First Princeton Natural Parenting Fair

When Jamie Quirk had her first daughter five years ago, the resources for an “alternative” path were limited. Quirk was forced to educate herself by word of mouth – tracking down professionals and health-care providers who she’d only heard could advise her on how to approach things such as teething, breastfeeding, potty training or childcare.

“I would have loved to go to an event with two dozen ideas in one place instead of calling and emailing sources – questioning if there was something more natural that may have been a better fit for my style of parenting,” said Quirk, one of the organizers for the first Princeton Natural Parenting Fair and communications and marketing director for the Waldorf School of Princeton.

When the newly formed group, Princeton Area Birth and Family Professionals, sought to bring together local vendors and speakers to provide the very information Quirk had searched for, it seemed like a perfect fit for the Waldorf School of Princeton to partner with them. According to Quirk, the event is not explicitly Waldorf, however, the natural perspective on child care is cohesive with the Waldorf philosophy.

“There will be a talk given by a Waldorf teacher about educating your child at home,” Quirk said. “A lot of parents interested in homeschooling will find this helpful, along with many parents who aim to supplement their child’s education, wherever they attend, by supporting development at home.”

Throughout the three-hour event geared toward parents with newborns and kids into early elementary school, there will be a puppet show for little ones, a simple craft for children and a meditation group for mommies and their babies. Rachel Ullman – one of the founders of Princeton Area Birth and Family Professionals and owner of Quirky Baby Slings and Carriers – will also do demos with various carriers and speak about the significance of skin-to-skin contact.

In the marketplace, there will be about 30 local vendors sharing their knowledge about everything from childcare, midwifery, essential oils, sleep consulting and solutions, natural toys, teething rings and chiropractics.

“There were businesses who responded who I had never even heard of, even though I am the target market living in Princeton with two daughters under the age of 5. There are people in this area who don’t have the means to advertise their business the way a mainstream health group or corporation can, and families who may have not thought they could afford this way of natural childcare,” Quirk said. “I am coming out to the fair to be able to tap into all these resources I would have never known about otherwise. We are hoping others will get the same out of this.”

Quirk and her fellow organizers hope the Princeton Natural Parenting Fair, which is free to attend, will become an annual event. They encourage families to bring along a picnic and enjoy the 20 acres of Waldorf property that boasts ample lawn space, a garden, picnic tables and at least four playgrounds.

For nursing mothers, Waldorf will turn one of its preschool classrooms into the “Nursing Nest,” a cozy, private area away from the activities with plenty pillows, rocking chairs, a changing table, fresh water and snacks. There will also be a representative from La Leche League and the Princeton Area Birth and Family Professionals group to discuss anything and everything with breastfeeding mothers.

“I want these kinds of conversations to happen,” Quirk said excitedly. “I want people to show up, share personal experiences and talk to each other – a magnet for like-minded families. I hope there will be someone there that can help you along your path, even to just connect with other moms and dads.”


About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida