Life for new and expectant parents usually includes loads of advice from well-meaning friends and family. I remember feeling overwhelmed as I tried to navigate the questions of what I should buy and which services I might need. Facebook groups and google helped me to narrow down my choices but I usually preferred to visit a store or meet with a service provider before making my decision. New parenthood is a vulnerable time and these conversations helped ease my worries.
It seems I'm not the only parent to feel this way. I recently chatted with Sandy Pedrogao, show manager of The Baby Show and here's what she had to say about the importance of real life conversations for parents at her show, “There is something really special about human connection and we love providing new and expecting parents an opportunity to meet experts and business owners who know exactly what they are going through. Nothing beats shaking someone’s hand and getting a pressing question answered on the spot.” Doesn't that make so much sense? I loved Sandy's sentiment and the shopping advice she shared with us for new parents in our fun interview.
Meet The Baby Show Manager, Sandy
Sandy, as a long-time editor of Oh Baby! magazine, what motivated you to start a bi- annual live event, in two cities?!
Having exhibited at so many different shows over the years with Oh Baby! Magazine, we found that there wasn’t a show that was giving us what we needed – both as business owners in the parenting industry and as parents. We thought that it was time that we just fill the need ourselves. We wanted to create a show with a strong focus on education and to provide new and expecting parents with a destination that has everything they need to enter this new stage in life. It took a few years, but after speaking with fellow business owners in the parenting field and pin pointing what our own needs were in that space, we felt that we were ready to start our own show.
With most baby products available online plus the ability to get product advice in social networks, why do you think expectant moms are interested in attending The Baby Show? What do they get from the experience that they can’t get online?
I still believe that some of the best conversations happen face to face. There is something really special about human connection and we love providing new and expecting parents an opportunity to meet experts and business owners who know exactly what they are going through. Nothing beats shaking someone’s hand and getting a pressing question answered on the spot. Having said that, the internet is probably one of the best things to happen to parents – information at your fingertips 24/7 is pretty invaluable. Show attendees get to meet local and national experts and to find out about products and services in person and then continue that new relationship online – that could be signing up for a newsletter or simply liking a new page on facebook.
When I had my first child in 2007, I felt like an outlier for my focus of wanting to find natural and sustainable gear for my son. Now, it seems like more and more parents are seeking products that are mindful of our planet and people. What do you think has lead to this change?
Awareness. We are lucky to live in a time and place where a large focus on eco-conscious living is at the top of our priority list. Simply put, people are talking about being green more – thanks to websites like yours, it’s not something that is so out of reach for the average person. And parents want what’s best for their babies, which I’m happy to say now includes a healthy planet.
Speaking of being mindful, The Baby Show has shifted focus to highlight sustainable products and local services. We’re especially excited about the Healthy Moms Toronto zone. Tell us a bit about who we can expect to see at the show? How were the vendors selected?
This is definitely one of the areas that sets us apart from other parenting shows who focus more on major corporate sponsorship and spend little attention on being eco-friendly and environmentally responsible. The Enercare Centre is LEED Gold Certified and essentially the greenest indoor venue in the GTA. The vendors that you will find in the Healthy Moms Toronto zone are a great group of companies with a focus on natural, organic, eco-friendly products and services available to parents in the Greater Toronto Area. You’ll find anything from naturopathic doctors, farm fresh organic grocery delivery to hair and body care and cloth diapers.
What advice would you give your best expectant friend about shopping for baby gear?
Really think about what your lifestyle is like when shopping for your gear. For example, the perfect stroller for someone who drives a lot will look much different than the perfect stroller for a city walker. Talk to other parents. A parent who is just a few months ahead of you on this life changing journey will have great knowledge to share with you. At the end of the day we all need stuff that we never thought we’d need when we become parents. It’s great to be prepared but you’ll find that the most important thing really is keeping yourself rested and healthy and building a strong support – find your parenting village! You’ll need that the most.
We all have that baby product that we didn’t know we needed until we NEEDED.IT.NOW.! Mine was a breast pump to help see me through the pain of nursing with a blocked duct. Share your story with us.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was to have a baby that weighed 8 lbs 14 oz! I had filled his drawers with the cutest receiving blankets – only problem was that he was so big that I could barely swaddle him – the blankets just weren’t big enough! When I did manage to get a swaddle on, it wouldn’t actually keep for very long which resulted in a screaming baby. I was lucky to find large, sweet, and soft blankets that were lightweight and just perfect. He was swaddled nicely for the first few months of his life with fabric to spare. 10 years later, an aden + anais blanket is a product that I will always recommend to all expecting parents.
As a first time mom-to-be sometimes you don’t know which questions to ask to find out if a product or service is a good fit. How can an expectant mom make the most out of her time at The Baby Show? What question should she ask the vendors?
Firstly, visit the show’s website and have a look at the exhibitor list as well as the speaker series. Create a list of must-sees at The Baby Show so that you meet your needs and get your most pressing questions answered. You don’t want to miss out on a demo or vendor that will help you on your journey. Secondly, dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes. You don’t want your time at the show to be uncomfortable for you – you are there to learn and to shop some pretty great vendors. Most importantly, there will be a variety of products and services at the show (we have over 180 vendors!) so one of the most important questions you should ask any vendor – no matter what they are offering, is how to reach them after the show. Take their card and make notes. You’ll speak to a lot of people at the show and what you don’t want is to go home and forget something that could make your life easier.
Thanks for all your great shopping advice, Sandy!
The Baby Show is coming to Toronto in less than two weeks and if you have questions about motherhood, make a point to attend. I love that they have a dedicated Healthy Moms Toronto zone to make finding healthy choices for families that much simpler. And if you go, be sure to say hello to our contributors, Rebecca Saha of iSpyClothing, a clothing resale shop, and Dr. Rachel Schwartzmen, ND of West End Naturopathic Doulas who will be there as vendors! Use code: GMC16 to get $3 off your ticket.