Baby Guide 2019

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HONG KONG Baby Guide







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Stroller-friendly hikes, mums' groups and play dates

Gear for the first year WHERE TO BUY‚ SELL AND RENT

PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? Know your options when choosing a hospital



HONG KONG Baby Guide


Checking in

Where to give birth in Hong Kong


Birth stories

Giving birth at Matilda Hospital


The dreaded shots

Immunisations 101


Birth stories

Giving birth at St. Mary’s Hospital


Helpful husbands

Mastering the labour room poker face

BABY ADMIN 10 Make it official

Registering your new baby

11 Panic not

Sharing is caring. Plus domestic help


Classes through pregnancy and beyond

13 Prep and pamper

Looking after the mum-to-be

SHOPPING 14 Get the gear

Where to shop all things baby



20 BACK TO WORK 16 Bye bye baby

Getting back to the grindstone

17 Yummy in my tummy


Weaning begins

MUMS' GROUPS 19 Making friends

Coffee dates and playgroups

PLAYTIME 20 Keep them entertained

Best places for burning off steam

HIKES 22 Walking the baby

Stroller-friendly hikes

BACKPAGE 24 Mum worries

The things we all flap about

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who’s in charge? Editorial Managing Editor Gemma Shaw

Contributing Editor Becky Love

Contributing Editor Nicole Slater

Editorial Assistant Nicole Cooley

Digital Editor Apple Lee

Editorial Assistant Charmaine Ng


Design Design Coordinator Sonia Khatwani

Graphic Designer Jeramy Lee

Sales & Marketing Director of Content Hilda Chan

Senior Partnership Manager Isamonia Chui

Partnership Manager Mathew Cheung


Amelia Sewell

Becky Love

As our education editor, Amelia knows a thing or two about having children in Hong Kong. She has recently expanded her family, giving birth to her second son at Matilda Hospital just a few weeks ago. She shares her experience with us on page 6.

Our editorial assistant and first time mum-to-be. As she will be expecting her own bundle of joy this month, the Baby Guide has been a great tool for her when it comes to navigating all there is to know about having a baby in Hong Kong.

Her advice for mums-to-be? Motherhood is not a competition. Others might try to make it one but buying in on this concept will only drain your sanity.

Her advice for mums-to-be? Relax and enjoy the ride! Our Baby Guide has you covered.

Assistant Operations Manager Charles Lau

Events Events Executive Ran Chan

Publisher Tom Hilditch

Contact us Admin: 3568 3722 | Editorial: 2776 2773 Advertising: 2776 2772 Published by Hong Kong Living Ltd, LG1 Kai Wong Commercial Building, 222 Queens Road Central, Hong Kong Printer Apex Print Limited, 11-13 Dai Kwai Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po, Hong Kong

HONG KONG Baby Guide is published by Hong Kong Living Limited. This magazine is published on the understanding that the publishers, advertisers, contributors and their employees are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors and omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication. The publisher, advertisers, contributors and their employees expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a reader of this publication or not, in respect of any action or omission by this publication. Hong Kong Living cannot be held responsible for any errors or inaccuracies provided by advertisers or contributors. The views herein are not necessarily shared by the staff or publishers. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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Nicole Cooley

Rosie Gundelach

Our editorial assistant, will celebrate her daughter's second birthday this summer. She knows the trials of motherhood as an expat and understands the difficulties of not having family to hand.

A registered Australian midwife, living in Hong Kong. Rosie is currently not practicing whilst she’s busy being a mum to two babies under 16 months. You can find her over at winniewagtail. com @winniewagtail, where she writes simple, bite-sized, evidence-based pregnancy information for parents-to-be.

Her advice for mums-to-be? It's a whirlwind, but a fun one! Good luck, enjoy the cuddles and remember - who really needs sleep, anyway?

Her advice for mums-to-be? Family, friends and strangers all weigh in on how you should parent, and all these opinions can be very overwhelming. Keep an open mind to their suggestions, but above all listen to your gut!

Thanks to: Adele Brunner, Rosie Gundelach, Amelia Sewell

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Pregnancy and giving birth in Hong Kong Gemma Shaw on what to expect when you’re expecting

English and Japanese provide advice on pregnancy health, natural and C-section births, pain relief, postnatal depression and much more. Matilda Hospital has an international team of midwives and lactation consultants on hand to help mums and dads negotiate their way through the early weeks of parenthood.

Public option Hong Kong government hospitals have a good reputation for maternity care and antenatal checkups. Three which come highly recommended by expats can be found below. Even if you’re having your baby at a public hospital, you can still see a private obstetrician leading up to the birth. However, private midwives and doctors aren’t allowed access to public delivery rooms. Details of all public hospitals can be found on the Hospital Authority website. Queen Elizabeth, Kowloon: 3506 8888 Queen Mary, Pok Fu Lam: 2255 3838 Prince of Wales, Sha Tin: 3505 2211

Going private Hospitals There are 11 private hospitals in Hong Kong but not all offer maternity services and packages. As the ones that do are popular, don’t forget to book your package months in advance. Some private hospital that offer good maternity packages are; Matilda International Hospital The Peak: The HK Adventist Hospital, Stubbs Road, Happy Valley: HK Sanitorium and Hospital, Happy Valley: Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital, Wong Chuk Hang:

Obstetricians and gynaecologists If you’ve decided to deliver your baby in a private hospital, you will need regular antenatal check ups from a private obstetrician. If you choose a public hospital, it will have its own

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antenatal clinic. Some specialists that come highly recommended by expats include; Dr Alexander Doo: Dr Zara Chan: Dr Lucy Lord:

Midwives and antenatal classes Annerley The lovely team of midwives at Annerley will give you invaluable help and advice from pregnancy to birth and beyond. A whole menu of classes and workshops are offered including antenatal sessions, breastfeeding clinics, postnatal depression support and parenting classes. Packages incorporating all sorts of check ups and postnatal home visits are available.

Matilda Hospital Popular among expecting Hong Kong mamas, Matilda Hospital runs a five-week antenatal course. The classes which are offered in both

Did you know... •

• • •

The birth of a child should be registered within six weeks at one of nine birth registries, according to the district in which your baby was born. See our guide to registering the birth of your baby on page 10, in brief, you will need to bring: the HKID or valid travel document of the baby’s mother proof of the baby’s date of birth the name of the hospital in which the baby was born

hospitals Public or private? I delivered my first two sons at Matilda as I was lucky to have insurance. Both births were straightforward and I really valued the luxurious environment and personal care. During my third pregnancy, I was hospitalised (at Matilda) with complications at 18 weeks and, at 24 weeks, I was transferred as an emergency to the public Queen Mary Hospital. There, I was on a ward with eight people and everything felt more institutionalised but once I got a few creature comforts in place (such as my own pillows from home), I got used to it. The nurses were kind and when my daughter was born four weeks later weighing 1kg, everyone was amazing. The care she received in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was fantastic - it cost less per day than the hospital car park - and she would never have survived without the dedication of the medical team. Adele Brunner, Mum of three

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A labour of love at Matilda Our education editor, Amelia Sewell recently gave birth at Matilda Hospital. Here she shares her experience almost identical story of checking out of the hospital with their newborn, close to tears at the thought of saying goodbye to these wonderful women and having to go it alone. That - and the insurance cover - was enough to convince me, so I registered for the Matilda and started drawing up the perfect birth plan.

D Day When it came to the crunch though, neither of my children gave a toss about my birth plan. Both disregarded it completely and instead chose to arrive in their own melodramatic ways. The first came at 36 weeks, the second at 35. Both were emergency caesareans. One required the big red alarm bell on the wall to be pulled more than once. The only thing that did go to plan was that the midwives were exactly what I had hoped they would be. Realising that your baby is going to be delivered while still more than a month from his due date should theoretically be a fairly daunting moment. But these unflappable women set the tone in the delivery room and as they weren’t remotely panicked, neither was I.


rior to my first pregnancy, I wrongly presumed that the main challenge on the path to having a baby was the business of getting pregnant. But I soon realised that once you get pregnant, the next challenge is staying pregnant. And if you manage to stay pregnant, then you need to go through the notinsignificant process of giving birth. The bid to becoming a mother can test sanity, stress levels and pain thresholds to their very limits - no one ever said that being a woman was easy. In my case though, the final step was made decidedly easier by choosing to deliver at the Matilda.

Running the figures If the gods grace you with a straightforward birth, the hospital maternity package could cost between $21,500 and $38,500 for a two night stay, depending on the type of room, but being able to predict how labour will unfold is a skill reserved for Mother Nature alone. If you need the full caboodle of Matilda maternity services (perhaps an emergency caesarean, a five day stay), the figure can be a lot more. Do take account of the additional doctors’ fee which are

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Amelia and new baby Ludo

varied. Their charges are usually higher when you choose to stay in a twin or private room as is common practice in Hong Kong. In essence, if you want to cover all eventualities and you aren’t one of Hong Kong’s UHNW individuals, delivering in a private hospital will probably depend on what your health insurance policy is willing to cover.

Call the midwife Giving birth is highly personal; everyone has different expectations, worries and birth plans. In my case, my decision to deliver at the Matilda was based almost entirely on one point: the midwives. Ridiculous though that may sound, I knew that I would be 6,000 miles away from my mother at one of the most emotional times in my life. For all that my calm, sizeable husband is a literal mountain of strength, this was going to be his first rodeo in a delivery room. So I was conscious that I might need the additional support of someone who had seen it all before. And I knew that the Matilda midwives had a reputation for being pretty special people. I have more than one friend who recounts an

After birth Annoyingly, even once you have delivered, the challenges still aren’t over: because the next hurdle is breastfeeding, a practice my doctor referred to as “so flawed that it was clearly invented by a man.” But here again, the midwives were worth their weight in solid, shining gold. They sat with me patiently at every three hourly feed, talking me through how to latch him, how to hold him and how to stop my nipples from being lacerated. When they saw that I was exhausted and needed sleep, they suggested letting them do the 3am feed and I cried with relief. And when I was finding everything a little overwhelming, one of my favourite midwives told me that it was her belief that a glass of champagne helped to bring in the milk. That might be the loveliest lie anyone has even been kind enough to tell me. Later that day, my husband brought up a bottle; housekeeping brought in two champagne flutes; and I sat on my hospital bed with a glass in my hand, a baby in the crook of my arm, a cracking view of Hong Kong behind me and I felt my sanity gradually returning. If only every day of motherhood finished with a glass of champagne.


Routine vaccines Confused by vaccinations and where to get them? Nicole Cooley discusses the ins and outs of immunisations


he health of a child is always at the forefront of any parents’ mind, so that brings us to immunisations. Given by mouth or injection, vaccines help us produce antibodies to give immunity against diseases. The more people that are immunised, the lower the chance of infectious diseases spreading in the community. As newborn babies have low resistance and are most vulnerable to infectious diseases, immunisation is started from birth with boosters given to maintain this immunity.

Going public The Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme (HKCIP) provides free immunisation to children. Parents can bring their children from birth to five years of age to any Maternal and Child Health Centre (MCHC) of the Department of Health (DH) for immunisation. After the age of five, an immunisation service is provided directly to primary schools. As of April 2019, the HKCIP recommends vaccines and boosters for tuberculosis (BCG), poliomyelitis (polio), hepatitis B, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tetanus, pneumococcal infection, chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), cervical cancer (human papillomavirus) and seasonal influenza. For additional vaccines not on the Hong Kong schedule, you’ll need to visit a private doctor or hospital.

For more information: Family Health Service: 2833 0111 (24-hours), Maternal and Child Health Centres: 2112 9900 (24-hours) Centre for Health Protection:

Going private If you’re travelling to your home country or elsewhere on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to check which immunisation schedule is best to follow for your child as not all vaccines are offered as part of the Hong Kong schedule. A private practitioner can advise you on the best options for your child. In addition to vaccines on the Hong Kong schedule, private practices tend to stock other vaccines, such as influenza, Haemophilus Influenzae type B, Meningococcal, Hepatitis A, Rotavirus and Japanese encephalitis.

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5 things to know when Going public

Australian midwife Rosie Gundelach gave birth to her second child at Queen Mary Hospital last month


s the plane wheels lowered and hit the tarmac at Hong Kong Airport last October, ready and eager for our new family adventure, I basically fell pregnant within days of being here. Being fresh off the plane, I found myself in a country where I didn’t know the first thing about having a baby (a bizarre pill to swallow as a midwife), with no friends or support network, and an eight-monthold on my hip. So, naturally, I googled “having a baby in Hong Kong”. These are the five things I wish I had known from the beginning…


Book in early I called to book into the hospital

for my initial appointment around ten weeks, thinking I’d be able to get an appointment for a fortnight’s time. Wrong! A 5-week wait meant I didn’t have my initial antenatal appointment until 15 weeks (not ideal).


Arrive to appointments early – it’s first in best dressed!

It took me a few appointments to realise that the appointment time I had received wasn’t specifically ‘my appointment time’, and rather a window to be seen by the doctors and midwives. Arriving 20 minutes before this window (at the MCHC and Queen Mary)

always ensured me a much shorter wait time. Most appointments I was in and out within an hour and a half. *Tip – when doing the glucose tolerance test – arrive even earlier. I was 21st in line, and I had arrived 40 minutes early, with 60 people behind me (I counted!) before the doors even opened. It’s already a two hour test so don’t stuff around!


Join the Whatsapp groups

I stumbled upon some Whatsapp groups linking pregnant women with similar due dates. It was great. We caught up for lunches, arranged play dates for the older kids, and swapped recommendations for everything from acupuncturists’ details to nipple cream brands. Just keep in mind that this is a group of mums and not health professionals. As a midwife, I was alarmed at the misinformation being shared via this social platform that could potentially harm mums and their unborn babies. It’s important to remember that for any medical questions that you yourself need answering, ask a healthcare professional (midwife, doctor, obstetrician).


Bedside manner


Ask for appointments to be in English

There has definitely been a push in Australian midwifery to use womancentred language (fancy term for language that empowers and nurtures the birthing woman’s journey). Culturally, it hasn’t travelled across the Pacific. Don’t be deterred by brash medical terminology, or blunt directives. If you’re not getting the response to your questions that you’re after, keep asking different staff until you find someone more helpful.

Queen Mary, being a tertiary teaching hospital, has medical students and midwifery students working alongside the doctors and midwives, therefore a lot of people can be coming and going from the room without introducing themselves. Be assertive – ask for conversations to be in English. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s your body, your birth, your baby. You have a right to be included in the conversations about your care. Rosie Gundelach is a Registered Australian midwife, living in Hong Kong. She is currently not practicing whilst she’s busy being a mum to two babies under 16 months. You can find her over at @winniewagtail, where she writes simple, bite-sized, evidencebased pregnancy information for parentsto-be. Rosie with her growing family

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Husbands in labour Amelia Sewell offers dads some tips on mastering the labour room poker face


t my very first scan when I was newly pregnant with our first son, my obstetrician looked my husband up and down with a tangible air of impatience and barked - “Sit over there and stay out of trouble; you’ve done your bit.” I gather she says that same to all the husbands. Blunt though that was, she wasn’t lying. For all that conception is a two-person tango - or rumba, quickstep, paso doble. You do it however you want - pregnancy is a job for the girls. But that all changes when the waters break. Once the baby is on the way, you’re thrown into a sink or swim scenario and it is vital for all involved that you swim. So dads, this is for you. Your guide to getting it right in the delivery room – •

Rule number one - try not to be

annoying. This is the overarching mantra. Mothers in labour have a very low tolerance as to what constitutes irritating - remember that scene in Friends where Rachel is in labour and Ross is told off for breathing too loudly? So be on high alert. It may help if you look on it as tiptoeing through a minefield that is made entirely of eggshells. Tread carefully. And breathe quietly. •

Assume the role of family spokesman. Particularly if you are delivering in a public hospital, you may be required to communicate some requests to the midwives and doctors on behalf of the woman who is busy pushing human life into this world. If your wife is begging for an epidural but the midwife has

gone selectively deaf to her request, be prepared to fight that battle on your beloved’s behalf. •

Practice your poker face and temper your use of expletives: the miracle of birth can, at times, be visually a little grim but there’s no need to communicate this to your wife.

Similarly, if the sight of blood makes you queasy, do everyone a favour and sit down before you fall down. The midwives do not have time to stitch up the head of a fainting father.

On the subject of midwives, these are the prefects of the delivery room and they should be listened to at all times (notwithstanding the earlier point about selective deafness.)

The pregnant lady is always right and a woman in labour reserves the right to change her mind. Now is not the time to tell her that she had stated in her birth plan that she didn’t want any of the drugs. When the woman wants pethidine, it’s a foolish man who would stand in her way.

Be attentive. Sometimes labour can go on for a while and there are likely to be moments when it seems like you can take your eye off the ball. However if you are too busy watching rugby on your iPhone to hear your wife ask you to pass her the water, your name may not make it onto the birth certificate.

Consider yourself head of HR. Once the baby is here, there are certain admin hoops that need to be jumped through in order to get the birth certificate, visa and passport. As your wife has just done nine months of pregnancy followed by labour, it is probably best to assume that this responsibility falls under your jurisdiction. See page 10 for details on how to make the baby official.

And my last point is this: be gentle with us, while giving birth in all its forms is far from a walk in the park, the days and weeks post-pregnancy can also be challenging. The hormones can be cruel, the wounds painful, the sleep scant and the baby demanding. So remember to continue to check on us. Keep an eye out for signs of depression, ask where you can help, offer to do a feed, keep the gin supplies stocked - and maybe visit a jeweller….

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baby admin

Making it official

Registering the birth and applying for visas after giving birth in Hong Kong Book an appointment The next step is to book an appointment to complete the registration. First check the registry have received the notification from the hospital - a call to 2824 6111 can confirm this. Then book an appointment either over the phone or by going online. Slots are usually available the next working day from Monday to Saturday. The system works as one appointment per baby so if you had twins, you will need to make two appointments. To speed up your visit to the registry, go online (at least one day before the appointment) and enter the relevant birth information.

Who needs to go? • • •

The babies themselves are not required If parents are married, only one need attend If the parents are not married and you would like the father acknowledged on the birth certificate, it is easiest if both parents attend (otherwise it is complicated and requires a court order to confirm paternity) If one parent does not have HKID, both will need to attend

What to take Come prepared and take original copies and two photocopies of all documents listed below: •


ollowing the joy of bringing a new life into this world, there is a bit of admin to do in order to make the baby official. Here is a blow-by-blow account of how to register the birth and apply for a visa after delivering in a Hong Kong hospital.

1. BIRTH CERTIFICATE Time frame Once your baby is born, the hospital will notify the birth registry of your new arrival and give you something called a birth return, which has basic details of the baby’s birth. You have one year to register a child’s birth, if you do it within 42 days, there is no charge, after that the charge is $140. Check with the hospital which district registry office your child is registered to and make sure this is the one you go to!

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• •

Both parents’ Hong Kong permanent identity cards or (for those without PR) both HKID and passports/relevant travel documents The birth return issued by the hospital For married parents - your marriage certificate. If not in Chinese or English, a certified translation is required For unmarried parents - take separate statutory declarations (one from each of you) stating your desire for the father to be included on the birth registration document

Assuming you have taken along all the correct documents, you will be issued with a birth certificate to take away that day. To future proof any potential problems, it is highly recommended that you request some additional certified copies at $140 each. You will also be issued with a form called an ID235B which is the Permit to Remain and is needed for the visa application.

2. PASSPORT Being born here does not automatically entitle the child to a Hong Kong passport. The Immigration Department states that only those with Chinese nationality and Hong Kong permanent residency are eligible to apply for a Hong Kong passport. So the majority of expats will need to apply to their home countries for their baby’s travel document.

3. HONG KONG VISA Once a foreign country has issued a passport for the baby, parents can apply for a dependent visa, which will give the child the right to reside. If either you or your husband works for a large company with an HR department that normally sorts your visas, they might well do this for you; if not, then make an appointment with the Immigration Department. For your appointment, take the following: • Birth certificate (original and copy) • Child’s travel document (original and copy) • Copy of both parents’ travel documents (including visa page) • Copy of both parents’ HKID • Copy of parents’ marriage certificate • Form ID 235B (issued with birth certificate) • Completed Endorsement of Travel form

Births and Deaths General Register Office Immigration Department 2824 6111

panic stations

Baby panic stations Who to call when you don’t know who to call. Amelia Sewell lends a hand Available to book 24 hours a day, these are the people to call when you need to get some proper sleep. 6295 6051,

Edith Lemardelee Edith is a lady many people have turned to over the years for help. A native French speaker with impeccable English, she works alongside mothers in the homes as a maternity/night nurse. She is also experienced with twins. 9170 1626

Hiring help in Hong Kong Local helpers can be hired on a part- or full-time basis. Foreign domestic helpers (typically from the Philippines or Indonesia) can only legally be employed full time on a two-year, live-in contract.

Who can hire a helper?


o here’s the thing – sometimes the challenges of parenthood start pretty soon after the baby arrives. Few of us will have to wait until the terrible twos for the trials to begin; sometimes those little ones come out of the womb ready to put parents straight to the test. From colic to engorgement, reflux to aggravated perineum stitches (yes, sorry, that’s a thing) or just reluctant sleepers and eaters, parenthood can be a steep learning curve.

Rule number one: Don’t suffer in silence There are no points for bravery and there is nothing to be gained from pretending that everything is fine when you are actually finding it all a bit overwhelming. So rule number one of parenthood – if you are struggling, tell someone. Aside from the fact that it is just good to share a problem, you may stumble across people who have been through the same thing themselves and can offer advice.

Rule number two: don’t be afraid to call in the professionals Hong Kong is full of people who have spent years becoming experts at all these new things that life is so rudely chucking at you. Yes, it might require spending some money, but sometimes, that is a small price if it will keep your sanity intact.

Who to call? The first port of call for any major health worries (yours or the baby’s) should obviously be your

You need to be a Hong Kong resident with a monthly household income of no less than $15,000. doctor. New mothers are known to be worriers and in many instances, the doctor will just reassure you that everything is fine. On the other hand, some things like mastitis, tongue-tie and ongoing reflux require a little medical assistance. For problems and questions that do not require a doctor, below is a helpful list of names and numbers.

The Family Zone Started by Yvonne Heavyside, a lactation consultant and community nurse from the UK, Yvonne and her team offer one-to-one sessions on a myriad of issues. So whether you need a postnatal check up on a caesarean scar, think there’s something wrong with the latch or want advice on how to get your baby to sleep, The Family Zone experts will set your mind at ease.

Central Health For those who have used an obstetrician from Central Health in delivery, the midwives are also available to help postpartum (for insurance reasons, they can not visit new patients). On top of midwife home visits, they offer baby sleep workshops and support groups for mothers’ emotional well-being. 2824 0822,

How do I find a helper? It is best to do so by word of mouth. There are specialist helper recruitment agencies but many have come under fire for disreputable practices. Either way, you must enter into a binding Standard Employment Contract (ID407) and apply to the Immigration Department for an employment visa for the helper.

How much will a helper cost me? The Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) for a full-time live-in helper (at the time of writing) is $4,520 per month, but many expats pay above this depending on years of duty and level of experience. Employers must also provide food or a food allowance of no less than $1,075 per month; suitable accommodation with access to cooking and bathroom facilities; insurance and medical care; pay all hiring-related costs; and airfares for annual home leave.

Things to be aware of • •

The Nanny Experts The Nanny Experts are on hand to help find a maternity nurse for mothers needing some guidance. They aim to increase maternal confidence and can also help with sleep training.

Employers must give their helpers a full day of rest every week. Helpers are entitled to 12 statutory holidays as well as annual leave. It is up to you whether you also wish to give your helper extra time off such as all general public holidays or an extended holiday. It is illegal to employ a full-time foreign domestic helper who doesn’t live in your home.

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fitness & health

Exercising and pampering for two Nicole Slater and Becky Love round up the best prenatal and postnatal fitness classes and treatments Flex Studio

Prenatal pilates Incorporating both mat work and Allegro exercises, Flex Studio’s prenatal pilates helps to prepare your body for birth by strengthening the lower abdominal region to support the growing baby and thereby alleviating lower back pain and toning pelvic floor muscles in preparation for delivery. Instructors offer modifications for each trimester.

Postnatal pilates

Fitness Yoga Room

‘expecting’ friends together for a private group session at their studio.

Prenatal yoga


Mums, breathe a sigh of relief. Yoga Room offers daily prenatal and postnatal yoga classes. Prenatal classes help expecting mums feel at peace with what’s to come and offer a safe place away from any anxiety concerning the birth process. Postnatal classes focus on rebuilding strength and stability in the abdomen, back and pelvic floor muscles.

Gain back your strength, stamina and flexibility in a fun and safe environment. Barre 2 Barre’s postnatal classes focus on pelvic and spinal stability while strengthening your deep abdominals. Each class is capped at eight students. 4/F Cheung Hing Commercial Building, 37 Cochrane Street, Central.

Mum and baby classes New mums can also enjoy mother and baby classes which help strengthen and support postpartum bodies, while offering the opportunity to meet other new mums. Xiu Ping Commercial Building, 104 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan.

Barre 2 Barre Mama Prenatal

Feel good and keep up with your prepregnancy routine with Barre 2 Barre’s private classes, using neutral spinal alignment, breath and classic BarreAmped exercises. Start a Barre 2 Barre Bump Club or get your

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Re-discover your pre-pregnancy body by strengthening the muscles of your lower abdominal region and pelvic floor whilst focusing on balance, posture and breath. This class is suitable for all postnatal stages, including those with older children who feel they haven’t fully recovered their prepregnancy body. Shops 308-310, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang.

Pure Yoga

Prenatal Yoga Connect with your baby and body through a range of yoga poses, specifically designed to engage the pelvic floor area and strengthen the core. The class offers a sense of community for mums to share the experience of pregnancy together. 3-19 Wing Fung Street. Starstreet Precinct, Wan Chai.

fitness & health experience, I can’t help but feel it’s also an absolute necessity. I experienced the Ultimate Rose Pregnancy Massage at Flawless in Central with former midwife Salve. Knowing that Salve had been a midwife for many years in the Philippines before moving to Hong Kong gave me peace of mind that I wasn't going to go into early labour mid-massage! Salve informed me of a few points that are the ‘no go zone’ when it comes to pregnancy massage. I called them ‘the red button’, something that was not to be pushed until labour. These include areas at the back of the neck, points on the ankles, lower back and around the webbing next to the thumbs.

Becky enjoying her first session with Dr. Holst

too bad for someone who has never seen a chiropractor before.

Becky Love discovers the benefits of prenatal chiropractic treatments Dr. Holst is one of very few pregnancy specific chiropractors in Hong Kong. She has a large expat following in Hong Kong and a growing YouTube channel. That alone explains the growing popularity of pregnancy chiropractic care - and it makes complete sense. Your body goes through so many changes during pregnancy. Things shift, our pelvis adjusts and our belly and breast growth can put pressure on our backs, causing pain and even nausea. Dr. Holst tells me that prenatal chiropractic care can actually reduce the duration of labour by 25 percent for your first child and up to 33 percent for your second. That’s enough for me to give it a go and I settle in for my first treatment. I get comfortable face down with my belly positioned on a cushion so there is no pressure on baby. Dr. Holst assures me that the ‘cracks’ should never hurt and what shocks most people is the noise itself. She then adjusts my spine (which she likened to bamboo due to how stiff it was), my neck, hips and also performs the Webster Technique on my belly. This is where she presses very gently on the ligaments of my lower belly to make extra space for baby and prevent breech presentation. My regular yoga practice seems to have paid off, as I am told I am not

So, was it worth it? For me, a definite yes. As I walked out of the clinic and in the days following, my belly felt lighter and less tight. I felt more spacious across my chest and slept without pain across my hips. I will definitely be going back before and after baby is born to make sure everything is in place, just as it should be. First consultation $1,200 (50% off when booking online) then $900 thereafter. 14 Floor Lee Kum Kee Central, 54-58 Des Voeux Road Central.

Pregnancy massage Becky Love enjoys a relaxing massage at Flawless in Central Although a massage feels like a complete luxury during pregnancy, after my first

The use of a pregnancy massage cushion during the treatment itself allowed me to lay comfortably face down - something I realised I have missed. Using safely formulated oils, perfect for mums-to-be, Salve massages across my back, shoulders, arms and legs as I allowed myself to relax for the first time in a while. It has been hard to reach everywhere with my own moisturiser since reaching the third trimester, so it was a real treat knowing my whole body was being nourished and moisturised without having to contort myself into awkward positions to reach certain parts on my own. And as if that’s not enough, the treatment continues with a facial massage using oil chosen for my sensitive hormonal pregnancy skin, plus a face mask and steam topped off with a full scalp massage. As I walked away from my pamper session, I couldn’t help but feel a little lighter on my feet. Whilst it’s important to rest, it was nice to have a little spring in my step without feeling dragged down for the first time in a while. The Ultimate Rose Pregnancy Massage is the perfect top-to-toe treatment and is suitable from the second trimester. $900 for 60 minutes or $1,480 for 90 minutes. Sea Bird House, 2228 Wyndham Street, Central.

Tranquil decor at Flawless

Baby Guide | 13


Get into gear Becky Love on where to buy, sell and rent baby items Kidz Wagon An online boutique store selling high quality baby and nursing items from Japanese brands such as Niva and POMPKINS. The store also offers a see+shop service in which they meet with clients and help to create a personalised wishlist.

Silver Cross One of the world’s leading nursery brands founded in Yorkshire in 1877, Silver Cross is internationally recognised for its stylish range of prams, travel systems, strollers, nursery furniture and car seats.

Petit Lion Co Specialising in all things bed, bath and beyond, the newly opened Petit Lion Co online store has everything you need to freshen up your baby’s wardrobe. From 100% Turkish Cotton ponchos and robes to organic cotton swaddles and bedding you can guarantee your baby will be comfortable wherever they go.


f you’re new to the baby scene in Hong Kong, chances are you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. We've got your shopping list covered with some of the best stores in the city for new and pre-loved baby items.

BUY Mothercare You may have heard of this one, seeing as it’s the world’s biggest retail specialist in newborn and parenting products. After opening their first store in Hong Kong in 1992, the brand now have 10 stores across the city with their flagship store located in Lee Garden Two.

14 | Baby Guide

Bumpa Mats Bumpa Mats is an Australian-owned and operated brand that specialises in fun, functional and stylish play mats with a reversible design. This cushioned play mat is hygienic, non-slip, water resistant, super easy to clean and free from BPA, Phthalates and Formamide, making it the ideal play mat for children to eat, learn, rest and play. Bumpa Mats playmats are great for all floor surfaces including timber, tiles, lino, carpet, grass, concrete and patios. Meeting CE standards in the UK, Europe and Australia earns Bumpa Mats non-toxic and manufacturing accreditations.

STORE IT! If you’re not quite ready to part with your baby gear and think it might be worthwhile keeping it a little longer in case baby number two happens, you can put your gear in storage. The below websites offer some great options at reasonable prices.

shopping Retykle The online store focuses on buying and selling high end, second hand children's clothing from top brands including Bonpoint, Jacadi and Ralph Lauren. Shoppers can enjoy up to 90% off original clothing prices.

Places to donate If you’re not fussed on getting some cash back and would rather donate, you can do this through a number of places such as Oxfam at and The Salvation Army at

RENT If you’re not keen on the buying and selling thing, you might prefer to rent items that you won’t need for so many years, such as prams, cots and high chairs. You can do this from a number of places in Hong Kong, like Indigo Living who offer flexible furniture rental packages. Home Essentials also offer home decor rentals so you can add those finishing touches to your nursery and hand it back when he’s suddenly asking you for a race car bed.

Kidz Wagon

SELL & DONATE Kids Dress Smart An online consignment platform selling new and pre-loved clothing from designer brands such as Armani, Bonpoint, Jacadi, Il Gufo, Petit Bateau, Juicy Couture. Parents can extend the life of their children’s outgrown clothing by selling (and receiving 50%-55% cash or credit) or donating them. When you donate, KiDS adds an additional 10% for each item sold and gives 60% of sales to charity, the company has helped to raise over $100,000 for charity.

Bumpa Mats

Baby & Kids Wear for Bed, Bath, Beach & Pool 100% Turkish Cotton Authentically Made in Turkey WWW.PETITLIONCO.COM

Baby Guide | 15

back to work

back to work

Becky Love summarises all you need to know about heading back to work A.C (after child) Maternity and Paternity Leave First things first - you are going to need to organise your maternity and paternity leave in order to get some well deserved time off with your new arrival. In Hong Kong, an employee is eligible for 10 weeks paid maternity leave if: • She has been employed under a continuous contract for no less than 40 weeks immediately before the commencement of the scheduled maternity leave; • She has given notice of pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave to her employer after the pregnancy has been confirmed, such as by presenting a medical certificate confirming her pregnancy to the employer; and • She has produced a medical certificate specifying the expected date of confinement if so required by her employer. In case the length of employment is less than 40 weeks immediately before the commencement of scheduled maternity leave, the employee is eligible for 10 weeks' maternity leave without pay if the employee has given notice of pregnancy and her intention to take maternity leave after the pregnancy has been confirmed. For paternity leave, a male employee is entitled to five days leave for each child of his spouse or partner if: • He is the father of the newborn child or father-to-be; • He has been employed under a continuous contract; and • He has given the required notification to the employer, which is at least three months before the expected date of delivery of the child (exact date of leave not required at this stage).

Did you know: From 2020, new mothers will receive a maternity leave increase from 10 to 14 weeks paid leave, should the new law be passed by the Legislative Council. Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the initiative in her policy address in late 2018. 16 | Baby Guide

Prepare yourself By the time your 10 weeks is up, you’ll either be more than ready to trade dirty diapers for paperwork (probably if it’s your second and you’ve been through this before), or you’ll be dealing with an avalanche of emotions. However you’re feeling, leaving your little one for the first time is not an easy task and you will need to prepare yourself before the big day to allow for a smooth transition. 1. Prepare for your new routine To-do-lists are going to be your best friend at this point. In order to feel a bit more in control, write down everything that you need to take care of before heading to work each morning and tick it off as you go. Set your alarm to make sure that you are up early enough to do the things you need to do; if you need to feed baby or would like to allow for some play time, be sure to factor those things in. 2. Hire a dependable helper If you aren’t lucky enough to have relatives living close by who can help look after your little one, chances are you will need to hire a helper. No doubt you will be very particular when it comes to your choice, but you need to feel confident and at ease when leaving your newborn with someone new in order to transition smoothly. Check out our Hiring Help guide on page 11 to get you started.

3. Do a test run Rather than have a full blown breakdown on the first day of work, think about a test run before the actual day. By this we mean, do everything you would be doing on your working mornings, leave baby with your new helper and go out and get your hair done or visit a friend to mimic what being away from your baby might feel like for you. When you walk back through that door and see that everything at home is just fine, it might make your first real day just a teensy bit easier.

Breastfeeding when you’re back at work Get in touch with your HR department before you head back to work and ask if lactation rooms are available. If not, ask if they have ideas for how to accommodate your needs. All you need is a clean, private room with a power outlet. That could mean getting the key to an empty storage room or having a lock installed on your office door. If you live close to your workplace, you could consider leaving during your lunch break to feed your baby. Not only will it save you a pump session, but it will also give you extra time to bond with your baby. Just be sure to discuss your plans with your employer ahead of time.

baby weaning

Ready, steady, eat Your little one is growing up! Prepare yourself for messy floors and faces as you start spooning out the grub. Nicole Cooley reports Tried and tested

Hong Kong parents take a look back at their child’s first foods:

“Harris started with purées and then moved to a mix of baby-led and spoon-fed.” “One of Zoe’s first foods were bananas - it was a hit and still is at two years-old!”

When to begin? Every country has a different attitude for when babies should start on solids. The World Health Organisation suggests introducing complementary foods from six months, but some babies are able to start from four months. Regardless, the NHS recommends looking out for all of these three signs in your baby: • Stay in a sitting position and hold their head steady • Coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at the food, pick it up and put it in their mouth by themselves • Swallow food rather than spit it back out If in doubt, check with your pediatrician before embarking on solid foods, especially if allergies run in the family. Remember that weaning is a gradual process and milk is still a baby’s main source of nutrition!

Baby-led weaning vs spoonfeeding There’s never any right or wrong about how you introduce your baby to foods for the first time. Baby-led weaning refers to giving your baby finger foods only and letting them feed themselves (whilst watching with an eagle eye to make sure they don’t choke). Some parents decide to go down this route, others stick to feeding puréed or mashed food on a spoon, whilst some may use a combination of the two. There are advantages and disadvantages to both - but the point is to make sure your child

has variety and that meal times are enjoyable for everyone!

What to eat first? Single vegetables and fruits are commonly the first foods, such as mashed or cooked sticks of carrot, sweet potato, broccoli, potato, parsnip, yam, apple or pear. Avocado or banana can be eaten either as batons or mashed. Some cultures introduced pureed meat as a first food, as they are good for replenishing iron stores which begin to deplete from around six months old. For babyled weaning, make sure foods are soft enough for babies to use their gums to eat, but not so mushy that they cannot hold them. Encourage a range of tastes and textures from a young age to help set your little one up with a good start to life.

Equipment checklist

High chair - for sitting upright and safely harnessing in Bibs - to keep clothes fairly clean Small bowls - ones with suction bases are handy for making sure food stays on the table Weaning spoons - easier for babies to grip and better for their gums Sippy cup - for starting on water Ice cube trays / plastic containers - handy for batch cooking and freezing small portions

“Rosie loved strawberry, hated carrot puree and but was satisfied (going by the size of her!) after what I think is butternut squash.” “One of Sebby’s first tastes was mixed berries! Needless to say, I don’t think he was too impressed!” “One of Addi’s first tastes was broccoli. Funnily enough, despite first impressions, she now loves it!” “Apart from eating the sheep from the Nativity scene, Isla's first food was baby rice. She loved it so much that she stole the spoon from me after the first mouthful! Baby Guide | 17

mums groups

groups to join Nicole Cooley rounds up the best groups for new mums in Hong Kong own playdates based on interests and best times to meet whilst connecting with others in the same boat. Created by Ekta Tejwani who also runs a Facebook group Meet Mumz - Let's build it together which hosts regular events.

Bebegarten Education Centre

FOR Bebegarten’s playgroups ACTIVITY range from crawlers (6-11 AREAS months), movers (11-16 months), toddlers (16-24 months) and transitioners (24-36 months). With plenty of learning opportunities for the little ones to develop to their fullest potential, it’s a great place to meet other caregivers too! Monthly tuition starts from $1,800 per month for 11 months. Open 8am5pm Monday to Friday in Wong Chuk Hang. Facebook Groups Facebook has a plethora FOR of support and information FACEBOTHE such as groups on OKER breastfeeding, baby led weaning, mum fitness, buying and selling baby things, working parents and groups by Hong Kong location. Our favourites are Hong Kong Breastfeeding for truly helpful advice in those first few weeks, Hong Kong Moms for random nuggets of advice (and general lurking, it’s a thing), and British Mums in HK for your comforting tea chat.

St John’s Playgroup This friendly, informal group meets at St John’s Cathedral in Central every Thursday from 2.30-4.30pm. Great for newcomers to Hong Kong, as parents can FOR S socialise over cake whilst MER W NE CO the little ones can interact and enjoy the large space. Children from birth to two years old are welcome and a range of toys are provided. For first-time attendees, contact Mrs Vanda Cole on 2855 7074.

WhatsApp Groups WhatsApp has groups for expecting mums

by date and location. Use Facebook groups or FOR forums such as geobaby. STANT IN com to see if there’s any HELP relatable groups you can join - dads too! Can’t find the group you’re looking for? Then it’s easy enough to start your own and invite like-minded people in.

Play Days Parent and Toddler Group This playgroup for under 4s runs every Wednesday from 9.30-11am and invites families to join in the fun for $80. Alternatively, FOR your caregiver and toddler TECH THE N can join the Friday morning PHOB Ogroup. Playgroup begins E with 45 minutes of free play, followed by a healthy snack, story and music time.

Coffee breaks Baumhaus Watch on with a coffee as your kids play. Look out for half price Mummy Mondays! Open daily, Harbour City 9.30am-6.30pm & Wan Chai 9am-6pm. $100 per child plus $60 per additional sibling.

Bubs in Pubs Grab your morning coffee, tea or snack whilst the kids make the most of the play corner. Monday-Friday, 9-11am. Free when purchasing a drink. The Picture House, Yi Chun Street, Sai Kung.

Mum and Baby Clinic at Annerley For mums, and babies from birth to one year. Meet a nurse, midwife or lactation consultant to chat about your baby’s progress whilst getting to know other mums over tea or coffee. Wednesday’s 10am-12 noon for $400 at their Central location in OT&P Family Clinic.



For parents that miss swiping, this Tinder-like FOR app helps you find your APP LOVE tribe. Scroll through the RS app to make friends with Mumz (or Dadz) in your area. You can create your

There’s ample space for cooped-up kids to run, jump, clamber and slide. You’ll also find dedicated toddler zones and on-site cafés. Open from 10am daily, closing times and prices vary by location. Located in Kennedy Town, Ma On Sha and North Point.

Baby Guide | 19

play days

Child’s Play From leisure centres to swimming pools, keep the kids entertained. By Nicole Slater Playhouse Another multi-branch (North Point, Yau Tong and San Po Kong) indoor option that’s great for rainy or sweltering days, Playhouse has the classic soft-play format down to a T. Think slides, ball pits, obstacle courses and climbing frames, alongside other less commonplace amenities like electric driving circuits and library corners. All branches can be booked out for parties, and their San Po Kong branch also features a café.

as well as expose some basic ball skills such as handling, throwing, dribbling, kicking and striking. Prices start from $150 per child per session.

Toy Library The first of its kind in Hong Kong, the Toy Library can be found on the second floor of Hong Kong Central Library. It is aimed at children aged eight and below with four different play corners - Baby, Pretend and Imaginative, Creative and Activities and Games. Sessions can be reserved up to one week in advance on 2921 0378. Remember to wear socks.

Where to PLAY

Where to buy party supplies

Epicland If bigger means better in your household, look no further than Discovery Bay’s Epicland. At 14,000 square feet, Hong Kong’s largest play centre is fully kitted out with fantastic facilities the kids will love. Daredevils can test their nerves on the sky-high Air Trek obstacle course, while down below you’ll find a mini golf course, trampolines, laser tag, foam ballistics room, climbing wall, vast playground, toddler rock climbing area… the list goes on. Open 9.30am-7.30pm daily. $148 per child (includes one adult admission).

Partytime Your one-stop-shop for everything from decorations to costumes to throw the perfect party. Shop 1301A, Kids Square, 13A Floor, Tower One, Times Square, Causeway Bay.

Children’s Play Rooms


The Children’s Play Rooms are provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department with locations conveniently spread across the city. They are aimed at children up to nine years old (and whose height does not exceed 142cm). Children under the age of four must be accompanied by an adult. Sessions are held every hour for 50 minutes. Remember to check in advance for maintenance and cleaning days.

Planning a Disney themed party? From princesses to superheros ToysRus has a range of themed party decorations. Shop 201 - 210, 2/F, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road, Central.

Minisport For really wearing the little ones out (and perhaps the parents too), try out this one-hour session of sport. The Minisport Playgroup is for ages 1.5-2.5 and teaches a range of fine and gross motor activities and encourages exploration of colours, animals and numbers. Children learn to turn, crawl, step and jump

20 | Baby Guide

Bookazine With stores across the city, Bookazine is the answer to all your last minute card and decoration needs!

The Party Boutique A Hong Kong based online store with something for every occasion, including personalised banners and invitations.

pool days Tseung Kwan O Swimming Pool A whopping eight pools make this a fun venue for the whole family, with a 50 metre lap pool, large free-form children’s pool with all sorts of slides and play equipment and several training pools for different abilities. Closed Mondays.

Kennedy Town Swimming Pool

Where to SPLASH Grand Hyatt Hong Kong With an unbeatable harbour view, set among tropical gardens, the 50 metre heated pool on the Grand Hyatt’s leisure deck is a memorable location for a day on the sun lounger. There’s a restaurant (with pool-side waiter service for cocktails), waterfall and even a 400 metre jogging track. A day pass is $550 and includes access to the outdoor pools, gym and sauna. Advanced booking required. Mon-Sun. Sunrise to sunset.

Sai Kung Swimming Pool With an enviable location right on the waterfront promenade, Sai Kung’s public pool has a gorgeous view from the first-floor sundeck (get there early to grab a lounger and umbrella). As well as a 50 metre lap pool with separate lanes for serious swimmers, there’s a 25 metre training pool, free-form toddlers’ pool with playground, palm-tree fountains, children’s slide, water games and two swirly-whirly slides for bigger kids. Closed Wednesdays.

Pao Yue Kong Swimming Pool The only public swimming pool on Southside has two 50 metre pools, two training pools, and a leisure pool with slides and diving pool. It’s tucked away in Wong Chuk Hang, conveniently close to Jumbo Kingdom for post-swim munchies. Opens at 6.30am. Closed Tuesdays.

Designed by Terry Farrell (the architect behind the Peak Tower), it’s fast on its way to becoming an iconic building that makes the most of its waterfront location and stunning views. The final building – completed in 2016 – includes a jacuzzi, teaching pool and multi-purpose pool. Meanwhile, have fun on the play equipment in one of the family, leisure or indoor pools. Regular swim meets are held here and there’s a 1,000-seat stand. Closed Wednesdays.

Island Shangri-la A little piece of paradise surrounded by skyscrapers, sun-loungers and lush greenery, the Island Shangri-La’s 28 metre pool is a glamorous city retreat. Day passes are available on weekdays only (excluding public holidays) for $650, granting access to the pool, gym and locker rooms. Call ahead to reserve. $800 on the weekends. 6am-10pm.

Where to celebrate Frites Frites is great for kids’ parties, particularly during lunch and brunch times. With high ceilings, rustic tables and stained glass windows, the restaurant is decorated in a European bistro-style and has a soft play corner. Parents can enjoy the selection of Belgian beers and comforting classics including mussel pots, roast chicken and burgers, while the kids have their own special menu with five main course options, including bangers and mash and mini burgers.

Tikitiki The tropical themed bowling alley offers basic party packages including two fun-filled hours with the skittles, plus invitations, decorations, video wall announcements, balloons, party favours and a cake. If you don’t think a few rounds of bowling are enough, additional extras include balloon sculpting, face painting, clowns, character actors and puppet shows. Themed parties such as Dinosaur, Mermaid and Pirate, are also available. TikitikiBowlingBar

Maggie & Rose This family-friendly beach club has views over Repulse Bay and the South China Sea. For kids aged one to 10 years, Maggie & Rose will take the burden out of organising a party, providing the little ones with vibrant entertainers and fresh food. For the adults, their third floor 9,000 square foot space or roof terrace is perfect for a private or corporate event. Space is available to members and non-members.

Woodland Pre-schools Woodland Pre-schools know a thing or two about keeping kids entertained, making them the perfect hosts for lots of excited partygoing tots. Their six schools are spacious and child friendly with age appropriate indoor and outdoor equipment. Entertainment and catering options are available, although you are welcome to do your own thing (each school has a handy kitchen at your disposal). Woodland parties are suitable for kids up to the age of eight, with a capacity for up to 20 guests.

Baby Guide | 21


Stroller-friendly strolls Recharge in nature on these baby-friendly hikes, by Nicole Slater


locking up your recommended step allowance with baby in tow can be quite a challenge, but not to worry, we’ve rounded up some of the most picturesque, stroller-friendly hikes across the city to get you and your little one out and about enjoying Hong Kong’s back garden.

Hong Kong Park and Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens


Time: No set time No need to stray far from the city, Hong Kong park and the adjoining Zoological and Botanical Gardens are the perfect place to stroll, enjoy a picnic and introduce your little monkey to some new animals. The parks are mostly paved and flat so perfect for strollers. For slightly older children, Hong Kong Park boasts a large children’s playground complete with climbing frames and slides, while the zoological gardens are home to a range of exotic and interesting animals including

22 | Baby Guide

flamingos, monkeys, meerkats and more! 19 Cotton Tree Drive, Central.

Parkview to Tai Tam Time: 1 hour One of Hong Kong’s most popular strollerfriendly walks, this gem is mostly paved and downhill with stunning views across the reservoir. Take a taxi to Parkview, head down to the left until you come across a black and white

barrier, preventing traffic access. Cross the barrier and follow the BEST FOR signs for the waterworks trail until ROCKING TO SLEEP you reach Tai Tam Reservoir, then turn left and cross over the bridge. Turn right and you’ll find yourself at another dam with beautiful views. Head down the hill to reach Tai Tam Road, where you can then catch a bus or taxi to Stanley for a well deserved lunch.

Hike from Parkview to Tai Tam

Peak Circle Walk


BREA Time: 1 hour THE VIEW The entirely paved path which FROM THE circles the top of the Peak is TOP smooth riding for strollers and scooters. This is a time to appreciate the city in which you live in all its glory as you breathe in spectacular views of Hong Kong’s stunning skyline. Start at Lugard Road near The Peak Galleria, walk along the shaded path until you reach Harlech Road and continue until you eventually arrive back at your starting point, it’s that simple! The route offers shaded seating areas along the way and space for older children to run around so a great stroll for the whole family. If you really want to stretch those legs, you can hike up the Peak to the starting point from either the Morning Trail or up Old Peak Road.

photo by: Peter Milton

for little legs

day out for the whole family. The area boasts a range of restaurants so you can fuel up before setting off. From the car park and bus terminus, head past the public toilets and through a BBQ area towards the water. Take a left and then follow the cycle path on Tai Mei Tuk Road, where there is a slight hill before you reach the entrance of the dam. The dam is paved and flat, stretching over 2km, so perfect for strollers and first-time MAKE DAY OF A cyclists. Be warned that the dam is IT very popular on weekends. Plover Cove Country Park.

Plover Cove Time: 1.5 hours Plover Cove is a scenic dam surrounded by water, overlooking Shatin and makes for a great

Baby Guide | 23


Home is where the air pollution is Amelia Sewell discusses those things that only Hong Kong parents will understand


any things about having a baby are universal issues, affecting parents in every corner of the world. But there are a couple which are specific to living in this part of Southeast Asia, and some which are Hong Kong specific. So here are a couple of things to consider if you are new to being parents or are fresh off the boat on Hong Kong’s shores.

Air quality

of in order to make it a little safer for small people with curious minds. Firstly, check that the windows can be ‘locked’ so that they only open to a very narrow gap. For those lucky enough to have a balcony, give some thought to the fact that your lovely outdoor furniture is now a potential climbing frame for adventurous children to start scaling the railings.

This is not a jolly topic for the residents of Hong Kong, where the air quality is renowned for being about as clean as a pig in the proverbial. There are a number of guilty parties and while most people point the finger of blame straight in China’s direction, that is not the whole story; Hong Kong also has outrageously high traffic density - allegedly the world’s highest - which, together with our coal burning power plants (and the smog coming over from China’s factories), makes for a veritable quagmire of abysmal air quality. For little lungs that are still developing, this level of air pollution can be a real problem. Like many other children in Hong Kong, we started to notice that our son would develop a cough out of nowhere on particularly bad pollution days. A trip to Fortress produced an air purifier and we now run that in his room constantly to try to keep the worst at bay during sleeping hours. But being realistic, there is only so much a high street air purifier can do. Some people choose to keep their children inside on days when the app flashes a warning signal; others have faith in the hospital facemasks. Whatever you choose, most parents have to slightly make their peace with the fact that poor air quality is one of the downsides to living in this otherwise fabulous city.

Apartment dwellers For the majority, living like sardines in cramped apartments is part of Hong Kong life. And once you have children, there are a few booby traps to apartment living which you need to be aware

24 | Baby Guide

country is or where they spend significant holiday time. For example, the Meningitis B vaccine is not regularly required for Hong Kong children, as the virus is relatively uncommon in this part of the world. However, children in the UK are now given the vaccine as standard after a series of outbreaks and fatalities. Therefore, if you are likely to spend a prolonged period of time in the UK, doctors advise that you vaccinate in line with the British schedule in order to ensure your child is covered when visiting. Other countries will have similar scenarios so do keep up to date with what they recommend. (And word to the wise – to start a debate about vaccinations on the Hong Kong Moms Facebook group is to take your life into your own hands. You have been warned. Keep vaccination questions for the doctor or people you know, unless you want to open a can of internet worms).

Helper relationships

Lastly, once your toddler is on the move, you will also want to check that your front door is locked or on the latch at all times. Not long ago, I nipped off for a quick shower, leaving my two year old playing with his toys. I returned minutes later to discover that he had gotten bored, opened the door, wandered into the hallway, pressed the button for the lift and was moments from heading off on an adventure to God knows which floor. Every day is a learning day – the door is now on the chain at all times.

Vaccinations Hong Kong has its own recommended vaccination schedule relevant to living in this part of the world. In addition to this, parents may want to look into getting some additional injections depending on where their home

Our first helper started working for us a month before our son was born. She was the sweetest person imaginable and could always be relied on to do the right thing. Nonetheless, when I came home from hospital with our precious newborn, the combination of being a new mother together with post-pregnancy hormones meant that I wouldn’t let her anywhere near the baby. Mercifully, we eventually found our rhythm; my lunacy - and hormones - gradually subsided over a few weeks (and our fantastic helper was wonderfully patient with me throughout) but the point is to be aware that the helper-motherbaby relationship is a fine balance and needs to be managed carefully. We are desperately lucky to have such extraordinarily levels of domestic help but there can be obstacles that need to be overcome. So my advice is to try to see any problems far off, recognise them when they arrive, address them gently – and most importantly, be compassionate to your helper who is probably tiptoeing around you, trying to figure out what the right thing is to do.

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WHO WILL HE BECOME? A nurturing environment for future learners At Woodland, our imaginative play based programmes encourage children to be curious whilst developing character, gross motor, language and social skills. When it comes to helping your child reach their full potential, we leave no stone unpainted or unturned. We aspire to imbue creativity, confidence, and an innate love of learning within your child; essential attributes for a child growing up in the modern world. From 6 months to 6 years | English, Mandarin and Bilingual | Montessori and Traditional Learning

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