After vetting more than 1,000 items spanning toys, games, books, home, tech and back-to-school gear, we're back with the second annual Happy Kid Awards. Consider this your go-to source for finding the ideal gift for every birthday, baby shower and "trust me, you need this" moment life has to offer.
Your Guide to the Coolest Products for Kids of All Ages
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How the Winners Were Chosen
A Happy Kid Award winner needs to be so game-changing that you can't wait to tell other parents about it. So that's where we started: Reaching out to families worldwide and researching the newest and bestselling products on the market. From there, we culled our list to the top finds, then PureWow editors (and 54 families across the U.S.!) helped test and review our contenders, providing honest feedback to help us uncover the best of the best.
Mockingbird Single to Double Stroller
New to the market, this fan favorite is an affordable grow-with-your-family option that allows two kids from newborn to four years old to sit comfortably together (with plans for a kickstand to accommodate child number three coming soon). It also scores points for its extra-large storage basket that can hold a diaper bag and a week’s worth of groceries, sun canopy and one-handed fold.
Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational All-in-One Car Seat
Best Car Seat
Swivel car seats that allow you to easily get your kid in and out are amazing, but they’re not exactly new. What makes this model a PureWow top pick is the fact that it grows with your child until age 10 (yep, it goes all the way from a rear-facing infant to booster seat for children up to 120 pounds). Easy installation, removable inserts and two cup holders are just the icing on the cake.
Miku Pro Smart Baby Monitor
Best Baby Monitor
This smart monitor features crystal clear video and tracks baby’s breathing, sound and movement without a wearable device, while keeping tabs on room temperature and humidity levels. We love that it plays lullabies or white noise, and that it works even if you’re using another app on your phone (meaning you can scroll Instagram and listen in at the same time).
SKIP HOP RECLINE & RINSE BATHER
Best Baby Bathtub
Few things are as adorable—or stressful—as giving a newborn her first bath. This user-friendly tub makes the process seamless thanks to its convenient setup (it can be used on the counter, in the sink or in the bathtub) and contoured shape to gently cradle baby. Then, when you’re done, simply hang it to dry. It also folds flat for easy storage—a rarity in the world of bulky infant tubs.
Best Sleep Aid
Babies love shushing sounds, which remind them of being in the womb, but having to shush your baby to sleep for 20 minutes straight will drive any parent bananas. Enter the baby shusher, a portable, easy-to-use device that allows you to record your voice and lull the baby to sleep. The Shusher can be set to 15- to 30-minute timers and comes with two AA batteries.
Haakaa Manual Breastpump
There’s no use crying over spilt milk...unless it’s breast milk (in which case, bring on the waterworks). But with this ingenious device, not a drop goes to waste. Here’s how it works: Squeeze, attach to your breast and watch as the Haakaa collects expressed milk using the power of suction. It’s lightweight, portable and can be cleaned in minutes. Bonus: It also clears clogged ducts.
Babylist Bottle Box
Best Mealtime Helper
Most parents associate the picky eater phase with toddlerhood, but even babies are known to turn up their noses depending on the vessel their food is served in. That’s why it’s smart to test drive a few bottles before settling on one. This kit contains five popular baby bottles from different brands, all BPA-free and dishwasher safe.
Dyson Pure + Humidify Cool
Best for Sick Days
Rather than shell out money on an air purifier and a humidifier (and dealing with the mold that comes with using the latter), the pros at Dyson have an all-in-one solution. Oh, and it's part cooling fan and—best of all—self-cleaning. Just add water and citric acid, then tap a button and one hour later, you’re good to go. (Read our full review here.)
The Best Baby Toys
Kissy the Penguin
Best for singing and dancing
This adorable pint-sized plushie blows kisses to your baby and teaches her how to blow them back—all to the tune of a sweet (but not so sweet that it will drive parents nuts) jingle. Kissy had our baby testers in fits of giggles and gave them plenty of hugging practice too. For ages 0 to 2.
Educating Amy Books
Best for sensory play
These Montessori books are 100 percent sewn (no glue!) and a treasure trove of sensory exploration. Babies love the fun colors and textures; parents love teaching skills like self-awareness and object permanence. Each book sold provides a month's education for a girl in rural India. For ages 0 to 6.
Laugh & Learn On-The-Go Camper
Best for movers and shakers
This push-along walker and activity center will keep infants entertained well into toddlerhood. Think: catchy tunes, light-up details and even a fishing rod to catch “fish” shapes. Add in the educational features (it teaches colors, numbers, letters and shapes), plus a 10-minute set-up and built-in storage, and it’s no surprise that this one’s a hit with kids and parents alike. For 9 to 36 months.
Roly Poly Bear
Best for quiet play
While babies love flashing lights and playful tunes, they also need quiet toys that help them wind themselves down (not to mention, give mom a much-needed moment of peace). This simple-yet-sweet rocking and stacking bear helps tots work on hand-eye coordination and cause-and-effect. It’s also a great toy for tummy time, and the soft rings can even double as teethers. From 6 months to 12 months.
The Best Toddler Toys
Chalk ‘n Walk
Best for Outdoor Artists
Minimal assembly required—the chalk (six jumbo-size pieces) comes included in this push-cart style toy, perfect for burgeoning artists who want to color as they go. The end result? Let’s just say your driveway has never looked lovelier.
Best Battery-Free Fun
Load the “butterflies” (aka tiny discs) into the elephant’s trunk, then stomp on the tail to send them flying into the air. Kids will delight in taking turns catching them with their nets—and, truth be told, launching the discs is just as fun.
TonieBox & Tonies
Best Alternative to Screens
For any parent who’s had to play DJ for their tot, this audio player is a sanity-saver. Kids collect figurines that correspond with different stories and songs—including Disney hits, like Frozen and Cars—then place one atop the speaker to have it start playing. You can even record your own jams too.
Best for Wild Imaginations
At first glance, this toy looks like just another set of stacking cups. But not so fast. These unique and colorful cylinders stretch into a tall tower that helps encourage fine motor skills, experimentation and more. Our testers turned it into a telescope! A bugle! What else? That’s up to your kids to decide.
True story: Potatoes have no gender, which is why the beloved Mr. Potato Head has gone through a bit of a re-brand to break away from heteronormative stereotypes. (Fancy eyelashes and purses? As if!) The new kit comes with two adult spuds, a baby spud and 42 accessories, ready for your little one to create the family as they see fit.
WHALE MUSIC FOUNTAIN
Best Bathtime Toy
Every kid knows that bath time is really just play time, and these musical whales are all about it. They spout water! They play songs! They transform into a piano! Silly entertainment that will have your babe in giggles (and just maybe distract them long enough for you to wash the shampoo out of their hair).
The Best Toys for Kids 4 to 7
Quadrilla Super Spirals
Coolest Block-Building Set
A marble run that comes with control blocks and spiral twists (not to mention musical sound effects), this toy was a big hit with our testers—especially the 6- and 7-year-olds. Not only do the marbles go in different directions, there are a ton of ways to configure the layout. (Parents, you know what that means…hours of occupied time, wahoo!)
Paper Flower Science Kit
Best for Future Scientists
The best way to fully grasp the magic of this STEAM-focused experiment is to watch this video. How it works: Your kids get to measure the liquids, choose their own color palette and mark up their flowers, all before science gets to work. The finished product? A paper bouquet that never wilts. (Our testers loved it so much it’s a two-time award winner.)
Best for Budding Artists
You’ve heard of Magna-Tiles (and likely have multiple sets), but this brand-new set allows your kids to bring their own designs to life in 3D form by doodling right on the tiles themselves. Then, when they’re ready to create their next masterpiece, simply wipe the old designs away with a damp cloth and begin again.
Best Indoor Energy Burner
The game works like this: Anchor the horseshoe platform to a doorway or beam and toss up to eight horseshoes to see where they land. The game is designed for two players, but you can divvy up however you’d like. Per our testers, it was fun and competitive and the rings weren’t so heavy as to hurt anyone (or anything) in your home.
Guardian 14-Inch Bike
Best Beginner Pedal Bike
Not only is this bike lightweight and easy to maneuver, it comes equipped with Guardian’s SureStop Brake System (one lever so kids won’t get confused when they need to urgently stop) and a wide wheel base for better balance and control.
Got2Glow Fairy Finder Jar
Most Whimsical Toy
This fairy jar is reminiscent of Pokémon Go, with 100+ virtual fairies to be collected. Watch as your kids get caught up trying to catch them all. In the bedroom, kitchen, out in the garden—you never know where they'll fly onto your screen.
The Best Toys for Kids 8 and Up
Best Remote-Control Toy
Kites are cool and all—until this remote-control cardinal swoops past you. Its flapping wings mimic a real bird, and it uses infrared sensors to detect obstacles, so it’s less likely to crash into walls (even if the pilot is still getting the hang of the controls).
Create Your Own Magical Unicorn Friend
Fantasy toys have been huge this year, and this kit lets kids play toymaker. Our tester loved stuffing the pre-sewn unicorn, choosing its hair, and using the included craft supplies to dress it up.
Shang-Chi Battle at the Ancient Village Building Kit
Best Twist on a Classic
Out of all of the LEGO sets we tested, none got as high reviews as this one. That’s partially due to the Marvel tie-in (after all, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is one of the hottest movies hitting theaters this year). But even kids who weren’t familiar with the movie loved how easy it was to build the dragon—and battling it against the four mini-figures the set comes with.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Best for Gamers
Augmented reality, taken to the next level: This game comes with cardboard gates and a Mario (or Luigi) racer, so you can set up racecourses throughout the house, then zip through them using your Nintendo Switch like a controller. When you watch the Switch’s screen, you’ll see Mario's POV as the toy darts through your home—only with an added layer of digital features, like green shells, which cause your car to slow down if you hit ‘em.
Coolest Way to Get Around
Just like actual surfing, there’s a learning curve to carving down the streets on this two-wheeled board. It’s basically a RipStik designed to look like a pint-size surfboard (giving it extra cool points), and once your kids get the hang of it, it’ll be their new favorite way to get to and from school.
Magical Minis Hogwarts Castle
Best for Harry Potter Fans
If you can’t take your kids to Hogwarts, bring the castle to them. As you move the included Hermione doll through the famed school, you’ll touch on magical moments that play sound effects, cause the Great Hall’s ceiling to change colors and spark a surprising cameo from Moaning Myrtle herself.
The Best Games
Game Night in a Can
Best for the Whole Family
This is the low-stakes game to bust out at every gathering (which—bonus!—is the size of a mug, making it easy to travel with). Flick the spinner and pull a card with the corresponding color. Everyone has just a few minutes to tackle its challenge, be it inventing a new animal, racing paper airplanes or seeing which duo can bump butts the most times.
Best Game for Future Prodigies
You’ve heard how great chess is for developing minds (and OK, you got hooked after watching Queen’s Gambit). But how do you get screen-addled kids into it?! Enter Storytime Chess. A former Disney illustrator helped design the pieces and book, which turn the game into an adventure that kiddos as young as 3 can get on board with.
Best Game for Building Coordination
Imagine Simon Says taken to the next level. Designed for one to four players, these controllers flash different symbols that tell you to shake them or move them in a certain direction. It tests your speed and accuracy—and you’ll be stunned by how quickly you forget up from down.
Rush to Recycle
Best Educational Game
Kid oddly fascinated by garbage day? Indulge their interests with this 15-minute-ish board game, where you race to sort metal, glass, paper, plastic and compost before the recycling truck arrives. (It’s also made using 50 percent recycled cardboard and printed with vegetable ink.)
Best Cooperative Game
Want a game that unites, rather than divides? Try this pick-your-path adventure. Up to four players work together as a team, choosing one of three quests to embark on and voting to determine their every move. Your goal: Complete the quest before the Tower of Peril topples (easier said than done). This game's a little more involved, making it best for ages 10 and up.
Avocado Smash Party
Best New Card Game
When War, Old Maid and Go Fish start feeling stale, turn to this fast-paced card game. Players take turns flipping over numbered cards, counting up to 15. If the card flipped matches the number said out loud, you race to “smash” your hand over it. The first one to smash wins an avocado toast topping; the toast with the most toppings at the end wins. It’s a little bougie—and a total blast.
Rafi Nova Sensory Friendly Mask
Most Innovative Mask
Available in three sizes, this is one mask kids won’t mind wearing. It features a soft, hypoallergenic silk liner—one of three layers, including an antimicrobial core—and jersey knit straps that won’t tug their ears. Plus, it's well-structured, so it doesn’t suck in as kids breathe.
Cat & Jack Mask Chains
Must-Have Mask Accessory
If the past school year taught us anything, it’s that the second kids take off their masks for lunch, they wind up on the table. Or floor. Keep masks from getting lost—and off of germy surfaces—with a mask chain. We’re fans of Cat & Jack’s affordable designs, which come in a range of fun colors (and beaded styles).
State Kane Kids Backpack
Kids love the fun patterns and color combos; parents love its storage capacity (books, a 13-inch laptop and a lunch box fit comfortably) and how easy it is for little ones to open and close. Just be prepared to get on a waitlist for select styles—they’re that hot right now.
Bentgo Kids Chill Lunch Box
Best Lunch Box
It’s the lunch box you know and love—Bentgo won in our inaugural awards—only this one comes with a removable ice pack, keeping foods cool longer. Oh, and it’s pretty much leakproof (and backed with a two-year warranty).
O2Cool ArcticFreeze Mist & Sip Bottle
Best Water Bottle
Double-wall insulation keeps your drink cool all day, but the real thrill is the bottle’s mist function, so your kids can cool off after P.E. (And if rainbow ombre isn't their thing, kids can choose from several prints and colors.)
Microsoft Surface Laptop Go
For something with a little more power, check out the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go. It has a faster processor and double the storage space and RAM of the Chromebook, but what really impressed us was its vibrant screen (streaming never looked better, particularly at this price point) and fast-charging mode (80 percent in an hour!).
HP Envy 6455e
When it comes to printers, you cannot beat HP’s quality and reliability. The Envy 6455e printer, scanner and copier is sleek and practically foolproof to use, whether you’re trying to turn a 35-page doc into a PDF or tackle two-sided printing. Our reviewers loved how easy it was to set up and that it contains more than 20 percent recycled plastics.
Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook
Smartest School Supplies
Middle school = endless note-taking. This reusable notebook cuts down on backpack clutter, since you can upload your notes to your computer, wipe it clean and start over. Bonus: Your digitized notes are searchable, making studying for that test so much easier.
Lil’ Labels Daycare Value Pack Write-On Name Labels
If you like it then you shoulda put a label on it. Because at daycare, things get lost. Constantly. These labels are beyond easy to use: Write a name (or allergy or medical info) on it, seal it and stick—or iron—it on. Plus, they’re waterproof and long-lasting.
The Best Books for Babies
Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton
Bedtime looms—and the mice, rabbits and deer are all getting sleepy in this colorful and captivating tale. But one of the forest animals thinks he has the energy to stay up later than the rest.
Colors: My First Pop-Up! by Matthew Reinhart
Reinhart is a paper engineer who brilliantly brings concepts to life in this interactive primer on color and imagination.
The Best Books for Toddlers
One, Two Grandma Loves You by Shelly Becker
This rhythmic book playfully captures the anticipation and happy times that are synonymous with a visit to Grandma. What kicks off with a countdown to togetherness results in a joyous adventure.
A Year of Everyday Wonders by Cheryl B. Klein
Parents, prepare to feel nostalgic; but for the kids, this book captures the sweetness of the little things in life. From the highs (like that first snowfall, first t-shirt, first summer storm) to the lows (first fight with your brother, first sunburn, first lost umbrella). By year’s end, it adds up to something special: childhood.
Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race by Megan Madison
For anyone looking for an age-appropriate way to talk about race with their kids, this book—developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism—provides a clear and concise explainer that not only helps kids articulate what they see, but also celebrates the fact that they are avid observers and questioners of their world.
The Best Books for Preschoolers
What We’ll Build by Oliver Jeffers
Equal parts serious and silly, this beautiful book follows a father and daughter as they set out to lay the foundations for their life together. Tools required? Well, it’s a special and unique set, but one that puts them in position to build toward opportunity.
Chirp! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend by Jamie A Swenson
Oh, the melodic sounds of this chipmunk—all he wants is a friend to sing his sometimes happy, sometimes sad songs to, but he keeps coming up short in his search. Spoiler: After a bumpy start, he finds friends (and harmonies) in unexpected places.
Clayton Parker Really Really Really Has to Pee by Cinco Paul
Stoked for a field trip to the zoo, Clayton Parker—oops—forgets to pee, but now that he’s amid the animals, he can’t focus: Where is the bathroom?! A cautionary but silly tale about always taking the opportunity to, er, go when you have to.
The Best Books for Ages 5 to 8
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
In this book—a celebration of volunteering—a group of resourceful neighbors turns the kitchen into chaos as they prep food using only what they’ve got (produce from the garden! canned goods in the cupboards!) with a singular goal: That everyone leaves with their bellies full.
There Must Be More Than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake
When a little girl’s glass-half-empty brother predicts that the future is doomed (intel he got from a grown-up), she consults her grandma, who imparts a valuable lesson: There are actually many possible outcomes in life. It's a solid reminder that little ears hear everything.
What’s Inside a Flower by Rachel Ignotofsky
An exploration of the natural world through flowery show-stoppers, this book is designed for backyard scientists, eager to explore their surroundings. It's the first title in a new series that champions science and inquiry.
The Best Books for Ages 8 and Up
Danny Chung Sums It Up by Maisie Chan
When 11-year-old Danny’s Chinese grandmother moves in, his life is turned upside down. For one thing, she doesn’t speak English…and they have to share a room. But when Danny starts failing math, he learns his grandma is a wiz with numbers (she used to be a math champion), and a universal language is born.
Ways to Grow Love: A Ryan Hart Story by Renée Watson
Dubbed a modern Ramona Quimby, the second tale of a girl who is “pure spirit and sunshine” doesn’t disappoint. Ryan is about to be a big sister and she’s starting camp. But her enthusiasm wanes when her mom gets put on bed rest and worries about bugs and cabin-sharing creep in. Still, courage abounds, thanks to this thoughtful heroine.
The Wild World Handbook: Habitats by Andrea Debbink
Part narrative, part interactive STEAM-focused activity set, this book features real-life tales of adventure and practical tips for exploring the outdoors designed to appeal to the next generation of climate activists, conservationists and nature lovers.
Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody
Aimed at fans of Nevermore, this fantasy debut follows Barclay Thorne, a boy who accidentally wanders into the woods, bonds with a magical beast and gets run out of town by an angry mob. Now, he has to choose: Go back home or embrace a life of adventure.
Novogratz Rue 3-in-1 Crib
Plenty of cribs convert into toddler and kids’ beds, but what sets this one apart is its sleek, modern style, reasonable price point and storage drawers large enough to hold all those baby blankets you've amassed.
Best Bedding for Babies
Gender-neutral designs that are chic, not snoozy + ultra-cozy fabrics you want to curl up in = bedding you’ll covet for your own bedroom. (The 100 percent Egyptian flax linen sheets get softer with each wash too.)
LittleHippo Mella Ready-to-Rise Sleep Trainer & Alarm Clock
Most Innovative Alarm Clock
This little guy glows from yellow to green to signal when it’s time to wake up, and features a sound machine and nap timer. But, what our testers loved most was how Mella would fall asleep with them, making it the ultimate bedtime buddy.
Pillowfort Sensory-Friendly Cocoon Seat
Coziest Kids’ Chair
Designed specifically for kids with sensory needs, this ultra-soft chair cradles children, helping them feel secure and cozy. Equally awesome: Underneath the machine-washable velvet cover is a water-resistant liner, making cleaning the seat a breeze.
Delta Activity Bench
Coolest Toy Storage
Toy storage typically falls into one of three categories: baskets, bins and bookshelves. That’s why we love this $50 wonder—it does triple-duty as a bench or workstation, in addition to keeping your kid’s LEGO collection from turning into middle-of-the-night landmines.
Clorox Compostable Cleaning Wipes
Clorox wipes have helped us get through the pandemic, and the latest iteration is even more impressive. They’re made with compostable, plant-based cloth, yet in our tests, they were every bit as effective as the original in removing grime.
Tide Ultra Stain Release
Detergent? Spot treatment? Get a bottle that can do both. Tide Ultra Stain Release works wonders as a traditional liquid laundry detergent, but where it really shines is as a spot treatment for stains: Dab a little on, use the specially designed lid of the bottle to scrub away the stain and pop it in the wash. In our tests, coffee, ketchup and pen stains were no match for it.
If you’ve ever avoided vacuuming because you dread hauling the machine around your house, you’re in good company (us). That’s what makes Dyson’s latest vac a game-changer: It weighs about 4 pounds, converts to a handheld vacuum and features two motorized soft rollers, so it can easily pivot and pick up dirt in all directions. Plus, it just gliiides across floors.
Submissions for the 2022 Awards
If you have a product you’d like to have considered for the 2022 awards, contact Executive Editor Candace Davison at email@example.com. Please include the product’s name, photos, a brief synopsis of what it does (and why people love it), price, when it was launched and where it’s sold.
Our submissions period runs from February 1, 2022 to April 1, 2022. We'll be focusing largely on products launched between September 2021 and September 2022.