Emma's Diary that it finally happened - just the kick in the backside that I needed and I'm rather excited to share my impressions and favourite exhibitors.
There's nothing like reviewing an event that had me enthusiastic about a good few exhibitors and that entertained Cubling all day long (including meltdown which I knew was going to happen but thanks to a giant Woody we turned the corner). Oh and there were a few Cartside rants too, of course, I just can't bite my tongue when someone tells me how I'm creating bad sleep habits because I rock or feed my baby to sleep. I should know better than to listen to self proclaimed Baby Sleep Gurus (and can't help myself, I do enjoy a rant you know).
I'd like to share some of my favourite exhibitors - those who had products to offer that I found excellent or useful, as well as some of the bits that I thought were missing or annoyed me a little bit.
On the whole, I was positively surprised by the wide variety of products, services and information. Of course you had your heavily branded and large companies, but there were lots of small ventures and initiatives too which made sure the Baby and Toddler Show is an excellent opportunity to find out about all things relating to baby, toddler and beyond.
Here are my top 10 of places I visited, in no particular order other than that of how the leaflets were pulled out of my bag (by the way - I don't receive any money or products from these companies for recommending them, I simply like them):
1. The Creation Station: The children's arts and crafts workshop people had a large area where children could get crafty. Cubling loved it and really made some fabulous things. The staff were brilliant and clearly loved what they were doing. We came home with some really nice and big items that now have a proud place in Cubling's bedroom.
2. Knitknacks: This is a little side business for the love of knitting. You can get absolutely stunning hand knitted vests, cardigans, and baby blankets from this Scottish lady. I adored her items, and only didn't buy anything because, well, we're not exactly short of hand-knitted stuff.
3. Tots Bots: What can I say, both my girls' bums are cuddled in Tots Bots cloth nappies. There are lots of great cloth nappies out there, and still I return to Tots Bots again and again. It's a Glasgow business, and by gum, they do a great job and beat the price of other brands too. As of now, Snowflake has a 24 hours clothed bum - some night nappies were purchased and I can declare that we've made the big scary move to say by by to disposables for good.
4. Baby Boom Boom provide multi-lingual musical fun and have created bilingual nursery rhyme cds - and yes, they proved me wrong when I said to Mr Cartside " I bet they don't have an English/German DC". (I'm rather disappointed that most bilingual products come in English/French or English/Urdu and it's rather hard to get by anything for our language pair which surely isn't an unusual combination). Basically, their nursery rhyme CDs provide second language version of popular British nursery rhymes. I can't comment on the quality of translation, but it's a great idea and there should be more of this!
5. Born Outdoors really fills a gap in the market. How I struggled to get hold of good outdoors clothing for Cubling - with only one retailer in the UK providing them by online order there wasn't much of a choice. Scottish based Born Outdoors brings Scandinavian quality and design to the UK.
6. Barefoot Books: Quite a few of our favourite ever children's books are published by Barefoot Books and I was delighted to see their stall at the Babyshow. And so was Cubling, what with a goat puppet drawing her in. She instantly made friends with the Barefoot Books Scotland Ambassador, and I was able to browse the full selection of books on display and went away with a few new story treasures. I particularly liked the collection of stories from around the world with CDs to listen to which are ideal for children from 4 years of age.
7. Ethical Classics make, er, well, ethical classics clothing. The company is founded on ethical principles, both in the production of clothing and their own operation, and the clothing is just stunning. I'm not one who gets excited about clothing (hand-made excluded) but their ranges really is to drool over. It really is something different, simple, timeless beauty.
8. Raindrops is another Scandinavian outdoor clothing shop for kids, based in West Sussex. I'm pretty happy to see two shops specialising in kids' outdoor clothing and have bookmarked both shops for future reference and forest kindergarten shopping.
9. Fill your pants: For anyone looking for advice on the wide range of cloth nappies on the market, Fill your pants was the right pit stop. If there was one mission I had when going to the babyshow it was to find some night cloth nappies, and the nappy gurus at Fill your Pants were just the right people to put me on track, even though it meant I didn't end up buying from them.
10. Meningitis Association of Scotland: There is no way I could not mention this stall, and the important work this charity does. In particular, they currently highlight the availability of Strep B tests for pregnant women. Many women carry Strep B and if baby is infected, it can become seriously ill after birth. This can be prevented by testing for Strep B before baby is born - however, while the test is available upon request, it is not generally offered to pregnant women. So, if you're pregnant and worried you may carry Strep B, do ask for the test and you'll get it for free on the NHS. I didn't know it was available and would definitely have requested it.
However, I thought it was a shame that there wasn't a single stall specialising in baby slings, while the buggy/pram area was massive. Considering how much I use my sling in comparison to other baby gear, and how I wish I'd never wasted the money on a pram, I feel that this is a real shame and means many parents-to-be miss out on information on baby slings.
Similarly, there was no stall focussing on breast-feeding information or support. It is guesswork why this is so, but I think it may be something to do with the cutback in breast-feeding support and the nature of how this support is organised.
I was pleased to see that most exhibitors provided cloth or paper bags for their publicity materials, but unfortunately some of the major players still hang on to plastic. I'm not going to name and shame though as I didn't manage to speak to them and ask why, which I really should have done. Another slight annoyance is the never ending collection of my personal details. I have my ways of tracking spam - but in general I do wonder if it's really so important to have all possible ways of contacting me. I'm more than happy to give out my email address, should that not be enough? Once again I can only wait and hope that my address is not sold on and we receive even more junk mail that goes straight to the bin.
The day was definitely worth it, I got myself some lovely night cloth nappies and beautiful books, plus lots of information. Cubling absolutely enjoyed herself, the highlight of the day for her was meeting Woody, Mickey Mouse and Peppa Pig (though she was sad that Buzz Lightyear wasn't there) and Snowflake was rather amazed by all the buzz and balloons.
::::: Full Disclosure: I received free tickets to the Babyshow in exchange for writing about the Show, courtesy of Emma's Diary. All views expressed in this post are mine, as is the selection of featured exhibitors:::::