VISITED: The Baby and Toddler Show Manchester | PART 1
Last week the Baby and Toddler Show came to Manchester’s Eventcity and we were invited along to go check it out and share some of our highlights. Being the UK’s biggest baby show, we couldn’t wait to experience the event for ourselves – and it was to be Reuben’s first show and furthest trip!
* Our tickets were provided free in return for review
Looking at the itinerary on the show’s website, we had a foresight into what kind of products would be showing. With major buggy brands and an eclectic mix of boutique fashion labels and baby care innovations, there was plenty for us to be looking at. And the little extras made the show all the more appealing: free changing facilities provided by Lidl, free baby food, product samples and exclusive show offers as well as expert talks and free parking to top it off, promising a family friendly day out.
Reuben did really well on the journey to Manchester and the little man was still fast asleep in his car seat as we arrived shortly after opening. The queue was already weaving out of the door but we were inside pretty quick and before I knew it I had a free Nuby bottle thrust into my hands (very gladly received, I may add), tickets were handed over and we were in. Well, once the obligatory toilet run was dealt with!
So, what did we get up to? Top of my agenda was the Lidl changing room as Reuben needed a nappy refresh after the long morning. Lidl had created an intimate but roomy changing room catering for several babies at any one time, with high top changing tables equipped with own brand Toujours nappy sacks and baby wipes, while two Lidl representatives handed out whichever number nappy you needed. Even though we still went with our usual packed changing bag it relieved a lot of potential stress to use the big Lidl room with the ready to use tables.
Lidl was also there giving out goody bags at their ‘home’ stand, showcasing their own brand Lidl’uns baby foods in the kitchen area. Reuben eagerly sampled some of the rice crackers, carrot sticks and pouch dinners, seemingly enjoying the bananas and peaches pouch, and the intriguingly purple toned sweet potatoes, pumpkins, blueberries and apples pouch. The pouches are only 55p each which I think is an amazing price compared to premium equivalents, but I do wish they didn’t put apple in every recipe, which is what I like about the likes of Hipp Organic where their veggie pouches really are just veg. Come on Lidl, leave out the fruit!
Thanks to the spacious dining area in the centre of the venue we had somewhere to quickly locate to settle down and feed Reuben his milk. I noticed there was a refreshment stand offering hot drinks and snacks but sadly we couldn’t locate the free baby food. The show programme didn’t say where to actually find the Babease baby food that was being provided free to all babies and I never saw any venue staff to ask for help, so Reuben never got his free dinner. Thankfully we’d brought a packed lunch along so Reuben had some tomatoes and cucumber from home, but I was admittedly quite disappointed he never got his Babease.
As we were trekking around with the pushchair I fancied getting Reuben into his carrier so we headed over to the Izmi stand to ask for advice on fitting. Izmi were there providing free carrier trials to all mums wishing to carry their babies around the show and I was sent their award winning cotton baby carrier to use myself and review later on (be sure to check back for the full review coming soon.) I’d played around with it before the show but wanted to be sure how I was wearing it was correct, so it was great to get a walk through of the easy fit steps with the guys on their stand. I had a chat with the really lovely Izmi designer Emily Williamson who spoke about how the Izmi carrier came about and her involvement in the baby carrying movement, which was just great to hear from the lady herself. I was able to tell her how comfy the carrier was to wear but to be honest, the fact Reuben had fallen asleep in it spoke volumes!
Being Nestle brands, the SMA and Cerelac stands were together, both offering samples. To receive the SMA goody bag you needed to register for their online membership which you had to fill in on an iPad. It took a bit too long to do really, as there were so many people crowding around and falling out of any queuing system. It would have been much quicker just asking for email addresses or offering paper forms that people could at least take away and fill in elsewhere. Inside the Cerelac bag was a 25g sample packet of the milk cereal with a branded melamine bowl and plastic spoon. We’ve already tried it out and it’s a fab freebie! Cerelac smells really appetising with a scent of vanilla, and the bowl and spoon are perfectly handy now Reuben’s well on his weaning journey.
The SMA freebie was a magnet (which I found majorly disappointing when I saw some people receiving bibs!) and two samples of their ready made follow on milk. In all honesty I’m not sure if I’ll use these milks since Reuben doesn’t drink SMA (actually Aldi’s Mamia formula!) and I wouldn’t want to upset his tummy with a different manufacturer, so in that respect it’s an odd freebie. You shouldn’t really switch about a baby’s milk brand because babies tummies pick up on it, so I think just providing some product info would have been best – and that lovely bib.
Speaking of bibs, we spotted at least three very similiar looking stands selling dribble bibs. At first I thought they were the same business but realised they were actually independent of each other. I ended up buying 6 bibs for £10 from the Zippy stand which I thought was very reasonable, and the designs were different to what I’ve generally seen about the shops. One of my favourites has a rainbow print which I think is perfect for my rainbow baby (a baby born after miscarriage). I also got hot air balloons, ducks, racing cars, stars and a hot air balloon and aeroplane design. They’re not made in the UK which is a shame but they feel a decent quality.
As the Baby and Toddler Show was so big I’m splitting my round up into two posts.
Did you go to the Baby and Toddler Show at Manchester? Are you thinking about going to another of their shows? What’s your experience of baby shows?