I was lucky enough to be offered tickets to attend the Baby Show at the NEC Birmingham and took with me my mum and two of my daughters aged 8 and 3. We arrived at the NEC at around 11am after arriving by train. The NEC was really close to the NEC with walkways connecting it to Birmingham International train station, although be prepared to queue for the lifts if you are taking a pram. We found it was easier to get my 3yr old out of the pram so we could then go down the escalators and avoid having to queue for the lift. My 8yr old loved the moving walkway and shouted happily "Look how fast I'm walking! I'm beating everyone!"
We arrived at the NEC and we were given the opportunity to test a limited edition Quinny Zapp Xtra pushchair (more on that to come) and left our old buggy at the press office where we also received press wristbands. Mum said she'd never been a member of press before and felt very important! The lady we met was lovely and she took us straight to the Maxi Cosi/Quinny stand where we met another lovely lady who showed us all about the Quinny Zapp and the Kenson design. I was glad we had a pushchair as it made it a lot easier and safer to contain my 3yr old, rather than worry about her running off or getting lost. She also sat comfortably in the pram and even fell asleep in it!
The first place we visited was the Little Tykes stay and play area to allow the girls to burn off some energy after the long train journey. Nanny stayed with them whilst I popped over to meet 2011 Apprentice winner Tom Pellereau for an exclusive look at his new product (which I cannot talk about yet). Tom was really lovely and I look forward to telling you all about his new product.
Afterwards we had a walk around looking at all the stalls. Nanny and the girls even got to try out a massive Fisher Price baby bouncer, which looked so comfortable!
I met some lovely ladies at Mum Kind who gave me some of their new pregnancy products to try whilst nanny and the girls watched the Fisher Price Love to Play puppy and sis on the main stage.
There was so much to see and do, I was glad I had printed out a list of all the stalls which had competitions or special offers I was interested in so I could visit them all. There was products I had heard about and enjoyed being able to study them in greater detail or to ask questions about, and there was new products I hadn't heard about before but wonder now how I survived without them.
The star of the show has to be my 8yr old as she was offered a job at at least two different stalls and persuaded me to part with some money and buy a Cuddledry apron/towel by reminding me how much I hate ending up soaking wet when I bath the girls!
I must admit I didn't buy much and actually surprised hubby by coming home with money, but that was because I was scared if I started spending I wouldn't stop as there was so many things I wanted! Also because the baby isn't here yet and because I'm not 100% certain that she is a girl, I didn't want to buy anything pink or personalised in case she was a boy!
I would love to go again, this time with the baby in tow and I can guarantee hubby I will not be coming home with any money, especially as there was so many beautiful items and clothes on offer including personalised ones!
But there was more than just stalls selling their wares, there was also lots of information and on the main stage they had;
Prof Robert Winston
One of the most well known professor and BBC presenter, he was on The Baby Show Stage with MadeForMums providing tips and advice on baby development and offering his invaluable experience to new and expecting parents.
The well known children's nutritional expert (I mean who hasn't heard of her or her book) and author of "The Complete Baby & Toddler Mealplanner" was on hand to give advice on nutrition and weaning as well as sharing some of her great recipes
One of the UK's leading Sleep Experts, Jo has lots of experience in helping parents organise sleep patters or who are already battling sleep demons. Full of useful tips she gained working in nurseries, baby units and as a maternity nurse over the past 25 years to help make night time that little bit easier.
Former midwife and celebrity breastfeeding expert, Clare was on the stage to discuss common breastfeeding issues and techniques and what you can do if you can't breastfeed. Valuable advice for expectant parents who are planning to breastfeed as almost all breastfeeding problems are caused by incorrect latching of the baby to the breast.
The Natal Company also offered special classes designed to help expectant parents cope with the demands of becoming a parent for the first time.
One of the places I was tempted to go, but didn't because of the queue and didn't get chance to go back to was the Fisher Price Mum-to-be pampering area. My suggestion would be to pop there first and book your time slot and then head over to the crèche to book your little one in (if you have one) so you can enjoy the pampering without worry! The crèche also requires booking if you just want to use that. There was other play areas for little ones to enjoy as well, but they required you to stay with them.
Facilities wise there was a lot on offer. A cafe and bar was hidden at the back, as well as the Joie cafe and, much to my daughters delight, an ice-cream kiosk and a pick-n-mix sweets one. As well as feeding areas for the little ones and a baby changing area. Another handy place to visit is the Emma's Diary Shop & Drop area, where you can leave all your purchases, especially the big bulky ones, to pick up later by car. If you do have a little one with you, don't forget to visit the Baby Show Star's Competition where you can have their picture taken and you get to take home a 6x4 colour image for free. The winning child's picture will be used as part of the advertising for the 2014 Baby Show, 3 photo sessions for you and your little one to enjoy and a 1 year modelling contract with Truly Scrumptious.
As for prams, I had never seen so many prams under one roof, and so many brands as well. What I especially liked was that you were able to try the pram and examine it as much as you liked and the staff were very knowledgeable and helpful about their products. I remember when I bought my 3yr old's first pram I thought I had found the perfect pram, a pramette which folded quite small and seemed to have everything I wanted and was looking for. Sadly I wasn't able to try the pram before I bought it and it wasn't until I started using it did I realise it had one major flaw. The 5 point harness was a nightmare to fasten, as you had to fasten each one of the straps (including the shoulder straps) individually! Had I been to the Baby Show back then, I would have examined the pram and discovered the fault and been able to choose a better more suitable one. I also liked the fact that everything was on special offer with a discount just for the Baby Show.
All in all it was a fabulous day out and now I'm wondering if I can persuade hubby to let me go to the next one in Olympia Kensington on the 25th-27th October 2013, especially as the baby will be here then and I'll be able to buy some fabulous things for her ready for Christmas!