More than 400,000 babies are born in Texas annually. Preparing for first-time parenthood is met with many questions, concerns, and needs. From breastfeeding to diaper changing, even the simplest tasks can seem daunting as a new parent.

Miss Five Hills Emerald Bentley, a certified doula, hosts the inaugural Copperas Cove Baby Expo to put expecting parents, existing parents, and future parents at ease for the lifetime of experiences the future offers.

“My goal for the Cove Baby Expo was to gather all local resources, goods, and services available to parents and caregivers in one room for a day,” said Bentley who works with low- and no-income mothers to provide support during pregnancy, birth, and with their newborns.

Sponsored by Walmart, the event is free to the public and is scheduled on Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Copperas Cove Civic Center. The first 100 attendees can expect to walk away with a bag of samples, educational information, and even prizes from a vendor “bingo” raffle.

“The only other baby expo is hosted by Carl R. Darnell Army Medical Center on Fort Hood,” said Bentley, who is a military spouse. “But, I wanted to bring something special to our community that all parents and future parents could attend.”

Eventgoers can expect to visit booths from local homebased businesses offering handmade baby clothes, cloth diapers, custom onesies and t-shirts, and even lactation support cookies. Vendors such as pediatric dentists, doulas, midwives, chiropractors, infant music providers and professional photographers. Many local non-profit organizations supporting infant health such as WIC, Hope Pregnancy Center, La Leche League, and the Heart of Texas Baby Wearing Chapter will be at the event offering support including fit checks for parents to ensure they are using their baby carriers and car seats properly.

“One thing I am most excited for is the attendance of the Texas KidSafe Program,” said Bentley who has two children who use car seats on a daily basis. “They will be informing attendees where they can go locally to get their car seat installation checked.”

The Cove Baby Expo has gained recognition from national brands such as Halo Sleep Sack, Dr. Brown bottles, Solly Baby Wrap, and Preggie Pops from which attendees can receive sample items. Lullaby Pacifier, the invention of a local Copperas Cove resident, will also be publicly debuted at the expo In addition to the educational information, parents and parents-to-be can have some fun and win prizes in a baby crawling race, diaper toss, bottle chugging relay, and a “cutest baby” contest. Prizes for these events range from diapers and baby carriers to Raising Cane’s onesies.

Bentley says that the best part of the expo is that all the proceeds benefit the local non-profit, Grace for Mothers, which offers discounted and free birth/post-partum support for low-income women in the area.

“I am overwhelmed by the response of businesses and organizations eager to attend the Cove Baby Expo and share their passion for parenthood,” Bentley said. “It is a free event to the public. So, all parents and those planning to have children in the future should definitely attend.”

If you go:

What: Cove Baby Expo

When: Saturday, Feb. 29, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Where: Copperas Cove Civic Center, 1206 W. Ave. B, Copperas Cove

Why: provide resources and support to parents-to-be, future parents and existing parents

Cost: free to the public

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