A published article of me taking my Toddler to China in 2012 found in the Winter issue of Island Parent Edited here: http://bit.ly/1g8jgBw on page 22. Or you can read it here:
“Once you relax, your baby will relax,” the stranger said after I asked him if he had heard my baby during the night, as his hostel room was beside ours in Beijing. We had just arrived the day before and Raphael,15 months at that time, was having a hard time adjusting. It was our first time out of Canada with him. I nodded in response and then asked the man about his trip. He started to mention his hectic journey to the great wall when another traveler popped open her door to interrupt him with a question. I stood listening to them talk for a few minutes, feeling awkward, I knew I was not a part of the conversation any more. I remembered what it was like being that type of traveler: visiting tourist attractions and seeing as much as one can see. Now as a parent traveling I have learned it’s not about collecting museum exhibit maps but to enjoy the moment while living in a different country. China is a fascinating place. A country that has camera’s everywhere and whenever you enter a subway station you have to put your bags through an x-ray machine with bored guards standing watch. A country that is always under construction with newly planted trees on old sidewalks propped up by posts and fed plant food intravenously. A country with the oil rigs haphazardly placed within beautiful Buddhist monastery grounds with dirt and bricks piled beside them. A country with people like the Buddhist nun who offered an apple to Raphael, who then held the apple up to his Mommy with the most beautiful smile I had seen on his face for a long time.
When I was lying beside Raphael in the dark hostel room just after putting him to sleep I reminded myself of what the stranger said and laughed to myself for it was such a simple statement– one I have learned over and over again. So I stood up and began to do some yoga beside our hard bed in the little space left in the room due to all of the baggage we had brought with us. I felt such peace listening to our sound machine humming and Raphael breathing. For a moment I thought that I wanted to be outside with my husband and brother-in-law as they drank 85 cent beer. I then asked myself “What is the most important thing for me to be doing at this time?” I answered right away, “Be with my baby.” From that moment on I realized I need to ask myself that question all of the time. “What is the most important thing for me to be doing at this time?” I was not on a trip to visit the sites but to enjoy the moment to moment life in China. Just being there with my family.
Before going on the trip I was nervous about breastfeeding in public in China as I thought I would have to stay in hotel rooms all of the time. A few days before the trip I was downtown Victoria with him and he wanted to feed. I held him close and started to feed when a guy I knew through networking walked into the restaurant. I tried not to make eye contact but I failed and he came over to say hi while I was feeding Raphael. As Raphael came off there was a little flash of my boob to the guy as I quickly covered up. I then realized I was not embarrassed. If I can handle flashing an almost stranger I knew I didn’t need to worry about a whole country of strangers. So on the trip when Raphael wanted the boob I gave it to him, as quietly as I could not wanting to make it a big show. During my 20 day trip I saw only one other woman breastfeeding on the subway train and I felt such a bond with her in that moment.
I was nervous about going away with Raphael not just because of the breastfeeding. As I am home with him most of the time I was concerned that I will not get to enjoy the trip as much as my husband. I thought I would have to be in charge of taking care of Raphael the whole time, with no real break. The first four days Raphael was very clingy. We stayed at a quiet hostel that had a beautiful outside courtyard where he could run around and he started to feel more comfortable there. On the fourth day Chris, my husband,said he and his brother would take Raphael to the forbidden city so I could go shopping with my sister-in-law. We ended up staying out past Raphael’s bedtime and Chris had gone to bed with him. In the middle of my night out I got nervous about being away so I asked myself, “What is the most important thing for me to be doing at this time?” and I answered “ Be out on my own”. At that moment I knew that I didn’t need to worry about the rest of the trip. I gave up control of looking after Raphael, which allowed him to spend time with his Dad and his uncle. Finding relaxation in every moment was easy if I just let go and let it happen. Best of all, I also realized I can apply what I learned into my daily life.
What to take with you:
sound machine (or mp3player that has calming music)
baby food ( I brought earth best organics apple and pear sauce, as well as smoothy mix from Vega the green blend which I mixed with juices and shared with Raphael so that we would both have proper vitamins and protein. Even though we both ate the chinese food as well this was to support us)
more baby Tylenol or Advil than you think you need (we only took 2 bottles for 20 days, he was teething, enough said)
first aid general stuff
hand sanitizer (as you will have to wipe your baby’s hands ever 5 secs as they like to touch everything)
What you don’t really need to take:
a tonne of toys or books as baby will be fascinated by anything (our camera was a great toy to watch being turned on and off again or his uncle’s watch)
lots of diapers (unless going to rural area) as the big cities have diapers, unless you want to use environmentally friendly ones.
How many bags can you take?
This also depends on airline so you will need to check. We took 2 carry ons, 1 pillow, 3 checked bags and a baby carrier (checked). It was a lot of stuff to take, but we knew we had 2 other adults to help us carry it when we arrived. And one of the checked bag was full of things they missed from canada.
How much does it cost to take a baby on flight?
Baby will sit on your lap up until 2 years old and the flight cost is taxes and other tariffs from. In the end it was about 40-50% of our adult fares.
a pillow, which is very helpful for within flights and during long bus rides especially if you are still breast feeding.
You will need to get a travelling visa, which allows you to go to china for 90 days. It is best to get the visa a month before you go. You will need to get a visa for everyone going, so we had 3 visa’s.
There is an embassy in Vancouver as well as your travel center will be able to suggest a place. Look for the best deal. We went to a travel center that a friend from China had suggested which was located in Victoria china town. It is always best to go somewhere that is recommended not just from the internet as there are many website china visa scams.
Baby has to have all of his/her vaccination shots up to one year before a travelling doctor will give them any shots that might be needed if you are going to do vaccinations. We went to http://www.shelbournetravelandpreventivehealthclinic.com/ and the doctor was very informative and friendly. But there are a few travel centers in town. You have to pay for the traveling shots out of your own pocket as most insurance will not cover it.