Parenting Expos are a great way to get a lot of information about what products, services and information is available to parents. You’ll get to see what’s new, innovative and interesting on the market.
However it can be completely overwhelming and a little bit frightening for new parents, as practically every stand will have a different message about what you need to ensure the future health and happiness of your baby.
If possible go on the first day, when the doors first open. A few reasons for this:
- You’ll most likely beat the crowds. Expos get super busy, so they’re loud, difficult to get around, and you’ll wait longer on stands to get service.
- The exhibitors will have all of their stock available. By the last day quite often the more popular items (so the items you’re most likely to want to purchase) have sold out.
- The exhibitors are fresh and excited to see you. Expos are pretty exhausting so the quality of the demonstrations and conversations you have on the afternoon of the last day may have started to wane a little.
Get on the website of the show/expo and get a good idea about what brands you’ll be able to find there, and also if there are going to be any stage shows you’d be interested in watching and have an idea of who and what you’d like to see when you arrive. It’s not necessarily so you make a bee-line to those exhibitors, but just so you know what to look out for while you’re browsing.
Have a Budget
Expos are an awesome opportunity to grab a bargain. Because you’re often dealing directly with the brand they can offer you prices that you will never see in stores. HOWEVER it’s very very easy to overspend on things you don’t actually need. It’s a good idea to go in with a bit of a shopping list (ie – pram, baby carrier, nappies – whatever it is) and a rough idea of how much you’d be prepared to spend on each. As well a as a bit of spending money for small impulse buys and also food and drink as browsing is hard work and you might need a bit of a pitstop.
Wear comfortable shoes
Expect lots of walking. If you walk up and down each aisle at large expo you’ll likely cover a good few kilometers.
Bring a buddy
Ideally if you can bring the other parent to your child(ren) then when you do come across a major purchase at an unbeatable price you can make that decision on the spot rather than possibly needing to wait for their input. ALSO you’ll probably collect a fair armload of show bags, brochures and samples – not to mention any large purchases you might make – so an extra pair of arms won’t go astray.
Leave the Pram at Home
If bub is already earthside, it might seem counter intuitive to ditch the pram, especially when as I mentioned you will likely end up with a lot of stuff to bring home – but unless you get in before the crowds, trying to navigate through a sea of people, prams, small children and enthusiastic exhibitors can be a real pain with a pram. For this you will need some kind of baby carrier. Not that I’m at all bias, but if you don’t already have one, I’d recommend the first thing you do when you arrive at an expo is go directly to the Ergobaby stand, and buy one of their carriers, take it out of the box, put it on immediately, and then go look at everything else at the expo.
True story – that’s sort of how I ended up buying my first Ergobaby carrier (in 2009) I was walking around a baby show in Sydney, lugging my 10 month old son in my arms as I walked passed the Ergobaby stand and a demonstrator stepped out and asked me if I’d like to try it on and then let me “borrow” it for the rest of the expo, and I returned it before I left. I don’t think this is standard practice – I must have an honest face and didn’t look like I was just going to take off with the carrier – and while I didn’t go back to purchase it at the expo, I did go home and buy one online from an authorised stockist.
Ideally heading to an parenting expo should be an enjoyable experience. It’s not a chore, it’s not a requirment, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to – you’ll still be able to choose a pram and raise a baby without ever having attended a baby expo if it doesn’t seem like something you’d enjoy doing.
There’s no pressure to buy. There’s nothing at the expo that you can’t live without – or buy elsewhere at a later date. SOME exhibitors might even honour exhibition prices for a short period of time in store, or online, if you ask super nicely.
Have you been to parenting expos? What did you think of them? What advice would you give new parents before they head to one?