A Point 6 Day Out at The Baby Show 2021
On Friday 22nd October, the Point 6 Social Team hit up the Baby Show at Kensington Olympia, a sort of trade show for all things childcare. Point 6 represents Philips Avent, one of the world’s leading companies in the childcare sector, so we felt it was important to keep up to speed with the various current and upcoming industry trends. This was an opportunity to discover new innovations, ask questions from those within the industry who live and breathe this stuff, and, as (mild) outsiders, to observe and take note of any budding trends that presented themselves to us. You can read about those trends here.
And so, on a chilly autumnal morning, our social team (fittingly made up entirely of childless twenty-somethings) infiltrated the Baby Show in the name of good old-fashioned research.
We blended in seamlessly, of course. In amongst the sea of exhausted new parents and bump-bellied soon-to-be’s, we glided up and down the aisles to only occasional raised eyebrows. Admittedly, if you saw three young women and one young man at an event almost exclusively for expecting couples, you, too, may have thought you were witnessing the fallout from an as-yet-uncommissioned Channel 5 documentary unfolding in real time.
The Grand Hall was buzzing, packed with innumerable stands and stalls, an intermingling of veteran childcare brands and fresh-faced start-ups. Some stalls were selling totally new products or concepts, others the latest updates on long-standing child-rearing necessities.
The new products ranged from the innovative (baby clothes that you can rent!) to the deranged (I won’t name names, but there was an all-too-phallic bit of headgear that I believe should be kept away from not just all children but all respectable societies).
The big hitters were the products you’d likely expect: prams, breast pumps, nappies etc. Also, HelloFresh subscriptions. Who would have known?
Meanwhile, on a stage at the head of the hall, informative talks were taking place throughout the day covering a whole assortment of parenting subjects. We watched a talk on breastfeeding, a topic on which, for a single male in his twenties, I now know what could be described as a “creepy” amount about. We missed the talk on weaning but best believe next year I’ll be there in the front row.
The breastfeeding talk was by a woman named Clare Byam-Cook, who humble-bragged that if you simply typed her first name followed by the word “breastfeeding” into Google then her website is the top hit. I’m happy to take her word for this without testing its validity because, frankly, my targeted ads are already unnerving enough. She had us all in the palm of her hands and certainly knew her stuff. Though, if we’re being honest, trying to get me (dumb young man) to fully understand said topic is kind of like trying to get a porcupine to understand the difference between Asda and George or an Ugg boot to grasp the concept of spacetime.
After the talk, much like children anywhere from six months to seven years old, we were done with breastfeeding and moving on to food. By which I mean, we went to get some lunch.
After searching high and low but ultimately failing to find a soothingly corporate restaurant chain, we ended up dining at a sort of greasy spoon/Pan-Asian hybrid that I can’t imagine will catch on. I had a vegetarian katsu curry, which was 5/10, thanks for asking. Two of my colleagues opted for the salmon poke, served in the ecological riddle of a plastic bowl sat atop a ceramic plate, the low-stakes environmental equivalent of perfectly preserving the polar ice caps, but only so that they’re sufficiently sturdy for your seal clubbing trip with the lads next summer.
Back to the show and back to the babies. A very specific peloton of babies, in fact: Fake Plastic Babies. Like a Thom Yorke-penned Toys ‘R Us jingle. I feel like I should explain…
At the entrance to the Baby Show is what I would categorise as a sort of F1 track/obstacle course for buggies. There are ramps, various forms of terrain, sharp corners. It was all mightily enticing. Occupying the buggies that sat patiently in this pram paddock were the aforementioned fake plastic babies, each weighted, some teeny tiny, some ginormous. This, presumably, is so that those testing out the strollers can get the feel of how the pram will handle an actual living child. But also, you know, for those of us at the Baby Show with no parental stake in the game, it makes it way more fun.
“What’s the fastest time anyone’s gone round in so far?” I asked the woman running this Grand Prix for infants, with a level of steely exuberance that made clear I considered myself a budding Max Verstappen when it came to the wheeled baby carriage circuit. There was a stinted pause in which she took a long, calming exhale before gathering herself with a slight shake of the head and stating, quite crushingly, “That’s such a male thing to ask.” Sometimes you get the answer you deserve, not the one you want.
Anyhow, we took various prams for a spin around the track and it was fun. I used a stroller designed for two children, or “a double-child” as my Portuguese colleague referred to it. It’s not entirely clear if she was picturing a Stuck on You type scenario or some more Cronenbergian nightmare.
We each had our own fake plastic baby (their facial expressions ranging from the bog-standard demonically possessed to the Luciferic face of all evil to the Snoop Dogg-level spaced out) but didn’t name them for fear of getting too attached. Plus, taking a lesson from Squid Game, refusing them the humanity of a true name allowed us to be more cavalier with regards to their safety when it came to getting round the course, cutting precious seconds off our track time and thus bumping us up the hypothetical leader board, which is what the day was all about, really. (It’s possible I’m not ready for kids.)
Later in the afternoon, I won a free T-shirt by spinning a prize wheel. Though was disappointed to discover that those pesky T&Cs made clear that my free T-shirt was contingent on my first purchasing a stroller. The man running this prize wheel stand asked—understandably, given we were at the Baby Show—about my parenting situation. Things got uncomfortable.
There is a pause that comes after you look someone dead in the eyes at the Baby Show and tell them that you neither have kids, are expecting kids, or know anyone who does or is, that feels almost everlasting. The ultimate awkward silence that gives way to a sort of natural high that may be worth considering as a diluted alternative for any adrenaline-chasers reading this who can’t afford to throw themselves out of airplanes and don’t know where to source high-quality hallucinogens.
The Baby Show offered up many more delights throughout the day. We each became enamoured by a man’s spellbinding pram-folding demonstration. We tried out buggies that automatically help you go uphill and ease you downhill, which were very cool (and had the option of sporting gold-plated Pegasus wings on each side like they were beamed in from the CBeebies cut of a Flo Rida music video). We tried maternity tea (not bad) and Daal curry for toddlers (delicious). We saw someone from Love Island, which I’m told was exciting. And we went for a drink in a nearby pub after we were done.
We also did actual work and discovered a whole heap of trends currently taking the childcare market by storm. Again, if you want to read about them, here’s where to do it.
All in all, it was a very worthwhile day. And all I can really say is that if you and your childless peers also want to spend a day researching the changing landscape of the childcare industry then, oh baby, the Baby Show just might be the spot for you.