Chinese Family Life,  Raising a child in China

12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of raising a child in China

Carrying a baby is a necessity in China
Carrying a baby is a necessity in China

1 The whole village wants to parents your kid. You get lots of parenting advice every time you dare to leave the door with your precious baby. She should wear more clothes! Where are her socks? She must be hungry! Everyone wants to lend their best piece of advice for free.

2 You become the center of attention. Like being a white foreigner wasnt enough, now I get even more attention when I go out with our daughter as Chinese think mixed kids are the cutest and want to drown her in pleasant small talk. They usually mention her big eyes and white skin, or how cute and chubby she looks.

3 Formula companies are winning in China. Unfortunately the baby milk formula companies are doing such a great job in lobbying their products and making money, that they make Chinese women insecure with breastfeeding. Relatives give cans of formula as a gift for new mother, expecting that they need it. Along this comes the scams related to milk powder, making Chinese purchasing formula abroad for big bucks.

4 Too many cooks spoils the soup definitely fits the Chinese way of parenting where a baby has parents and grandparents going circles around him. If they all share common views on child raising, great, but more often than not, four people means four different ways of raising a child. My parents-in-law took their grandson (our daughter’s cousin) for a haircut in secret because their daughter and the mother of the son, had refused it.

5 Everyone is willing to help you. No matter where I go with a baby, other people jump of from their seats on public transport to give us a seat. Restaurant staff will entertain babies and toddlers while you eat your lunch. Once I even had a customer sitting next to me playing with Anna while I was eating out alone with her. Chinese people love babies and are really willing to help!

6 Baby carrier like Manduca or Ergo is a life savior in China. Many Chinese cities aren’t built for strollers or prams, making it difficult to go around with a baby, unless you have a nice baby carrier and then you are free to explore everywhere! My Manduca carrier is one of the best, if not the best, baby product I got this year and I can’t imagine how I could have managed the baby year without it.

7 The belly button is an open port for illness to enter the body. No matter hot or cold, the Chinese want to keep the baby’s belly button covered so they won’t catch a cold. When ever I was changing diapers, my mother-in-law would remind me to cover the belly with a small towel.

8 Shopping craziness starts with a baby. For many mothers, Chinese mothers too, it’s a transition time in shopping habits when a baby is about to be born. In China online shopping and Taobao makes it super easy to buy anything you need, fast and easy, which makes for many unnecessary purchases. My sister-in-law is a prime example of a shopaholic mom who isn’t afraid on spending money on her son.

9 Educational companies are making big bucks with courses for babies. Speaking of spending, parents are the most likely to spend money and it’s all for the best of their kids. Educational companies have noticed this and are offering a variety of courses starting from as small as 6 months. International or “international” day cares are doing good business in China at the moment and monthly fees can go to 7000rmb per month or higher!

10 Cantonese babies bathe daily. Here in the south it’s hot most of the year so it’s quite natural that everyone bathes or showers daily. But during our baby’s  first Winter I was following the Finnish custom of giving a bath just a few times per week. My Chinese family thought it was really weird not to give her daily baths! After she started eating solids at 6 months she started daily showers too as it was, and is, way too messy!

11 A sick baby is rushed to a hospital right away. No matter if it’s just a little fever or a running nose, Chinese parents or grand parents often rush the precious kids to a hospital for remedies. As the weather is changing, Anna is having a running nose and our nanny is really worried already and bundling her up in layers of clothing. I bet if grand parents were taking care of her they would have been to the hospital already!

12 A baby is the center of your life. This I totally agree with the Chinese though out methods are different, after you become a parents your baby is the center of your life. No matter which culture, we all want whats best for them and use the best of our abilities to provide them a happy and healthy life.


  • Jessica Wang

    Hi! I’m excited to have found your blog! :) I’m half-Finnish, my husband’s from Chengdu, and we now have two children in Beijing: a 2 year old and a 5 month old! I’ve also blogged a little about family life and written about pregnancy in China. I hope we can be friends :3


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Hi Jessica, really nice to get your comment! I need to check your blog too :)


  • Carina Anna Jokela

    Hei Sara,
    I’ve been following your blog for a few years now, it’s great to see how your studies, work and family have all developed.
    As my family (and soon-to-be-born baby) are also Sino-Finnish, I’ve been interested in how you’ve managed issues like birth, ayi, language, relations with in-laws. I often quote your experiences and opinions to my Shanghainese husband, “Sara from Guangzhou said…”. Sometimes he even asks “What did Sara do about this?” :D
    It feels like you’re a part of our family, even though we’ve never met :)

    I wish the best for little Anna, good luck and sisua on your return to work,
    Anna J


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Hi Anna! Congratulations on the new baby, exciting time for your family! I’m honored to be quoted like that, just remember I’m no authority on hacking China ;) Even though I do try my best!


  • Caroline

    Hi Sara,

    I’ve read your interesting life-story on your blog for some years together with my husband. I am from Switzerland and my husband is Chinese (Hong Kong). We now have a 4 month old daughter and are looking how to introduce solid foods when she gets to 6 months. I am really not in favour of all those ‘Westernised’ tips of what food to give her. We eat ourselves a lot of rice and Chinese style food but my main concern is what to give our daughter. How was this for you? I cook rice gruel (congee) and wonder if that’s a good start. And since my husband is lactose intolerant I wonder how this might affect my daughter. I guess you had a lot of tips from your family, friends and everyone else who offered their advice. I’m curious to learn what your experience was.



    admin Reply:

    Hi Caroline! I did baby led learning BLW with our daughter so she was eating the same as we did, just without salt or other things not suitable her age. I read the BLW book which had a lot of useful information, no matter what kind of diet your family has.


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