Popular Web site speaks in Spanish about baby care, spawns TV show

Jeannette Kaplun and her friends in Miami couldn't find information in Spanish on trying to get pregnant, having a baby and being a parent.

The void - echoed by other young adults she encountered - inspired Kaplun to co-create TodoBebe.com, a hugely popular Web site that has evolved into a multimedia phenomenon including radio programs, newsletters, a network television show, partnerships with major retailers and baby fairs across the country.
The government has taken notice. The Department of Agriculture and the Office of the Surgeon General are partnering with TodoBebe, which means "everything baby," to provide health information to Hispanic families, including promotion of prenatal care and warnings about listeria, a food-borne bacteria that could hurt pregnancies.
"It's amazing what a huge community TodoBebe has become and how attached people feel to it," said Kaplun, who was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised in Chile. "The direct contact you have with people via the Web, I don't think you get it in any other medium."
TodoBebe.com, which started as a hobby for Kaplun six years ago, now receives 1 million page views per month in the United States and has a growing online club membership of 200,000.
The "TodoBebe Radio" show is broadcast on 16 radio stations in Latin America, and the 30-minute "TodoBebe" TV show airs in the United States and other countries every Saturday on the Telemundo network. (In Tucson, it airs at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays).
Kaplun, mother of a 2-year-old, co-hosts the television show and is editor in chief of the Web site.
The company has also forged a partnership with retail giant Wal-Mart, which has aired TodoBebe parenting tips on TV monitors in stores in Arizona, California, New Mexico, South Florida and Texas. In addition, TodoBebe fairs were held last year in Wal-Mart parking lots in Panorama City, Calif., Houston and Miami.
The Web site, which has about 1,000 articles, also includes chat rooms, reviews of baby product, question and answer segments with doctors, a photo gallery of babies and a calendar that calculates due dates. In another forum, created because of requests from viewers, people can sign up to pray for one another.
The Web site includes heavy fare such as defining in vitro fertilization and how to care for your children if you don't have health insurance, as well as lighter sections on quick baby-food recipes, decorating trends, celebrity parent interviews and how to choose your child's name.
Some things explored on TodoBebe have traditionally been taboo in Hispanic communities, such as miscarriage, sex during pregnancy and infertility.
"Among Hispanics, infertility is a huge issue, just as in the rest of the population - it affects roughly between 15 to 20 percent of Hispanics," Kaplun said. "It's a very difficult situation, especially because it's still not talked about heavily, so the Web site becomes a very good tool."
In addition, TodoBebe tries to dispel myths prevalent in Hispanic communities, such as the notion that you should give camomile tea to a 3-week-old to cure colic, which can actually make the problem worse, Kaplun said.
TodoBebe, based in Miami, has become a global enterprise. In addition to the radio and TV shows, the Web site has sections for various countries with local information about doctors, hospitals and shops.
Many topics come from common questions from patients, Kaplun said, such as when to feed a baby solid foods or when to start potty training.
The success of TodoBebe speaks to a growing market - Hispanic expectant parents and families. Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States, and their purchasing power has surged to nearly $700 billion, according to HispanTelligence market research.