4 September 2011

Manchester Baby Show

UPDATE 2012: While I feel the Baby Show should be a brilliant experience for new mothers, I can no longer endorse this event and I won't be attending in future. Unfortunately Clarion Events which organises the Baby Show also owns a portfolio of arms fairs - the largest of which is the DSEI (Defense & Security Expo International) held in London every other year.

Personally I don't buy weapons, so I can't boycott the DSEI arms faire itself, but I can boycott the Baby Show to express my disgust. It's also worth noting that many leading companies are now boycotting the Baby Show including the Royal College of Midwives, Bounty, Mumsnet & UNICEF which seems to have lead to concerns about the show's content - for more information try reading this article at the Huffington Post.
We are called to live 'in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars'. Do you faithfully maintain our testimony that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ? Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war. Stand firm in our testimony, even when others commit or prepare to commit acts of violence, yet always remember that they too are children of God.
- Quaker Advices & Queries 31
For me, I've been uncomfortable with the blog post for a few months now. I feel it not only supports those seeds of war, but directly counters the efforts of my fellow Quakers protesting the DSEI Fairs. We each have to make our own choices, and I can no longer stand silent.

-Kate

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I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I volunteered to go the Manchester Baby Show for Emma’s Diary. I started to get really worried when I registered for the free tickets; they wanted to know if I was pregnant, the partner of someone pregnant, or the friend, mother, grandmother of someone pregnant. In the end I selected ‘Other (ex. Trade)’, but I wondered if this was really an event for me. Let me assure any other people still trying to get pregnant, the Baby Show is certainly worth a look.

Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I started planning for a baby years before we started trying. I knew having a baby would be difficult with my health problems, but the right equipment could make a real difference. The Baby Show is a brilliant opportunity to get expert advice and try products for yourself.

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Our first stop was the MAM stall as I’d pre-registered for a free self-sterilising anti-colic bottle. The MAM Bottle is a really clever product, perfect for while on the go. Rather than lug a big steriliser around with you, the bottle disassembles into a mini steamer.  Measure a bit of water in the lid and then pour it into the base. Place the teat in the base and loosely place the bottle body over the top. Then pop it into the microwave for 3 minutes, that’s it! In addition is has a silky silicone teat that hopefully makes switching between breast and bottle easier and there is a vented base that helps prevent colic. It looks like a great idea, though it will be a long time before we can try it out.

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The next stall to catch our attention belonged to Scottish company Planet Tots. They specialise in eco-friendly baby clothes and toys. We had a long chat about their lovely organic bamboo clothes, which have a lower carbon-foot print than organic cotton. They also had a lovely Oobicoo Doll made from recycled and recyclable materials. The gorgeous plush is the size of a six month old baby, so can be dressed in your old baby clothes. Rather than come in a cardboard box, each doll comes in a green fabric ‘pod’ so there’s no packaging waste either. Now that Quakers have decided we’re going to be a low-carbon community, Planet Tots is a company I’ll keep in mind.

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We finally got down to business at the ItsABaby.co.uk stall. They had a huge number of pushchairs and fantastic friendly assistants. A couple of years ago when I started looking at pushchairs only the Bugaboo Chameleon really fit our requirements. I needed a really tall handle to protect my back, it needed to be really light-weight, both parent and forward facing, and suitable from birth. My problem with the Bugaboo is that you seem to be paying extra to be fashionable. So I was hoping I’d find some pushchair alternatives at the Baby Show.  We were quickly referred to the UPPABaby Vista, which was brilliant! It’s an eco-friendly design that doesn’t feel significantly heavier and is virtually as tall. It comes with a both a carry cot and a seat, so you can quickly switch them back and forth and when the seat is facing forward you can collapse the chair in a beautiful smooth motion! The chassis can even stand up by itself, so I won’t need to bend over to pick it up. So many of the same benefits as the Bugaboo while not costing as much, the UPPAbaby Vista is just what I was looking for.

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My final highlight is the Babymule Baby Changing Bag.  I’m not great at carrying heavy bags, so I need something I can adapt day-to-day. The Babymule’s clever design means you can carry it in several ways. You can clip the bag to your pushchair, you can sling the bag over your shoulder like a messenger bag or you can wear it as a back pack. Specially designed for women, the backpack straps are shaped for a woman’s figure and there is even a hip belt to help carry the weight. When not in use the straps are tucked away in special pockets of the bag. Also included in the bag is a changing mat, a changing pouch, a neoprene insulating bottle cover and a water proof bag for dirty cloths and clothes. Even with all this there’s still room for a packed lunch and more. A versatile bag that’s great when travelling, the Babymule retails for £84.

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We were really impressed with the Manchester Baby Show, even my husband found enough to keep him interested. There were several stalls with innovative products and plenty of seating in Emma's Diary Cafe for when I got tired. If we’d been ready to buy on the day we could easily have made up the ticket price through the special Baby Show discounts. It was a definitely worth the trip out and I’d recommend it to anyone planning for a baby. If you’re sorry you missed out, don’t worry as there are another three shows planned: Earls Court 28-30 October 2011, Excel London 24-26 February 2012 and NEC Birmingham 18-20 May 2012.

*Received free show tickets from Emma’s Diary for review purposes*