Are you having a baby? Do you want to travel the world and have your family by your side to experience the mind-opening wonders of a foreign land? Then moving to teach English in China could be the most rewarding decision you ever make! Here are 5 things to consider when bringing a baby or having a baby in Shanghai.
Nothing is more important than location, when arriving in Shanghai with a newborn. You want to be central to so many places that it can be quite overwhelming at times. When you consider work, grocery stores, hospitals, and activities for the family; it can really narrow down the areas that you want to call home. Of course it won't be easy to find that perfect location and be prepared to make some compromises. If you're like me, then you won't mind a longer commute to make sure your family has easy access to the activities that they will enjoy most. Check out Jingan, Changning, and the Former French Concession all three are great areas for you and your family.
Although China has a massive public transit system, traversing the rails can be a pain with your clunky American stroller. Prepare for a longer trip as searching for elevators will become your new routine. Invest in a baby carrier to make traveling a breeze and consider a smaller style stroller for those times when the elevator is elusive and the stairs are your only option. The great thing about China is people are always willing to help you, even when there is a language barrier.
The length of your stay will weigh heavily on many areas of your everyday life. If you're just here for a year, you can focus on maximizing your family's experiences and minimizing on the normal nesting that is common with a newborn. If the plan is to stay for an extended period, all of your normal needs can be met and typically at a better price. Make sure to keep an open mind as you plan your move abroad. When you spend an extended time living in a different environment, you become more appreciative of your experiences and the time you have with your loved ones.
There are so many myths about Healthcare in China with vaccinations scares and inadequate facilities that are a possibility no matter where you live. Shanghai has some of the best hospitals and most advance medical treatments available today. They're even a leader in holistic medicine. If you are worried about these issues with your newborn, let your mind rest as there are international hospitals with American and European doctors available. My daughter has received great personalized healthcare at Shanghai United Family Hospital and I would definitely recommend them if you're in the Changning or Pudong District.
One of the most surprising things about living in China is how diverse your community will become with time. The Expat community is already a tight-knit group and we all share the same experiences upon arrival. When you have a baby in China, making sure to socialize is a key part of your baby's development. The internet is a great resource for families to find and build a local community to share in all the wonders of Shanghai. Check out SmartShanghai or Shanghaimamas to help build your community. There are also plenty of play centers and day programs designed for your child's socialization and development. The interesting thing with having a newborn in Shanghai is you will have plenty of curious moms and grandmothers wanting to stop you and check out your baby. There is no translation needed when you see all the smiles.