second time mom

First Time vs. Second Time Mom in China: A Brief Comparison

Being a first time mom in China

Strangers upon seeing me carry baby in a sling:

“You can’t carry your baby like this. It’s bad for his neck.”

“It’s way too cold for baby to be outside. He’ll get sick!”

Strangers upon hearing we have a car seat for our baby:

“He’ll feel uncomfortable being tucked in a seat in an upright position. You can just hold him in the rear. It’s safe!”

Being a second time mom in China

Strangers upon seeing me carry baby in a sling and with toddler in tow:

“You really know how to put baby in a sling! We wouldn’t know how to do this correctly.”

“Your toddler son is so healthy. And I see you’ve wrapped up your baby really professionally. You really know what you’re doing.”

Strangers upon hearing that my baby son has his own car seat:

“He is so small and already has his own seat?” Laughing about the thought of it. But also adding with an admiring look: “You are such a thoughtful mother.”

When I took my first born out as a baby, I would get lots of comments criticizing me for taking baby out too young, when the weather wasn’t all hot, or for not bundling him up the “correct” way. I know that many of the comments were meant to show care rather than criticism, but knowing this didn’t help much. I was very conscious of all the comments and although I’d still take my son out, I would also wonder if I actually did endanger his health by doing what was considered normal back in my home country (not in case of the car seats, but when taking him out in winter). As a second time mom, not only am I more confident myself, people are also more appreciative of the fact that I parent differently and it still works out. And if they aren’t? I have learned to brush off comments easily. After all, I can vividly imagine how it would be the other way around–what Austrians would say if they saw a baby run around in split baby pants in a public park in Vienna.

How has being a second time mom compared to being a first time mom for you? I’d love to read your comments.

Ruth Silbermayr-Song

Ruth Silbermayr-Song

Ruth Silbermayr-Song writes about life in China as a foreign woman, her cross-cultural marriage to a Chinese man, and child rearing bridging cultures and languages on her blog and as a contributor to Beijing Kids. Her story of pregnancy and parenting in China has appeared in the anthology “Knocked Up Abroad Again”.
Ruth Silbermayr-Song

6 comments

  1. Yes, my husband and I have heard many of these comments when we’d visit his family in Shanghai, when each child was around 1 yr old. When we travelled in 2006 with my firstborn, we clutched her in the back of taxis because few families had personal cars and car seats were not used. By 2014, many families had their own vehicle and car seats were ubiquitous-thank God! I did create quite a stir in Hong Kong in 2014 when I breastfed in public (covered up), a cultural misstep I had not anticipated:)

  2. I don’t understand why people changed their attitude.

    When my children were born in the late 1960s, we didn’t have car seats. I’m not even sure we had seat belts, maybe just lap belts. After my second daughter was born, I was more likely to leave at least one of them with my mom when I went shopping. And with two children, my husband and I each had a child to hold and watch out for. After the third child was born, one of us held the baby, and the other held the hands of both of the older children.

    1. They weren’t common in Austria when my eldest brother and sister were born either.

      I think that they see there’s one bigger child, and he’s healthy (can talk, walk, …), so I must be doing something right. Haha. Not sure if there is also another reason than that.

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