Yesterday we went to the So Natural Baby Festival in Oxford. I found out about it a while ago and it promised lots of lovely baby products, the opportunity to try slings, cloth nappies, plus some workshops, such as BabyCalm, which sounded pretty interesting. The event was free so I thought it was definitely worth going along, I have been after a new woven wrap or woven ring sling but wanted to try them first, and we were also desperate for some new nappies.
The event was held at Oxford Town Hall which was a lovely old building, but a few parents had to struggle up the stairs with buggy’s to get to the room where the festival was being held, not ideal. We arrived at the start (10.30am) but they were running late, so we had to stand and wait for 15 minutes, which I didn’t mind too much but Poppy disapproved and by the time we did get in she needed a feed. Unfortunately when I asked if there was a place where I could feed her I ended up being given a chair that was by the entrance, which I sat on in full view of everyone passing. It didn’t bother me but I did think it should have been considered….natural baby festival = breastfeeding mums, and not everyone is comfortable doing this in such an open space. I would like to say that was the last of my complaints, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. After feeding she needed changing, and I was directed to the disabled toilet where I was told I could change Poppy, and the sign next to it said ‘Baby Changing.’ You can imagine my confusion then when I went in and couldn’t see changing facilities anywhere. For a good few minutes I thought I was going barmy and checked all the walls for those fold up changing tray things. Then I went back out to check the sign, maybe I was in the wrong disable toilet?! Nope. Poppy had to lie on the cold hard toilet floor whilst I changed her (It had just been cleaned otherwise I would have just done it inside the festival). It was such a shame that the venue was very beautiful but obviously not right for this event. The organisers really should have provided some sort of alternative changing facilities, just some soft mats for the floor maybe?!
Anyway, we were finally ready to look around! I really didn’t want this post to be all moaning….but….whilst we loved being bombarded with free samples, being the stereotypical natural parent, we had Poppy in the carrier and no buggy to pile our belongings onto. We hadn’t considered that we should take our own bags for anything we bought! Tim went to about 8 stalls before finding one that had bags and kindly gave us one so that we weren’t juggling our samples, leaflets and purchases as well as a baby and a changing bag. This was really inconvenient, but moving on….
The good stuff: One of the first stalls I came across was the Wonderoos cloth nappy stall. Now I can’t tell you much about the Wonderoos brand itself, as I really needed a bargain (these are in line with other cloth nappies though and were lovely bright colours!) Instead the bargain bucket caught my eye and I managed to find some Close Pop-in nappies for £5 each! There were loads of other bargains to be had but I wanted all natural liners (no microfleece touching Poppy’s skin, which is very common in pocket nappies) The Pop-in’s have bamboo inserts which ‘pop’ in place! They are the older version, and if I were being picky I would choose organic (the inserts are dyed to match the colour of the rest of the nappy which is beyond me!), but they looked really good quality and at such a good price I couldn’t resist. I am hoping that I can also use the outer cover as a wrap with some of our cotton inserts (they wouldn’t pop in to place) so that we can use the outer part more than once.
For that reason I only bought 3 to see how we get on, but I already love them, they fit Poppy really well. They adjust as they grow, and they are very snug so I don’t expect any leaks. In fact I tried the green one on her last night and she liked it so much she started crawling for the first time!!! (This huge milestone will be getting it’s very own blog post soon!)
The same stall also had some gorgeous Frugi items on sale, at really good prices. We grabbed an all in one for £7.50 (organic cotton, spotty with ladybirds).
We wandered around and saw loads of natural baby lotions, nappy balms, oils…whilst they were all lovely and I could have spent a fortune, we make do with coconut oil, essential oils and a couple of organic bargains from TK Maxx! Don’t get me wrong, it was all beautiful and if I had the money we would have every natural baby product under the sun, but it isn’t really a necessity, it’s a luxury. Some of them were tempting, such as a calming spritz from http://www.soothe-me.com to use at bedtime, but I just about managed to resist. Still, I will enjoy using the samples we acquired!
One stall I did quite like was Antique Apothecary, set up by Greek sisters Elena and Maria. What I was hoping for from the festival was finding something new, that made me think ‘That would be really useful!’, rather than just variations of things I already use. They did have the usual baby nappy balms and oils, but what caught my eye was the cold relief balm. In my never ending quest for optimal health and natural immunity, I have ditched the medicine cabinet and started learning about essential oils, herbs and other natural remedies. When your little one is all bunged up, it is nice to feel there is something you can do to help, but the last thing you want to do is starting dosing them up on conventional medicines. The cold relief balm contains 100% pure essential oils and can be rubbed into baby’s chest or back, or dabbed under the nose. I have a tester pot to try and it does have a very slight Vicks type smell to it, but of course it is much gentler and feels lovely on the skin. I was also interested in their tea’s and balms for adults. Lately I have had a really achey back, probably due to carrying Poppy so much and the funny positions I seem to sleep in, so I was interest in their herbal tea that claimed to help joints and their pain relief balm for muscles. Although I didn’t buy anything from them yesterday I will definitely be having a look at their website http://www.herbsandnaturalrememdies.org. More of their products include anti-cellulite oil, anti-wrinkle cream and moisturising cream. I also liked the fact that they gave us some fennel tea to try, although Tim wasn’t a fan!
We had another feeding break because Poppy was fussy and found some chairs at the back of the room where some babies and toddlers were enjoying a sensory session. I picked up a leaflet for a free taster session, you can look at http://www.babysensory.com to find your nearest class.
We soon came to the bag lady, who is better known for her beautifully soft bamboo baby clothes. Zubu baby have a range of hats, booties, body suits and all in ones. They are 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton. I love bamboo, it is what our Hana baby wrap is made from and it is super soft and breathable. We bought this for Poppy at the bargain price of £8 (usually £16), she had pink, but I preferred blue. All of the clothes were luxuriously soft, perfect against baby’s skin, and came in this lovely design, green or plain natural cotton.
As for the slings and carriers, I was pretty disappointed. The gorgeous Oscha slings were there, but unfortunately these are out of our budget and they didn’t seem to have any special event offers on they day. I was hoping it would be more inviting to try some slings on, someone passionately demonstrating how to use them, rallying people to have a go, but instead I found that each time I tried to have a good look, someone was in the way, so I gave up in the end. This lack of enthusiasm and interactivity was a let down of the whole festival. It was really less of a festival and more a browsing shopping event. A person on a microphone talking about what was going on, shouting about good deals, talking with genuine passion about the benefits of natural products…or something like that, would have given the whole thing a bit more atmosphere. We didn’t make it to any of the workshops because these were held in a different room, we weren’t given a programme and there was little communication about what was happening. Someone did half heartedly tell us that someone was discussing health in the room next door, but by this point we were about to leave.
As promised, we were given a free goody bag for being one of the first to arrive, so I rifled through this on the way home. The best thing in it was some Gin-Gin’s sweets, made with real ginger and available at health food stores. I had never heard of them before and they were so good!
We also managed to acquire 3 back copies of Juno magazine, and I purchased the latest copy because it had a big article about home education. It is a great magazine and there are 4 issues a year. They did have 10% discount on subscription, but seeing as the magazine is £3.95 per copy, or £15 for a year, it isn’t a big cost anyway so the 10% off didn’t manage to tempt me. I already subscribe to green parent, so I didn’t really want another subscription for now but would consider it in the future. You can subscribe at http://www.junomagazine.com/ or like their facebook page for offers. (If anyone has the latest copy I would love to hear what you think about the brave lady who ran away from mainstream cancer treatment for her son?)
All in all we had a great day, mainly because it was nice to get out and do something different, but the festival itself didn’t live up to expectations. I think I have reached a stage where I am no longer a novice at all this natural malarky…I felt like I out crunched the So Natural festival!!! They had some memory foam play mats and I cringed at the thought of all the chemicals in memory foam and letting your baby play on that! I am happy we went purely for the nappies and it is always good to broaden your knowledge of natural and ethical companies. I haven’t been able to mention all of the exhibitors on here, but there were some more lovely items, such as hand knitted merino clothing and hand made children’s quilts. More information can be found on the festival website, http://www.sonaturalbaby.com/event/so-natural-baby-festival-oxford/ If you are interested in going to the festival they will be in Bath on 22nd June 2014. If you were there yesterday let me know what you thought!