The Baby and Toddler Show conspiracy: Expectant dads needn’t tell partners everything
Allow me to set the scene – the second weekend of April had arrived and Britain was bathed in sumptuous sunshine.
That warmth though.
The weekend also coincided with The Baby & Toddler Show, which took place at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey, from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th.
Now, as a person, I’m a planner. I’m the guy who always finds and pitches events, whether that’s a grime gig, festival, orchestra or, in this case – and the foreseeable future – a parenting exhibition.
Having discovered the Baby & Toddler Show (BTS) coming up, I floated going along to Jenna and she was game.
In addition to my habit of planning and sniffing out things to do, I like to surprise too, which is something you may have gathered if you saw my Mother’s Day post.
There’s a limit to surprises you can perform during pregnancy though – jumping out of cupboards goes out the window, for example.
And I can hardly spring a day or night out on Jenna without advanced notice, especially at this stage of the pregnancy (it’s week 32 now) as she could be feeling uncomfortable, tired or simply prefer creature comforts in her favourite Batman nightie.
Add that to the fact trying to surprise this woman is like trying to conceal a crime from Sherlock Holmes. She’s more inquisitive than the people who wanted to know if our daughter was planned, so it’s pretty tricky territory to keep anything under wraps.
However, as it happens, Jenna’s cousin Graham and his partner Megan (Gregan) are also expecting – just a week after us actually – but they’re a good two-hour drive away, so casual drop-in visits aren’t really feasible.
That’s when the plotting came in. Expectant dads needn’t run everything by their other halves…
We haven’t seen each other since the pregnancies, so I messaged Graham on the sly to see if they fancied meeting us at the BTS – helpfully located exactly halfway between us both – with the added twist that we’d surprise the girls. He was in.
The shock on Jenna’s face as I said we had company just before Gregan materialised was just as I’d hoped – the third trimester must be slowing down her snooping abilities because she didn’t suspect a thing.
Getting together as four expectant parents was amazing. I’ve said before that of my friends, there’s not anyone else in our shoes currently, so it was great to trade stories about what we’re all going through. They’re even having a daughter too.
The show itself ran from 10am-5pm, but we arrived just after 11am to get started before the rampant hordes of harassed parents and hungry infants were out in force. And thankfully the car park, which was free, hadn’t quite reached pitch Carmageddon at that point either.
It was already buzzing with excited chatter inside though, as a fusion of dads and expectant ones, women with bumps and others with buggies, as well as grandparents, all soaked up the atmosphere and perused stands – of which there were more than 100.
Everything from clothing and cots to blankets and buggies, photographers and sculptors were all available, and let’s not forget the countless bottles, bibs and beyond.
A nice touch was a free goodie bag for mums-to-be (what about us dads though – it was our idea to come along?!) from Vital Baby. It came with a branded baby spoon, sanitising water and a packet of “squished smoothie fruits” from Ella’s Kitchen.
It was a smart move because the queue on the Vital stand was pretty hefty. During that wait, we ended up buying a Health & Safety Kit, inclusive of digital bath thermometer, flexisafe thermometer (you don’t want to know where that one goes) and nasal decongester for the all-important game-changing removal of bogies – this is my life now.
Elsewhere on our list of purchases, we were intrigued by the teething jewellery range from Nibbling, founded by Emily, a London-based Canadian and mother of three. I’ll be honest with you – I’m resisting the urge from chomping down on Bump’s teething clip as I write this, it looks so damn edible.
Outside of the goods available, workshops were also taking place, offering guidance on water safety, feeding options and more.
The highlight for me, however, was the discovery of Babyzen.
A rising buggy brand, Richard on the Babyzen stand dazzled the four of us as he effortlessly folded and unfolded the Babyzen Yoyo pram with one hand. ONE HAND! As if that weren’t enough, he casually slipped it on his shoulder like it were a gym bag.
It’s like a Transformer of the pram world.
I know I’m new to this, but I didn’t know that such feats were possible. So much for needing a family car – you could travel on a moped with that bad boy. Suppose there would be the awkward dilemma of where the baby would sit though.
The company has a great name too, obviously…
After all of our parental perusing, we slipped off to find a pub garden for lunch. Less than five minutes up the road and we happened across the Marquis of Granby.
Not only was it picturesque (and in possession of an incredibly tasty jerk chicken burger with mango salsa and pineapple chunks), the service was speedy and it was blissfully quiet too – which the four of us embraced while we can – a shock to us all given the gorgeous weather.
With the first parenting event done and dusted, I’m already set for the next. Dad’s the word.