With a borough in need of parenting tips, the concerns of Brooklyn’s expectant parents caught the attention of North Brooklyn group Town Square, a volunteer-based community group.
Their solution? The first ever Brooklyn BabyFEST.
On April 27, John Ericsson Middle School 126, located at 424 Leonard St., will be transformed into a baby expo and trade show bringing together experts and retailers geared toward expectant and first-time parents with children up to age three.
“It’s a coming of age for the community, perhaps because of the artists and musicians over the last five to 10 years now becoming young moms and dads,” said Susan Anderson, chairperson at Town Square. “I think a lot of parents who are looking at whether or not to move here have decided to come to North Brooklyn because of our school system, especially at the elementary school level.”
New mothers and fathers are invited to hear from a long list of speakers and join in seminars targeted at new dads, traveling with babies, first time home buying with a family, sleep habits or green diaper service, to name a few.
BabyFEST demos will include clinics on baby wearing, a baby massage workshop, post-pregnancy exercise classes and a rock-and-roll show by Frolic! to inspire music appreciation.
“To offer this one-day event where parents can come, learn about new products, learn about what’s available to them in the neighborhood and then also meet other parents and create these relationships to walk away with is invaluable,” Anderson said.
Town Square plans to set up around 40 tables in space provided by the school and utilize a number of classrooms for seminars.
“When you get pregnant you have almost this sort of compulsion to talk to each other,” said Jessica Morrow-Glorieux, co-producer of Brooklyn BabyFEST and the co-founder of Motherbug, a parenting blog that offers resources and tips to new parents.
“I think like most parents, you get bombarded with experts and conflicting information, so this gives you an opportunity to sit with a parenting expert and ask a specific question that maybe you’ve read on and couldn’t find any answer,” she added.
One benefit, secondary to the initial design of organizing BabyFEST as an informational session for new parents, is the networking of like-minded parents in the neighborhood.
“New parents are online, they’re connected, they network with each other, they can join a group and make friends,” said Morrow-Glorieux, but “this is a great opportunity for you to meet as a group with your friends.”
Joyce Szufilta, developer of NYC School Help program to educate Brooklyn parents about the public and private school system, will be one of many speakers at the event.
“The fact that you most often apply for preschool the fall before your child is to attend is often overlooked,” Szufilta said. “You have to be thinking about it a year before you attend.”
Her session will focus on getting new parents thinking about pre-school and how to choose a daycare.
“There’s so many different places you can go for all this information, and it is a daunting task to look all of this up,” Szufilta said. “This is really a time saver and a nice community gathering.”