BY TOBY PORTER
Baby talk can rot the brain. Any parent will tell you that too much “goo-goo-ga-ga” and “mama – dada” can reduce a parent’s vocabulary and, if taken in long doses, turn the brain to mush.
But there is a solution – which does not involve dumping your baby in front of the Teletubbies.
Babble Talks, whose motto is “Reclaim your brain – Bring your baby”, stages lectures by big-brained specialists on subjects like astrophysics and neglected feminist writers, with babies allowed.
There has also been one on the laws of romantic attraction – the very thing that got them in this bind in the first place.
Parents deprived of sleep and polysyllables have been crowding daytime venues to hear about what will happen when computers are smarter than people, or whether whisky can save the wildcat.
It has even given them something to talk to each other about, other than nappies, teething, napping,walking and the colour of poo.
The series was started with a single event in Tooting’s Wheatsheaf pub in March 2018 by Ruth Bennett and her husband, Ian, from Streatham, when their own son, Julian, was just three months old.
It now stages regular hour-long talk events, usually followed by a question-and-answer, in five different venues. And there’s soft flooring.
Another feature is the true and false factual quiz at the end – or rather “true or poo” in this instance.
More than 1,000 parents have listened to 25 talks across three London venues since it was created.
They have also been asked to host similar talks in Leeds, Winchester and Cardiff.
Ruth has now earned a place in the final line-up of The Mpower National Business Awards – an award ceremony celebrating parents throughout the UK who manage the difficult task of juggling business with family life.
Hers is the only London-based business to be shortlisted for the Rising Star category.
The 36-year-old, who worked in children’s book publishing, said: “I’m thrilled to have made the shortlist.
Starting a new business involves tons of hard work, not to mention the challenges of juggling it with becoming a parent, so for this to be recognised by the Mpower National Business Awards is really wonderful.
“I have always been busy doing lots of different things, but nothing prepares you for being tied to the sofa when you become a parent. “I was surprised that my brain did not stop whirring, even when I was really tired.
“I felt like I was having interactions with really interesting people, but we did not know how to start a conversation about anything other than our babies.
I like science stuff, because I know nothing about it. “So much goes on in London, but in the evenings. People assume new parents sit around having coffee but if you are going through life-changing events, you do not do that. This is something to do while also enjoying parenting.
“Our speakers are usually miked up so can talk through a noisy baby – but there is not as much racket as you would expect in a room full of toddlers. They like watching the slides.”
The winners will be announced tomorrow at the VOX Conference Centre in Birmingham.
Nicola Huelin, multi-award winning business coach, founder of the Mpower awards, and mum to four children with her partner Graham, said: “We are so proud of all these women who are changing the business landscape, while raising and inspiring the generations of the future.
“We believe their efforts and successes in overcoming the unique challenges of combining business and motherhood, particularly in those first few years when it’s the hardest, deserve to be recognised and celebrated.”