Oh mama! The Baby Show at London Excel offers informed, no-nonsense advice to parents-to-be

By Liz Cook
March 2 2020, 13.00

“Guess what you’re allowed to do when you’re pregnant or giving birth?

“Anything you like!”

The mood on the main stage at this weekend’s 18th annual Baby Show was one of positivity and empowerment.

The UK’s largest parenting event at London’s ExCel Centre was back with hundreds of stands and three full days of expert speakers.

Among the expected and expectant 25,000 visitors, your resident pregnant SWL reporter Liz Cook cruised the event for the sagest of parenting advice.

The Baby Show started strong, with live panels such as ‘How to Survive the First Three Months’, where early years experts like Becca Maberly and Heidi Skudder gave their take on maintaining sanity whilst sustaining life.

The audience were treated to no-nonsense breastfeeding advice from expert-to-the-stars (like Kate Winslet and Gerri Halliwell), Clare Byam-Cook, who reassured mothers that cows and sheep face the same issues too, FYI. Some mothers can’t, some babies won’t.

And as Instagram approaches its 10-year anniversary, the biggest online parenting ‘influencers’ took to the stage in panels around the ‘Expectations vs Reality’ of pregnancy and child-rearing.

As someone in ‘The Drop Zone’, with one cool week to go until I expect my first baby, I was heartened by the sense of community among parents at the show. The seriousness of parenting seemed absent, in place of priority on one’s own mental health and inner balance.

SNUG AS A BUG: SWL’s Liz Cook tries out an oversized buggy

Youtuber and star of several Baby Show talks Louise Pentland asked the audience if they imagined they’d be a ‘Cashmere Mum’: glossy, well-groomed and Zenlike in motherhood. Louise’s fellow panellists reassured the sleepless and unwashed among us that, although getting five minutes alone is actually the best you can wish for, it’s all very much worth it.

The information shared by experts was a mixture of true wellbeing – eating dark leafy greens in the first week can both restore iron and combat ‘baby blues’ mood (Lucinda Miller) – and the realness we crave: it’s okay to follow a home birth with a trip to McDonald’s (Louise Pentland).

Your new baby is effectively a stranger so don’t be so hard on yourself, the experts said. Among the talks and the aircraft hangar full of retail stands, there was a spirit of celebration.

As the weekend unfolded, parents were informed with talks on teaching language skills and learning baby first aid; the agenda was free from gender-bias (although, dads – remember to take a photo of the mum holding the baby, yeah?) and avoided sickly phrases like ‘the miracle of life’ etc.

I will leave you with a fun yet worrying fact from naturopath Lucinda Miller: a mother’s diet in the last few weeks of pregnancy will make up the core nutrients initially consumed by the baby.

100% Mini Eggs for my bairn, then.

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