Baby-friendly cities: A mother shares her experiences
Created by Brinda Rao Iyer Updated on Mar 06, 2017
We were living in Kuala Lumpur when we conceived but I decided to have my baby back home in Calcutta (my long-time gynae and the convenience of the full time domestic help available at my parents' place were the two primary reasons).
I went back to KL when my daughter was 3 months old. Thereafter we moved to Bangkok, stayed there for one year and have recently moved to Guangzhou, China. Here’s what my journey has been like:
In the first three harrowing months of motherhood, I was exclusively breastfeeding my daughter, and found there were no places, even in the recently built high-end malls, to breastfeed the baby. Since she was breastfeeding on demand, I had to take her everywhere I went, so unless I went to someone's house there were no little jaunts possible to give me a breather (I wasn't able to pump, sadly).
So what I inferred was that here you don't take small babies out; either you leave them at home or don't go out yourself.
Next Stop, Kuala Lumpur
This city proved to be great for both pregnant women and lactating mommies. Traditionally, families are large in Malaysia, so the facilities were excellent! I took my daughter wherever I wanted and there were always spacious and comfortablefeeding and diaper changing rooms. No more going to Mothercare's cramped changing room to breastfeed!
The private hospital that we visited (Pantai International) was top-notch, with a great team of doctors and a good ER facility for all hyper first-time parents, and other real emergencies.
I got a Filipino helper here too, who was extremely efficient and professional Though they cost much more than the Indian help that we are used to).
Baby in Bangkok
“Baby-friendly” isn’t the first thing you’d think about a place like Bangkok, but I found excellent facilities for my 1 year old toddler. Lumphini Park was one of the best places for families: There were weekend markets, cultural performances and music shows all packed into any given weekend. And the best part (for me anyway) is that I could send baby and daddy to the park and both would come back happy!
Every mall had great indoor child zones, so when it was too hot we headed here (and I got to shop while father and daughter had their weekend bonding sessions!). My daughter was well engaged here, too. People are friendly and it was easy for my daughter to interact and engage with other children wherever she went.
The hospital that we went to, Bumrungrad International, was like a swanky five star hotel. The doctors were good (but I liked my paediatrician in KL better), and the peripheral services, like nurses assurance, billing, medicines etc were better here as compared to my experience in KL.
#ParentuneTip: In terms of a domestic helper for South Asian families, Thai-Burmese helpers are well-suited as they speak Hindi and can cook a lot of Indian food.
Going to Guangzhou
I find this place most similar to India...keeping in mind that my day to day actions all revolve around my daughter. Here, parents drive their children to excel (my daughter's play school offers piano classes, karate, fencing, swimming lessons, ballet and God knows what else I've missed out!). You know how people always joke about how Indian parents and grandparents rush and fuss over their child's every little fall—it’s exactly the same here, if not more exaggerated.
The flip side is the language, and it's taken a long time for the other children in the building to start playing with my daughter. Her school thankfully is an international one, so English is spoken.
Domestic help is expensive particular for expats. And it's impossible to get an English speaking help. But I've lucked out with my Chinese Ayi (helper) who cooks Indian food!
I had so much fun reminiscing about the days gone by, and would love to hear about your journey in different cities! Do share in the comments below.