Mommy Conventions- Worth It?
Recently I was able to attend two mommy conventions/expos- MommyCon in Washington DC and a smaller expo in Baltimore- Birth, Bellies and Babies. Two very different feels to them but both geared to new moms/expecting families. I was hoping that either would have something for the “hey you've had the baby, are already crunchy and kinda know what’s going on” demographic but I am still searching for that…
Overall I am quite disappointed with my MommyCon experience. There was, in my opinion, much false advertising and misleading by MommyCon. I want to end my MommyCon with a positive vibe- so pros at the end.
Cons of my MommyCon experience:
VIP Day: I did not feel special as a VIP. Yes we got a Beco carrier; but only 2 options is quite limiting. The “pampering” was a joke. You stood in line more than anything else, in a small, hot cramped room. The speaker fell through and we were mislead as to who would be speaking initially. The way the whole VIP day was handled was disappointing; I didn't even have a chance to get the email about extra VIP sessions before they were “sold out” which day of seeing 10 people in a gymnasium size room is just insulting. The overall way this was handled was also disheartening. MommyCon realized they screwed people but did nothing to compensate. No refunds, no extras, nothing. Very much the feeling of “we have your money and now we don't care”
Gift bag: I realize that events like MommyCon rely heavily on donations from companies and participating vendors. Big name sponsors provide most of this. My biggest complaint about the gift bags was that it does not go in line with MommyCon’s mission/focus. "Our focus is on natural and organic parenting methods and timeless tidbits as we journey through parenthood together. Our seminars and workshops include; babywearing, birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, car seat safety, natural health and medicine, baby gear, childproofing and so much more!" but you have non WHO Code compliant items in their goody bags- bottles. MommyCon “promote” natural mothering an cloth diapers and babywearing... Bottles are out of line in the bags. It is confusing.
Also misleading- the shirt in the gift bag- let your volunteers know they are maternity shirts. For VIP I was excited- yes! A unisex plain MommyCon shirt. Nope. A maternity workout shirt.
Vendors: the list of vendors was nowhere near who showed up. The space was poorly utilized and the aisles were tight. It seemed there was preferential spacing of vendor booths as well. Wrap/babywearing companies need more space around their booth (I understand that booth sizes are fee-based) so that consumers can try out the wraps. There was one aisle of the “vendors” that you could barely even walk down. A double stroller mom blocked the whole way. You must remember this is a family friendly event- parents are babywearing and that takes up a little more space.
There was no vendor map or list- that would have been nice to see who all was there.
Babywearing world record- a little unplanned and lackluster.
Communication: MommyCon’s communication is horrible. Leading up to, following and DURING the event. At VIP day there wasn't even an announcement to all the moms waiting in line for “pampering” that they were doing the walk to the White House for a photo.
Overall- highly disappointed. I was so excited for a natural parenting convention, large scale, in DC! This event would be great for the newly pregnant mom, or a mom with an itty bitty baby. For a mom who is into natural care or has a few kids- it is basically a shopping trip. I would potentially go to another MommyCon but I would not waste my money on VIP anything. I am disappointed with the amount of bottles and non WHO compliant items and vendors that were present as well. Confusing, misleading, insider, disappointing are the words I would use to sum up my thoughts on it all.
Now there were a few pros of my MommyCon experience: seeing friends I know (I am local to the DMV), visiting with wrap vendors. The staff of MommyCon was nice to interact with. I do love my black Birth, Breastfeed, Babywear tshirt and the accompanying Milk, Milk, Milk shirt I got. Would I do it again- maybe.
Birth, Bellies and Babies Expo
This was a smaller expo in Baltimore I attended. The cost was free (just had to pay parking in Baltimore) and included a gift bag. I am friends with one of the speakers/vendors and I was curious to go check it out- and free works for me!
Birth, Bellies and Babies invites you to “Enjoy a fun day of education, shopping and discovery, focusing on various aspects of fertility, pregnancy and early parenting. Workshops and demonstrations, dozens of amazing local vendors, and great raffle prizes. Learn about infant massage, fertility options, alternative birthing choices and support, nutrition for mom and baby, breastfeeding support, mommy-and-baby yoga and so much more! Please come see how your family can be sustained and supported during these early child-rearing years.”
The line up of speakers was much more geared toward natural parenting- and the focus was on the workshops. Still geared mostly to new or expectant moms there were a couple of workshops I was interested in attending. Sadly the one I most wanted to go to, put on by my friend, was later in the day and no one else showed. The vendor area was small and focused mostly on birth services, some postpartum services and of course some things for sale/purchase.
We made it in to the expo in the afternoon but it was still a nice flow of people. You were greeted with your gift bag- pamphlets and fliers and a snack to include granola and an apple. You then got to have your picture taken at the photo booth and received an electronic and paper copy. The church allowed for a quiet setting and the separation between workshop spaces and vendors I found to be nice. All of this was of course a much smaller scale than MommyCon but I kind of preferred that. There were nice, healthy food options for sale by a local company as well. You were not going to go hungry here!
Overall Birth, Bellies and Babies was a nice local expo that I would recommend to local expectant or new mamas.