Then and now
I grew up in Birmingham and moved down to London after uni. In 2013, while I was pregnant with our first child, my husband was offered the opportunity to move to Hong Kong on secondment. I’d always wanted to live and work abroad though I’d never really considered Asia… Once our daughter was four months old, we swapped East London for the Far East.

I’m a massive creature of comfort, so my biggest fear was that having established a wonderful network of mum-friends through NCT and other local groups, I’d have to start all over again. Though this was a necessary evil, I was amazed by the ease with which I was able to slip into the very well established mummy network here.

After a quick post on, a HK-based expat forum for parents, I met a lovely lady who the very next day showed me the ropes. By the end of that week I was fully ensconced in a range of activities including a renowned mum and baby group in a local cathedral (particularly good for networking with other Brits), as well as ‘buggy fit’ on the other side of the island. People have been really welcoming so there’s always a playdate, lunch or birthday party to go to as well as things we’re used to at home like rhyme time, baby yoga and baby massage.

A world apart
One of the biggest surprises to me was how revered babies are here. The Chinese adore babies so my daughter behaves as though she’s a minor celebrity, smiling and waving everywhere we go. Black people are in a minority here which makes her even more of a novelty.

Space is a rare commodity so Chinese families typically have a maximum of two children who are doted on by the entire family. It’s not uncommon to see parents and grandparents all tending to one child in public, or carrying their school bags for them.

Childcare is completely different to the UK. Day nurseries for under-threes are uncommon; instead families typically employ one of the army of domestic helpers, usually Filipino or Indonesian, who live in (the HK government made this mandatory a few years ago) and act as full-time nannies, cooks and cleaners. Coming from a big family with lots of available help in the UK and the expectation that my daughter would go to a curriculum-based nursery at a year old, that’s one of the things that took some getting used to.

The other thing I wasn’t prepared for is almost permanent baby-carrying to go anywhere. Though we brought our buggy with us, we’ve almost never used it as living in the city means it’s easier to get around without it. At least it means I don’t need a gym membership, carrying over a stone around every day is great cardio!

Highs and lows
Breastfeeding in public is more of a challenge here than in the UK. Though there is clearly a concerted effort to encourage more women to do it, there are no breastfeeding facilities so you’re expected to go to the nearest loo if you’re caught short while out or wear one of those aprons. Not ideal. Maternity leave is short here though (around four months) so that may be part of the reason why bottle-feeding is so common.

We arrived at the tail end of summer with temperatures in the high 20s – this was a massive shock after coming from the low teens, so my suitcase was full of jumpers. I’ve been told that at the height of summer as a result of the humidity it’s like ‘walking through hot soup’ so I’m bracing myself for that.

One of the best things for my daughter about being here is the exposure to different cultures while she’s still tiny. She’s enrolled in baby Mandarin, has friends from multiple nationalities, and one of her first fruits was “lychee”. She’s taking it all in her stride.

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