Every year, at the ExCel center in Kensington Olympia, all the different baby brands come together to try to sell you the latest and greatest of baby paraphernalia in one place.
Is it worth going to the Baby Show?
Apart from the anxiety-inducing flashbacks to wedding preparation, I am always in two minds as to whether this sort of event is truly useful or more in the vein of a hard sell in a pre-prepared marketing space.
My background taught me that everyone can be encouraged (read: manipulated) into buying stuff if you can control the environment, you have a well-scripted message and you can keep them in the room to listen to that message for long enough.
Seen through that lens, The Baby Show is basically an opportunity for brands to hard-sell to every unwitting customer who went there thinking it was a show put on for their benefit.
But there’s another side to that coin.
If you’ve done a fair bit of research, you have a fixed budget and you know what you need to buy, then this is not only a place where you can purchase almost everything at a discount, but also an event where you will have almost every single brand under one roof.
So, rule number one is: come prepared.
The Baby Show costs money to enter. So unless you’re willing to spend the money (£20 per ticket, 25% off if you purchase early through their site (click here)) just for the pleasure of seeing a lot of baby stuff, you probably want to be purchasing enough stuff that the discount you’re getting (from 10% to 30% on various stands) adds up to more than the ticket price.
We went there near the end of last year, when V was only a month or so old, because we needed lots of things, and I have a strong preference for seeing something before I buy it. We purchased all sorts of small things but the real investment that made it worth it was the crib/bed from Stokke, which is expensive anyway and is worth finding a discount on.
Rule number two is: have a shopping list that makes it worth your while financially
The show itself is, as you would expect, extremely baby-friendly. There is a large baby-changing area (sponsored by a brand, like everything else), where they show off changing tables, odour-containing nappy disposals, their brand of nappies/diapers and their brand of baby wipes, all provided for free.
There are coffee stands and food stands (passable, but don’t expect gastronomic cuisine) and enough different sellers and resellers of baby equipment to get a real sense of almost every single available product on the market. For some people, that alone will make the minimum half-day trip worth it.
Personally, after a few hours in the show, I was ready to leave – I don’t do well in mass shopping environments – but was forced to admit that financially speaking, we did make a small saving on much of the sleeping kit that we were going to have to buy sooner or later anyway, and I feel slightly better about buying expensive brands when they are discounted at least part of the way towards the price of more reasonable equivalents.
Rule number three: make the most of the present, but that applies to everything, not just the baby show.