A Visit to the Natural and Holistic Baby Expo in Long Beach

By Sabine Thier — September 29, 2014


imageAs a first time mom who has three months left until her daughter is due, I had many moments when I felt overwhelmed trying to figure out what I need to get before my baby’s arrival.

The task of building my registry seemed daunting. The numerous times I entered the baby sections of various large stores, I left quickly feeling confused by the large variety of items.

Speaking to mom friends and scouring the Internet made me realize there are so many different opinions and approaches out there, and I will have to find my own personal way of tackling first-time motherhood based on my own needs, lifestyle choices, and beliefs.

During my venture of deciding which baby items to put on my registry, I came across the Natural and Holistic Baby Expo (NAHBE) that took place in Long Beach, California, on September 20, 2014.

What especially piqued my interest about this expo were the advertised Baby Wearing Learning Center and the keynote speech by Harvey Karp, author of the book Happiest Baby on the Block.

Eager to learn more about caring for my soon-to-arrive baby, I hit the road and drove to Long Beach to attend the expo with the hopes of finding solutions to some of my registry conundrums.

The expo took place in the Renaissance Hotel and I was immediately greeted by an upbeat and lively hustle and bustle of a crowd mostly consisting of pregnant women and couples toting around their adorable offspring.

The showrooms were filled with vendor stands that catered to the various needs of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be. From doula and midwife services to cloth diapering, mama massages, organic food, breastfeeding consultation and placenta encapsulation services – all bases of pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood were covered by local vendors that offered friendly information and gave attendees the chance to win prices in a variety of raffles.

imageMy first stop was the Baby Wearing Learning Center. I always knew that I wanted to wear my baby for the first year as I think it is a great bonding experience, and I think it is a good way of keeping your hands free while the baby is with you at all times.

But when I started to research baby carriers, I found that there are a very large variety of carriers and even more opinions about each and every one of them. It is very hard to form a personal opinion based on reading reviews and studying online descriptions.

The Baby Wearing Learning Center consisted of two large tables that featured virtually every baby carrier that I had read about and then some. A friendly lady from Babywearing LA quickly approached me and was eager to show me baby carriers that would fit my needs.

She put a number of carriers on me including the eight-pound baby doll to give me a real feeling for wearing a tiny human being on my body. This was an eye opening experience that quickly clarified which baby carriers would work best for my husband and me.

I walked away from the Baby Wearing Learning Center being very happy that my confusing search for the right baby carrier had finally come to an end.

My next stop was the speaker’s hall where Alicia Silverstone and author Harvey Karp were scheduled to deliver their speeches.

Alicia Silverstone’s speech was mainly a sales pitch for her new book called “The Kind Mama.” In the 30 minutes she spoke, Alicia Silverstone basically told us the different topics that are featured in her book, without actually providing a lot of concrete tips or information about pregnancy and motherhood.

Harvey Karp’s speech, on the other hand, was very informative. Harvey Karp is a pediatrician and his book “Happiest Baby on the Block” is considered one of the most important parenting books of the decade. He also offers parents of slightly older kids valuable advice with his second book called “The Happiest Toddler on the Block.”

Dr. Karp has found an “off switch, ” a calming reflex, which can soothe a seemingly imageinconsolable baby within a few minutes just by using five techniques. The techniques are called the “5 S’s” – swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking.

Dr. Karp believes that human babies are born three months prematurely and that babies are missing the fourth trimester. The techniques that trigger the calming reflex imitate the feeling, movements, and sounds that a baby experienced in its mother’s womb.

Dr. Karp opened his speech fairly informally in Q & A style. After interacting with his audience, he transitioned into his speech in which he presented his views and techniques of handling crying and unhappy newborn babies. Dr. Karp then moved on to explaining his recommendations of dealing with toddlers and how to end or even prevent their tantrums.

Dr. Karp was a very engaging, informative, and witty speaker. A quote that stuck with me was: “Have an open mind, but don’t let your brain fall out.” I was drawn to his balanced approach – despite his formal medical training, Dr. Karp promotes a natural approach that does not involve too much medication. I felt like this viewpoint was a fresh breath in a seemingly polarized world where the scientific and natural sides seem to constantly battle each other.

Dr. Karp’s speech ended with another Q & A session and the large amount of questions he received showed that his speech resonated with expectant and new parents, and I soaked up all the valuable pieces of wisdom and advice that he provided during his time on the podium.

Overall, the Natural and Holistic Baby Expo provided a clueless mom-to-be like me imagewith a lot of opportunities to increase my knowledge in fun and interactive ways. The atmosphere was friendly and non-intimidating, and I walked away from the event armed with a lot of useful information (and a cool goodie bag) that will help me on my journey into motherhood.

Courtesy Images Sabine Thier

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