be changed to a big wheel when my daughter is ready. I love that you’re able to buy an add-on trailer, too, which would be brilliant for carrying her water bottle and snack. The bike is extremely lightweight and everything is easy to adjust. My little girl said, “Wow, it’s the best bike ever, I can go fast”.’
Available from: Micro
BEST BABY TOY (0-6 MONTHS)
Skip Hop Farmstand Avocado Stroller Toy, £12
Pictured, best baby toy: Skip Hop Farmstand Avocado Stroller Toy is available from John Lewis, Jojo Maman Bebe and Amazon
Age: from birth
What it is: A charming, plush avocado toy of two halves with a rattle ‘pit’ in the centre and a built-in loop and ring to attach it to various baby transport. Roughly 22cm in length.
Why we love it: This is a creative, tactile and soft toy for a newborn, with lovely details and understated charm. It has enough bits for your baby to try their grip on and a rattle inside to discover and explore. We love its portability and cute design.
Gemma, MFM tester and mum to Walter, four months, says her son’s face lights up when you give him the avocado. ‘The variety of textures and the rattle makes this toy a real hit,’ she adds. ‘He’s currently exploring different toys, and this was perfect for him to feel, shake around and have a little chew on. It’s beautifully made and is such an adorable design. He just loves it!’
BEST BABY TOY (6-12 MONTHS)
Edushape Textured Pop Blocks, £12.99
Pictured, best baby toy: Edushape Textured Pop Blocks is available exclusively at Halilit
Age: from birth
What it is: 10 colourful, tactile soft cubes that have appealing 3D textures. They have protruding shapes that can interlock, so they’re ideal for sorting and stacking.
Why we love it: These are bright, versatile blocks that will fascinate your little one through various stages of development. They are soft and squidgy, have a fantastic array of textures to explore, and their colours are appealingly bright. The interlocking shapes are great to encourage stacking and sorting.
Nicola, MFM tester and mum of Keira, eight months, says the blocks were excellent for her daughter to play with. She says: ‘They are great for talking about numbers, colours, shapes and animals, and are easy for small hands to grasp.’
Available from: Halilit
BEST TEETHING TOY
Lion Teether, Matchstick Monkey, £9.99
Pictured, best teething toy: Lion Teether, Matchstick Monkey is suitable for children aged between three months and three years
Age: 3m – 3 years
What it is: An irresistibly cute lion teether with sore-gum-soothing bumps – made from antimicrobial silicone that kills germs within two hours. Dishwasher and fridge safe, and suitable for steam and cold-water sterilising.
Why we love it: At 11cm, this teether is handily sized with ergonomically designed arms that are easy for little hands to grip. Not only can baby chew down on lion’s bumpy mane, but the bumps are also just the job for applying teething gel to the back of their mouth when the dreaded molars are breaking through.
You can also use Lion to help baby get used to brushing their new pearly whites.
But a major plus of this Gold award-winning teether is that it’s made from antimicrobial silicone, with 99.5 per cent of nasties zapped in two hours – which will be a weight off your mind when it gets tossed onto the floor or pavement.
Jumpking 14ft ZorbPOD, £669
Pictured, best trampoline: Jumpking 14ft ZorbPOD is suitable for children aged six and over, available from Trampolines.co.uk, Jumpking and Argos
Age: 6+ years
What it is: A 14ft globe-shaped design that sits high off the ground. Its superior interlocking frame means that there is no movement on the legs during jumps. Maximum user weight of 120kg.
Why we love it: This is a fantastic, modern take on the garden trampoline. With its stunning globe design it really stands out and gives your young jumper the feeling of flying in a snow globe.
It is also very sturdy and secure once erected (although the instructions and build are a bit cumbersome).
At £699, you do pay full whack for this quality, but many of our MFM testers believe this is worth it – and it is by no means the most expensive out there.
Cathryn, MFM tester and mum of Amelia, seven, as well as two little ones, loves the look of the trampoline – ‘it’s a fantastic looking piece of equipment’ – but also praises its safety credentials and sturdiness. ‘It’s comfortable, robust, the quality is amazing… it’s the Ritz of the trampoline world.’
BEST ACTIVITY CENTRE/JUMPER
Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Centre, £135
Pictured, best activity centre: Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Baby’s View 3-Stage Activity Centre is available from Kidly, Amazon and JoJoMamanBebe
Age: 4 months +
What it is: A multi-stage activity centre with a seat that rotates 360 degrees. There are 25 developmental activities, including five toys that clip onto the tray. When your baby grows too big for the activity centre, it transforms into a drawing table with a plastic chalkboard surface (you can buy matching chairs, sold separately).
Why we love it: It has a much longer lifespan than your average bouncer, so it really works hard for its slightly higher price tag, making it our Gold award winner. And it has fun features – the light-up foot piano was a particular favourite with our testers and once it has changed into a drawing table, the chalkboard was a big hit with our toddler reviewers.
It comes with an additional suction snack bowl, a cute extra. It’s super-easy to assemble, in lovely colours, and there’s masses of stuff to keep your little one entertained.
Daniella, MFM tester and mum of seven-month-old Archie, says: ‘This jumper does so many things in one, so you do not have to have loads of toys lying around, which is a must for me as I have a small sitting room. It sits nicely in the corner and provides hours of fun – I can tell by my little boy’s cooing noises he loves it!’
BEST EDUCATIONAL/LEARNING TOY
Tech Will Save Us Electro Guitar Kit, £29.99
Pictured, best educational toy: Tech Will Save Us Electro Guitar Kit is suitable for children aged eight and above
What it is: A DIY kit to make your own cardboard guitar and amplifier to develop musicianship and knowledge of string instruments.
Why we love it: This is such a lovely combination of hands-on craft kit with online video and tools to develop a love of music and instruments. Furnished with easy instructions, your child can build their own cardboard guitar and amplifier. They learn how to make it ‘electric’ and can produce their own effects and tracks with the online/app component of the kit (due to launch later this year).
It is a super fun project that should hopefully delight budding rock guitarists. We also love the cheerful and cool look of the product.
Rebecca, MFM tester and mum of Teegan, nine, says: ‘My daughter loves it; she’s still playing with it an hour after set up. It’s a brilliant little device.’
BEST STOCKING FILLER
Snowball by Schylling, from £2.99
Pictured, best stocking filler: Snowball by Schylling is available from Tobar and Amazon, suited to children aged three and above
What it is: A 2.5-inch snowball effect stress ball. Designed for stress relief, the squishy ball will always return to its globe shape after being squeezed, flexed and poked.
Why we love it: Ok, so this one isn’t strictly for the kids and would work equally as well in a grown up’s stocking. But our child judges LOVED it!
Mandy, mum of Olly, two, says: ‘This is a great make-believe toy. It sounds just like feet squelching in the snow as you squeeze the ball, and my son used it as if it was an actual snowball!’
BEST SUBSCRIPTION BOX
Mysteries in Time, £6.95 per month for a six-month subscription (or £7.95 on a month-to-month basis)
Pictured, best subscription box: Mysteries in Time is suitable for children aged between seven and eleven
What it is: This fun and educational subscription box allows your child to travel back in history and solve a mystery. There’s an illustrated adventure story, and colourful history booklet packed full of fun facts, as well as a craft activity and engaging puzzles.
Why we love it: This innovative idea sees children receive a time machine each month – the first takes you back to Ancient Egypt, while other stops in history showcase Ancient Greece, the Victorians and WW2.
Our judges commented on the fact it’s great value and said the product was excellent quality.
Clare, MFM tester and mum to Jack, eight, says: ‘There is so much in the box to play with. We made the clay amulets, read a bit of the book and spelt our names in hieroglyphs, which my son really enjoyed. This is a really reasonably priced option compared to others on offer and we love how it inspires their imagination.’
Available from: Mysteries in Time
BEST OUTDOOR TOY
Kettler Suzuka Air, £179.95
Pictured, best outdoor toy: Kettler Suzuka Air is perfect for children aged four to eight, available from Jacksons Leisure and Kettler
Age: 4-8 years
What it is: A classic pedal powered go kart with modern day updates, such as air tyres, bucket seats and handbrake controls.
Why we love it: We imagine a go kart is on every child’s wish list at some point, and if they are lucky enough, then this award winner is a great choice for parents. The seat can be adjusted so it will grow with your child.
Michelle, mum to Mason, six, says: ‘It is very sturdy and was so easy to assemble. The features are great too, the adjusting seat is very practical and means as my son grows, he will be able to play with it too. The tyres grip on any ground, and the fact that this toy has scratch resistant polyester coating means that, if it’s looked after well, it could last many years.’
BEST CONSTRUCTION/BUILDING TOY
SmartMax My First Totem Magnetic Set, £17.99
Pictured, best construction toy: SmartMax My First Totem Magnetic Set is available from Bright Minds and RideonToys4u
Age: 18 months – 5 years
What it is: A fun stacking totem pole that uses eight large magnetic pieces to make the process easy for little hands. Comes with cards showing 24 different design challenges for your child to copy.
Why we love it: This colourful bundle of magnetic pieces is great fun and perfect for toddlers who can get frustrated at not being able to easily use traditional stacking toys. We also love the fact the pieces showcase different sounds, styles and textures to make them more interesting.
Kelly, mum to 20-month-old Sophie, says: ‘It kept my daughter engaged instantly, and she loved stacking the bricks in different ways. You could see her thinking about other ways to stack the bricks when the way she had tried didn’t work.
‘And of course it was fun knocking the towers down again! We also used it for a bit of colour recognition practice, which was a nice bonus, and as she gets older we can develop this to shape recognition too.’
BEST BOARD GAME
Ravensburger Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Game, £19.99
Pictured, best board game: Ravensburger Peppa Pig Muddy Puddle Game is suitable for children aged four and above
What it is: A fun Peppa Pig game which sees kids help George jump over muddy puddles to reach the top of the hill, or fall down into a deep puddle if you take a wrong step! Includes a green hill with Peppa, 12 playing pieces and 24 action cards. For two to four players.
Why we love it: Anything Peppa themed is a big hit in most households, and this game is no different. We love the muddy fun element at the centre of this game and little ones will find falling in the deep puddles very amusing.
MFM tester Mackenzie, mum to Reuben, four, says: ‘This game is very well designed and perfect for children who love Peppa Pig. It’s educational but also very fun. The whole family joined in to play and we all thoroughly enjoyed it! It offers around 15-20 minutes playing time, which is perfect for this age group.’
BEST BOARD GAME 6+
Asmodee Cobra Paw, £14.99
Pictured, best board game 6+: Asmodee Cobra Paw is available from John Lewis, Waterstones and Amazon
What it is: A fun and quick-paced game that sees youngsters roll a dice and then spot and grab matching tiles before their opponents. For two to six players.
Why we love it: This is an easy to master game and provides endless fun. We love that it helps encourage youngsters to learn to take turns, but that they can also constantly join in. It encourages a nice healthy bit of competitive spirit – and adults will soon be as addicted as their kids!
MFM tester Sarah, mum to Noah, six, says: ‘This is a fantastic game and excellent value for money. Noah loved the shape of the box and the design and got the rules really quickly. It’s also a really good portable size that we can take anywhere.’
BEST SUSTAINABLE/ECO TOY
Petit Collage Alphabet Wooden Tray Puzzle, £19.95
Pictured, best sustainable toy: Petit Collage Alphabet Wooden Tray Puzzle is available from Hurn & Hurn and best suited to children aged three and over
What it is: A multi-language alphabet wooden tray (30cm x 20cm) with 26 letter puzzle pieces. It is made from sustainable wood and printed with vegetable inks.
Why we love it: This colourful puzzle will help children’s fine motor control and hand-eye coordination, while helping them learn about the letters of the alphabet in English, French, German and Italian.
Laura, MFM reviewer and mum to Elodie, age four, says: ‘This is a lovely, well-made wooden puzzle with multiple educational benefits. My four-year-old enjoyed the puzzle aspect of the game, but wasn’t quite into the language, however she played this with her seven-year-old sister who has learnt various foreign words from the cards.’
Available from: Hurn & Hurn
BEST BABY SLEEP-AID TOY
Fisher Price Soothe ‘n Snuggle Otter, £39.99
Pictured, best baby sleep-aid toy: Fisher Price Soothe ‘n Snuggle Otter is available from Smyths Toys and Amazon
What it is: A super soft otter that moves up and down in a rhythmic motion to mimic breathing and help soothe your baby. Set to play 30 minutes of calming music, volume controlled sound effects as well as soft lights. Four AA batteries included.
Why we love it: The gentle breathing on this adorable otter makes the sleep aid stand out from others. The reassuring vibration and soft music will help your baby to stay calm as they drift off to sleep.
MFM tester Hayley, mum to Liam, says: ‘I’ve had trouble with getting my four-month old settled at night and this sends him right off. He loves the softness of it and likes to stroke it when falling asleep. The soothing music and also the breathing function is perfect to make my baby feel as though he has me next to him.’
Zazu Ocean Projector, Cody the Crab, £44.54
Mums and dads loved our gold award winning projector Cody the Crab as much as their babies
Age: From birth
What it is: A sweet smiley plush crab that soothes your child to sleep using projections of underwater scenes with music, swimming fish and moving waves and a three-step sleep programme: 1. Projections and music draw baby’s attention; 2. Lights and music are lowered, waves start to calm and the fish start to sleep; 3. After 30 minutes the music switches off, the waves are calm and the fish are asleep – and hopefully, your baby is, too! Choice of ocean, heartbeat sound or white noise melodies. Cry sensor restarts the sleep programme if baby cries. Uses three AA batteries. Washable.
Why we love it: Mums and dads loved our gold award-winning projector Cody the Crab as much as their babies, with testers praising the soothing sounds and beautiful projections – it’s so hypnotic, you might have a job not falling asleep, too!
MFM tester Catherine, mum of Phoenix, eight months, says: ‘My son was captivated by the projections and the soothing sounds. He was really in awe watching the little fish and the ocean currents projected in his room. As days have gone past he has taken well to it and seems much more sleepy with Cody the Crab. The different phases it goes through have helped to gently lull him to sleep.’
Available from: Coming soon
BEST GARDEN TOY
Plum Metal Climbing Dome Frame with Fabric Den and 10ft Wave Slide, £349.99
Pictured, best garden toy: Plum Metal Climbing Dome Frame with Fabric Den and 10ft Wave Slide can be used by children aged three and above
What it is: A 10ft slide and metal climbing dome (410cm x 227cm x 258cm) with a fabric den, climbing rug, scramble net and ladder to reach the top deck. Takes approximately two adults and five hours to assemble.
Why we love it: There’s so many different elements to this garden toy, whether it’s the climbing frame, slide or secret den. And for some extra fun you can attach a hosepipe to the slide to turn it into a water slide!
MFM tester Michelle, mum to Frankie, five, says: ‘It wasn’t too bulky and didn’t feel like it over-powered the garden! There was a good amount of different areas of play plus a closed in section in the center of the dome which has the potential to become a den, an area for quiet outdoor reading time or play area!’
Available from: Plum Play
BEST PORTABLE/TRAVEL TOY
Oaxis myFirst Camera 2, £59.99
Pictured, best portable toy: Oaxis myFirst Camera 2 is an ideal first camera for chidlren aged four and above
What it is: An ideal first camera that takes high resolution 8MP images and video. Comes with a waterproof case so can be used by the sea or pool and holds up to 36GB on MicroSD card included. Fully charged within three to four hours.
Why we love it: This camera is perfect for little budding photographers with its easy to use functions and the fact it takes high resolution images and video. It’s waterproof, dustproof and shockproof so you can be sure of its durability. Kids can also get creative with all the different photo template options.
MFM tester Clare, mum to Adelaide, five, says: ‘My daughter loved the camera. We took it to an animal park and a waterfall – the waterproof case seemed to hold up well and the 8MP camera meant that the 36GB memory card holds plenty of pictures.’
BEST SOFT TOY
Posh Paws Disney Pixar Toy Story 4 Plush, £14.99
Pictured, best soft toy: Posh Paws Disney Pixar Toy Story 4 Plush is available from Amazon for newborns and older
Age: from birth
What it is: All your favourite Toy Story characters in a soft plush toy (nine to collect in total) including Woody, Buzz and Forky.
Why we love it: These lovely soft toys are perfect for little Toy Story fans. They feel high quality and you’ve got the chance to pick up one of each character.
MFM tester Jenny, mum to Axel, three, says: ‘The fact that we had a set of them meant that my son was quiet involved in role play with them. He had Bow Peep making dinner with the play kitchen for woody and buzz. They are an excellent size for travel and a few of them also came to the museum with us.’
Available from: Amazon
MadeForMums editor Susie Boone said
‘The results of this year’s Toy Awards show that toys with simple play appeal remain real hits with children and their parents.
‘It’s great to see that family games are still hugely popular in 2019 and can compete on Santa lists this Christmas alongside innovative technology toys and clever twists on recent favourites.’
See the full list of winners, Editors’ Choices and runners up at https://www.madeformums.com/reviews/madeformums-toy-awards-2019-winners