Practical Parenting Awards 2012-2013

I was fortunate enough to go to both of the Practical Parenting & Pregnancy judging days in London. Although many of the products for testing and judging were aimed at babies and toddlers, there were plenty that were relevant for four-year-old Munchkin and me. We were encouraged to check all the items thoroughly, which was great fun and reassuring.

First up, toys for 0-6 months, 6-18 months then 18 months to 4 years, baby items, change bags, keepsakes, baby carriers and lots more! Here are Munchkin’s top picks. First, he went straight for old favourites the dragon Happy Hopperz and the Union Jack Mini Micro scooter, so it was lucky that the hall the judging took place in was pretty big! Next up was the Early Learning Centre cash register, complete with play food, play money. A scanner and even a play card and PIN machine. This was great for imaginative play and could also be used for getting children used to handling money, as well as basic addition and subtraction maths skills. After this came the Cupcake Kitchen, which was a lovely wooden kitchen painted pale pink and with enough accessories for some real play cooking. Having satisfied his culinary urges, next came something else creative: an Early Learning Centre nuts and bolts building kit. This is suitable from 3 years and would make a great first construction kit for a little one. The final toy he selected was the teddy bears’ picnic from Orchard Toys. This game was for 3-6 years, was fun and easy to play and came with sturdy and colourful pieces.

Now for my picks. I couldn’t resist the change bags. It was difficult to choose a favourite but in the end I went for the Mia Tui Minnie Amelie bag, because it was such great value, looked like a regular tote and was also very practical. The original change bag from Lin & Leo and the Brigitte tote were gorgeous but sadly out of my price range.

Next were travel products. The Bubblebum car booster seat was good to use and squashes down small so you can take it on holiday; it’ll save you lots of money on hiring a car seat when abroad. The Lights Out backout blinds were very practical, perfect for hotel rooms (it always surprises me how few have decent curtains) and again pack down small and easily (assuming you’re better with pop-up things than I am!). My final choice for Monday was the Tidy Books bookcase. This was very sweet and practical, and would look good in any child’s bedroom.

Wednesday was all about buggies, pushchairs, highchairs and car seats. There were lots of absolutely gorgeous buggies and pushchairs, and I loved the Nuna Zaaz, Stokke Tripp Trapp, Oxo Tot Sprout and Heinrich Geuter Swing highchairs for their looks and practicality.

This time, though, my focus was group 2/3 car seats, something we desperately need. My favourites were the Britax Kidfix SICT and the Kiddy Cruiserfix Pro, while Munchkin’s choice was the Concord X-Bag. These were all great, looked good, were comfortable and practical. Now to do some more research and decide which one to buy!

It was great to have the opportunity to have a good go at lots of interesting and useful products. We have everything such a thorough testing that we almost fell asleep on the way home!

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