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Everything posted by Katrina

  1. I found this article on Shanghai Daily, but it seems the link is not longer working so I posted here. NEARLY a third of yoga mats tested by the city’s quality watchdog were found to contain excessive plasticizer — a substance, typically a solvent, added to a synthetic resin to produce or promote flexibility and to reduce brittleness. All the mats tested had emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), a major contributor to air pollution that also can cause harm to people’s health, authorities warned yesterday. The Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau tested 30 batches of yoga mats bought online as well as from actual stores and found nine batches had excessive phthalates, which can cause such effects as decrease of sperm, testicular cancer, liver and kidney damage, and increase the risk of breast cancer. All of the 30 batches of yoga mats had VOC emission, according to the bureau. People were likely to suffer from headache, vomiting, weakness, and convulsions when the concentration of VOC reaches a high level indoors, and the liver, kidney, brain and nervous system could also be harmed, doctors warned. China has no specific standards set for yoga mats, and the inspection results were based on American standards and other relevant standards in China, according to the bureau, which did not reveal who had produced the tested yoga mats. The bureau said it had forwarded the result to China’s top quality watchdog for consideration of setting a standard. “Many people use yoga mats as camping mats or for children to play, and most businesses claimed their yoga mats are totally safe and eco-friendly, which misleads consumers,” said Shen Weimin, deputy director of the bureau. “Yoga mats are not suitable to be used by children,” he said, adding people should put newly bought yoga mats in areas of good ventilation for several days before use. The bureau has ordered yoga mat producers and outlets selling them to improve quality control and eliminate safety hazards.
  2. Expecting a baby is daunting for every new mother, and living in a city far from home adds to the stress. But rest assured, giving birth
in Shanghai is a well-worn path and there is plenty of expertise on
Your insurance will likely determine which maternity hospitals to shortlist. Insurance packages differ widely, so read the fine print. It is crucial to obtain maternity coverage 10-12 months before a baby is born. 
Liaise with your insurer and the hospital to determine whether direct billing is an option, or if upfront payment is required. If you have an un-expected pregnancy, with no maternity coverage, it is recommended to insure the baby from birth. 
How to choose a hospital in Shanghai. Expectant moms today are well-read, well-versed and internet Savvy, remaining up-to-date on current technologies, services and procedures. Select a medical provider who stays abreast of medical advances and trends and also provides caring services to ensure your expectations are met. 
Key criteria for choosing a birthing hospital: A strong medical team that follows evidence-based international medical protocols, such as those by the American College of Pediatrics and OBGYN, and provides a strong emphasis on a non-invasive birth. “In Shanghai, C-sections account for 60-75% of deliveries in local hospitals, compared with 30-40% at international hospitals. Discuss medical intervention with your doctor, and provide a birth plan
 An on-site neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), so that both parents and baby can remain together if the baby requires intensive care. Be aware that babies may still be transferred to a specialist pediatric hospital, like the Children’s Hospital of Fudan university, for any major complications. 
A complete continuum of care, including prenatal classes, knowledgeable and caring midwives, board-certified obstetricians and pediatricians. And breastfeeding support staff. Giving birth at a local Chinese hospital There are 3, 600 maternity beds in hospitals across the city equipped to manage up to 250, 000 births every year, according to the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission. However, given that Shanghai's family planning regulations changed in March 2014, allowing couples to have a second child if either of them were an only child, the city is preparing for a baby boom. An extra 20,000 to 30,000 newborns are expected per year between 2014-16, with an estimated 200, 000 babies to be born annually in the city. A record 239, 600 babies were born in Shanghai in 2012, the auspicious Year of the Dragon. 
According to Gerald Ang, General Manager of Raffles Medical Shanghai, which provides prenatal and antenatal care for patients delivering at local hospitals, the number one tip for those planning to deliver at a local hospital is to book early.-Maternity services are in heavy demand in Shanghai, especially the VIP wards of the well-regarded hospitals. 
What to expect at a local hospital Those delivering at local hospitals, in the VIP wing or regular ward, should expect vast cultural differences and limited English-language support. C-sections are common and breastfeeding support may be minimal. Typically, private rooms at Chinese hospitals have a small sofa, intended for an ayi or your mother-in-law, not your husband.
 While international hospitals come at a price, many women find familiarity during birth invaluable. 
Prenatal Support
 Prenatal classes Most international hospitals host prenatal childbirth classes that provide information about pregnancy and childbirth, and address the physical, psychological and emotional challenges that a family may face during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Check whether classes are included in the hospital's prenatal package. The second trimester is an ideal time to attend. Yoga is hugely popular among expectant moms, with programs offered across the city. Many of the yoga studios offering prenatal yoga also offer post-natal, baby, and "mom and me" yoga classes. 
Create a network of support
 - The importance of having a strong network of support during pregnancy can't be underestimated. Making friendships during that time will give mothers connections with others who will be going through similar challenges and milestones at the same time. Establish regular coffee mornings and playgroups, which provide ongoing opportunities for socializing for both mothers and children. 
Many mothers have found invaluable support from the forum Shanghai mamas, which offers opportunities to connect, ask advice, share stories and experiences, and meet a diverse community of families and friends. Postnatal Support Breastfeeding support For those planning to breastfeed, join a breastfeeding support group prior to delivery and learn about successful lactation. According to certified
lactation consultant and la leche league volunteer leader Melanie Ham,"Support groups teach normal infant behaviors and feeding patterns, while connecting new moms with a network of others who share tips, tricks and strategies for integrating breastfeeding into daily life. New mothers need encouragement, education and time to help them develop confidence and enjoy a positive breastfeeding experience.
 "A lactation consultant is an allied health care worker who liaises with the mother's doctor and the baby's pediatrician to create a lactation care plan designed to help the family achieve their breastfeeding goals. Many hospitals inadvertently sabotage breastfeeding through prolonged separation of mother and baby, improper positioning,and prematurely introducing formula. Attending a support group or hiring a lactation consultant such as lunabelle lactation can help families avoid these challenges. 
Emotional support
 New mothers who experience postpartum depression can access
resources and support through shanghai douta. A douta is a trained child birth attendant who provides non-medical support to women and couples during pregnancy, labor and birth (day or night, for as long as it takes). She provides physical, emotional and informational support as needed. Studies show that when labor is supported by a douta, women experience a decreased risk of medical intervention and C-section, and an increased likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth and overall satisfaction of childbirth. 
A yuesao is a nanny who cares for both mother and baby in the first months after birth. Most yuesao live-in, maintaining the same schedule as the baby and providing To und-the-clock care. Duties of a yuesao may include breastfeeding assistance, changing and bathing the baby, administering night feeds, checking the mother's postnatal progress, and preparing special foods and soups to nourish the mother and promote milk supply.
  3. Here is my list of Maternity Hospitals in Shanghai, the list is always growing and I welcome you to add other hospitals and your experiences to this post. Redleaf Hospital Offers gynecology, obstetrics, newborn care, pediatrics & postpartum recovery services that adhere to the highest international standards. 105 beds and 178 on-site parking spaces. C-section rate: Most clients choose vaginal delivery. Cost: Prenatal Package: 23,000 RMB Natural Delivery: 73,000 RMB C-section: 110,000 RMB Prenatal packages includes check-ups from 12 weeks, initial & follow-up consultations, 15+ types of lab tests, ultrasound, fetal non-stress tests, & down syndrome screening tests. Individual services avaliable. Pain relief: Yes, epidural and other pain relief available. Midwife present: Yes Water Births: Yes NICU: Newborn special care nursery is available on site, for intensive care, new-borns will be transferred to Children's Hospital of Fudan University. Prenatal Classes: Available on-site in English & Chinese. Breastfeeding Support: Yes Parkway Health International team of 80+ doctors and specialists offering premium medical services including family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics & gynecology. C-section rate: 40% Cost: Prenatal: Between 15,000 RMB - 25,000 RMB Natural Delivery: 60,000 RMB C-section: 98,000 RMB Prenatal packages: Available from 12 or 16 weeks. Includes blood tests, ultrasounds, genetic screenings and doctor consultations. Individual services available. Pain relief: Epidural (locally made) not included in the delivery package. Midwife present: Midwife is always present during labor. Water Births: No NICU: Birthing center equipped with an incubator for pre-term babies with no other complications, newborns are transferred to Fudan Hospital's NICU. Prenatal Classes: Available on-site in English. Breastfeeding Support: Yes
  4. American-Sino OB GYN, Pediatrics Services Providing a comprehensive array of on-site services for women and children, including obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics, by certified specialists from overseas and China. C-section rate: 40% Cost: Prenatal Care: 20,000 RMB Normal Vaginal Delivery: 45,000 RMB C-Section: 70,000 RMB Pain relief: Painless services available. Midwife present: Yes Water Births: Yes in cooperation with ASOG International Hospital. NICU: On site in ASOG International Hospital. Prenatal Classes: English & Chinese classes are available, including yoga, postnatal pilates. Breastfeeding Support: Yes ASOG offers professional breastfeeding support.
  5. Shanghai East International Medical Center US-China joint venture providing a full range of world-class services including family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology and on-site 24-hour emergency services. C-section rate: Below 30% Cost: Prenatal care from 12 weeks: 25,000 RMB / from 24 weeks 15,000 RMB Normal Vaginal Delivery: 62,000 RMB / Operative Vaginal Delivery: 72,000 RMB C-section: 86,000 RMB Prenatal packages available during trimester 1 or 2, Packages start at 12 & 24 weeks & cover all consultations and check-ups until birth. Individual services available up to 24 weeks. Pain relief: Epidural (locally manufactured) on-call support from anesthesiologist. Midwife present: Yes Water Births: No, but a bathtub is available. NICU: No, Has a partnership with Shanghai Children's Medical Center for emergencies. Prenatal Classes: CPR & First Aid, Prenatal Available on-site in English & Chinese. Breastfeeding Support: Yes Shanghai United Family Hospital Medical hospital offering a wide range of medical services with international standard treatment. Offers an English-speaking emergency department operating 24/7. C-section rate: 30% Cost: Check the website for current prices. Pain relief: Natural pain relief, Entonox, epidural all available. Midwife present: Yes Water Births: Available by patient providing equipment. NICU: Yes. Prenatal Classes: Both English & Chinese classes are available. Breastfeeding Support: Yes, Daily lactation consulting services, midwife clinic for breastfeeding. LLL meeting on-site.
  6. Maybe it’s the heat, the change of seasons, or the phase of the moon, but sleeping has been a real problem lately. Having unsettled children bailing on their own beds, then tossing and turning throughout the night in our bed has turned into a real pain in the neck, literally. Somehow my partner managed to wake up, after a particularly troublesome kids-in-the-bed night, with his head wedged between the bed and the bedside chest of drawers. To say his neck was sore was putting it mildly — or at least the volume of his suffering indicated regular pain killers were not up to the task of relieving such an injury. Prior to coming here, he would have headed straight to his local physiotherapist. However, when in China…. So, with a note written by a colleague, on which she promised she wrote ”this man has a sore neck” in Chinese, he headed off to a Traditional Chinese Medicine hospital. And now, he’s hooked. The neck pain has totally abated after two follow-up visits — but I’m convinced he really kept returning more for the experience than the treatment. On his first visit he says he was, rather fortunately, claimed by a nurse who asked him to pay 15 Yuan, and led him to the sore neck and back room. It was a room in an old, high-ceilinged building about 8m wide x 20 m long, packed with eight treatment beds, four medicos (a guess as they were wearing white coats) 22 patients, two children and a microwave in the middle of the room that constantly binged, alerting nurses that their bowls of reheated noodles were ready. Of the beds, the two in the back corner were equipped with some kind of stretching contraption and there sat a couple of grimacing Chinese people seemingly hog-tied and suffering in silence. There didn’t appear to be a queue system in operation, so he followed the locals and, when the opportunity came, planted his backside on one of the numerous little stools around the room …. and waited. It was like going to a barbecue without the beer, meat or fire. Everyone was on for a chat, they walked around in their underpants in readiness for treatment (do not take this comment as necessarily indicative of every barbecue we throw) and there appeared to be equal parts of animated bitching and laughing (probably about my partner). He took to describing the medicos as Elvis, the Gangster, the Scientist and the Kid. Elvis is his guy. He is kind of smooth looking with perfect hair, a belly like a marshmallow and hands and forearms Superman would be proud of. In halting English he revealed to my partner that he works 15 hours a day, six days a week and he likes Australian cookies (we took the hint). The Scientist is a woman in her mid 40s who always wears a long white coat, has her hair up in a clip and has black rimmed glasses. She always looks a bit crazed and flustered. The Kid is kind of smiley and jibbery. But the Gangster is his favorite. He is craggy and weather-beaten and looks like one of those blokes who are a Mafia henchman, only he’s Chinese. His favorite massage trick is to get a sausage-like apparatus that looks akin to a door snake (perhaps known elsewhere as a draft excluder) and whack people with it. It’s all part of his treatment. The brave patients allow themselves a little squeal which elicits no sympathy whatsoever. It must be hard work, all that rubbing and whacking, as the other day the Gangster stopped work, pulled out a smoke and fired it up – in the middle of the “surgery’’. So there he was drawing heavily on his cigarette, sipping a cup of tea, blowing smoke around the room and giving someone a bit of a neck rub with one hand, all at the same time. My partner says he tried in vain to picture that going in an Australian physiotherapy room. And then, with my partner still waiting his turn, an electrician got in on the action. After finding some dodgy wiring in a broken air conditioning unit, he wandered across the room and started talking to the multi-skilling Gangster. Of course the situation degenerated into a Chinese shout-fest. The electrician was waving dirty wiring around with his filthy hands; the Gangster was firing back at a thousand miles and hour while never missing a beat on the person he was treating, who then bought into the argument herself. The electrician, duly rebuked on the finer points of electrical wiring by the masseuse and his patient, eventually wandered off back to his corner just missing stepping into the puddle of wee one of the children had left as a calling card in the middle of the floor. Never start a nappy business here in China. My partner finally got his turn with Elvis. He reported that the TCM treatment was terrific and really made a difference. He went back twice and, for possibly the first time ever in which he’s required a course of treatment, never missed an appointment. I’m almost looking forward to getting a sore neck.
  7. Pudong or Puxi?

    One of the resounding questions common amongst expatriates prior to their move is “which side of the river to live – Pudong or Puxi?”. Whilst it often boils down to where you or your husband may work, as well as proximity to preferred schools, it is often hard to find photos of the different areas on offer within Shanghai. Prior to our ‘look-see’ trip I was fifteen weeks pregnant, a little apprehensive about the move, and would have loved one of my numerous Internet searches of Pudong to return something more than a picture of The Oriental Pearl Tower. I hope these photos provide a good glimpse of one area in Pudong. They concentrate on the Century Park area, which is home to the Shanghai Oriental Art Centre, The Science and Technology Museum, the market which is commonly referred to as “The Fake Goods Market”, a new retail complex and of course the park itself. The park offers a large expanse of greenery that for a small entry fee attracts many locals who take advantage of the lake activities, well maintained gardens and the green grass as they escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Everyone needs to make their own decision about the place in which they will fit best however I hope this may help other Mamas and Mamas-to-be visualize just one small piece of Shanghai.
  8. Congratulations on the birth of your baby Here are some hints on obtaining a passport for your child: • Unless you are a Chinese citizen, your baby is not a Chinese citizen and therefore must have their own passport from your home country. • Passport photos are needed with baby’s eyes open (you need about 6 photos). • Prior to delivery, check with your Consulate office regarding their requirements. • Some embassies will simply ask you to make an application at your embassy for the passport, but other embassies require for the Birth Certificate to be “translated” and certified/notarized by the Shanghai Notary Public office. • Other embassies may need you to also “authenticate” details. For this you need to go to the Shanghai Foreign Affairs Service Center. Registration in “Home Country” It is suggested to register your baby’s birth in your home country as well. This may make it easier to obtain a copy of the birth record when repatriated, in the case of a lost original document. More information (definitions): What does it mean to authenticate a document? An authentication is the certification of the genuineness of a signature of a notary or government official. Documents that may require an authentication include legal instruments notarized by foreign notaries. To permit authentication, a Chinese notary public office at city or county level must first notarize the documents (Example: birth certificates). Then, the foreign affairs office of the provincial government, which has jurisdiction over the city where the documents were notarized, should authenticate the documents. Once that has been done, the consular officer can authenticate the signature of the provincial foreign affairs official. Certification of True Copies: A document that has been verified as a complete and accurate reproduction of an original
  9. Living in a foreign country can be stressful. Expecting a baby can be stressful. When you combine the two, you can easily stop enjoying either one. Since moving to Shanghai with my husband in August of 2006, I have been looking to use my experience as a Labor and Delivery nurse to help couples who are expecting Shanghai babies to avoid unnecessary stress. For a start, I’ve done research (both online and by word of mouth) on the options women currently have for delivering their babies in Shanghai, and I’ve learned what to expect or, in many cases, what not to expect from the hospitals and clinics we have to choose from. As a perinatal educator at Parkway Healthcare (formerly World Link), I’ve listened to the concerns of expectant parents about the lack of organized resources available here. Although there is plenty of information on the internet for moms and dads-to-be, it still can be challenging to sort through everything. And even if you do, it is another question which options and resources would be available to you in Shanghai. As a result, I decided to create this post in order to share information with expectant parents in Shanghai in hopes of making your pregnancy, labor and delivery experience a positive and memorable one. What to bring to the hospital Lets be reasonable, for most women, you are only going to be in the hospital for less than 5 days total (avg stay is 2-3 days after delivery). PACK LIGHT is my motto. 2 bags: one for the labor room and one for the hospital room. Leave your second bag in the car. Your husband or partner can bring more stuff in later. Before you leave for the hospital Lots of moms-to-be (and friends of moms - hint hint): prep and freeze food so they don't have to worry about shopping, cooking, etc. after they get home with baby. For the Labor Room You can pack this bag early and keep it in the hall closet or trunk of the car. A knapsack or overnight bag is large enough. Multimedia – If you have an MP3 player, bring that with a diverse selection – from classical to Grateful Dead to African drums to chanting; Create your own birthing CD. Also check to see if they have a wireless internet connection that you can tap into while there. May be easier getting in touch with relatives and sending out first photos and less expensive than trying to call everyone at weird international hours. Relax – Try to visualize your ideal relaxing environment. Bring powders, lotions or oils for massage. A good room scent like Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint. Bring a tennis ball or plastic rolling pin for firm counter-pressure massage in case of back labor. Camera – Please check with your hospital if you are able to take pictures or video of the actual birth. Warm socks and/or a sweater – Many women complain of being cold (or hot for that matter) during labor, whatever you bring know that it may get stained, dirty or just be willing to throw it away after labor. If you want to wear a sports bra or tank top, make sure it has no metal parts (ie underwire or fasteners, etc). Don’t wear jewelry if at all possible – in rare cases you may need to have an emergency c-section, some equipment in the OR may use electricity, so you do not want anything that can conduct current. Wedding rings can be worn on a long necklace and/or your husband can hold on to it for safe keeping. A washcloth – Although the hospital might provide you with one, it's not a bad idea to bring your own. Lollipops or other small candies – Once you are in active labor, medical staff usually wants to avoid giving you any food (your digestion slows down in labor and increases the possibility of nausea and vomiting – which you may get anyway and is normal. Therefore, bringing in sugarless lollipops or hard candy won't make you too thirsty, but any lollipop will help keep your mouth moist and provide you with energy. Favorite snacks – Most of the hospitals in Shanghai that Westerners deliver at have mini-fridges in the rooms. Make sure you and your partner pack a little nourishment (they may let you eat in early labor). Please remind your partner to eat, although they are trying to focus on you (for good reason), a partner who faints is not going to be very helpful. Also, bring a few dollars and a Sherpa’s delivery menu if you are not fond of the food selections they offer you. Bring a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider to celebrate after the delivery if you want! A list of telephone numbers – It's amazing how easily everything else is forgotten when your baby is placed in your arms for the first time, and you'll have plenty of friends and relatives waiting for the announcement. A focal point – If there is an image you particularly like, such as a still-life painting or a nature photograph, bring it with you to focus on during labor. You may find that it helps you get through contractions. Keep the size reasonable. For the Hospital Room In the hospital after labor and delivery A sweater or nightgown – After a shower, you might want to wear something of your own rather than a revealing hospital gown. Again, be warned that whatever you bring can get dirty. Toiletries – Check what the hospital provides so you don’t have to lug your electric toothbrush, etc.. Even if you are not ready for a shower soon after the delivery, it is amazing how good you feel by just putting on your own deodorant and brushing your teeth. Sanitary napkins – The hospital will provide you with sanitary napkins, but you might want to pack your own. Buy something comfortable and designed to handle very heavy flow. A pillow and blanket for Dad – If your partner wants to stay overnight, he'll likely have a recliner or cot to sleep on, but linens are hard to come by. Bring some items to make his limited space a little more cozy. Something to pass the time – You will probably be busy and in awe of this new little baby and when baby is sleeping, you really should sleep; however, remember to stay relaxed and if that means packing a deck of cards or your knitting, then go for it. More snacks – Hospital food is notorious for causing constipation. Packs of raisins, nuts or whole-wheat crackers will help keep you regular. Going-home outfits – You'll still be sporting a sizeable belly (your uterus doesn't go back down to pre-pregancy size for about 6 weeks), so don't pack those pre-pregnancy jeans just yet. Bring something that was comfortable when you were about 6 months pregnant. A going-home outfit for baby should be comfortable as well. Bring a kimono or stretch suit, undershirt, booties and a hat. Make sure you have a receiving blanket and heavy bunting blanket if it's cold. Diapers will most likely be provided by the hospital, but bring a few just in case. Car seat – You can't take your baby home without one, so don't forget it! Well, in China you probably can, but better that you have one. Packing won't take you much time, but putting it off until the day you go into labor is a recipe for disaster and disorganization. Compile what you want to bring to the labor room and your hospital room long before you need to worry about it. Tell your partner where to find your bags and which bag is for which room. After you've finished packing, you can go re-fold those baby clothes one more time.
  10. We’ve been away from Shanghai for two weeks. And have now come home. It is the first time we have ever referred to Shanghai as home. It’s something I wasn’t entirely sure would ever happen. It wasn’t that we desperately missed China — lounging on white sandy beaches, spending hours in the sea, exploring rock pools, riding elephants, and eating terrific Thai curries after days-end cocktails beside the water are wonderful ways to while away a fortnight. But when it was time for the holiday to end, we all were quite happy to board the plane back to China, our home. It is a grand adjustment. Instead of mentally comparing holiday beaches to Australian beaches, foreign wildlife to Australian wildlife and holiday prices to Australian prices, all of a sudden we found ourselves inadvertently thinking in Chinese comparisons. I caught myself comparing fresh spring rolls with the ones my Ayi taught me to make. Matching fabrics and tailoring prices with what I could get at Lu Jiabang Lu. And, while I heard other tourists complaining about odd smells wafting from street alleys and drains, I found myself smiling as my nostrils transported me back to the streets of Jing’an. I am probably most amazed that it has only taken six months to be able to call China our home. It is a feeling that has snuck up on us all. Even my three-year-old daughter who has spent six months expressing her homesickness in strident, though amusing, ways such as refusing to eat anything but Australian food, ‘‘like spaghetti,’’ and trying to each the Ayi to speak Australian, said she was happy to be home. It’s been an upheaval for us all. But now we are home. And after a short break, it feels surprisingly right.
  11. Many parents want children to be generous, courteous and cooperative. They want their children to be sharing people. Sharing is a life long process that we go through. It is one of those areas in life that we constantly need to evaluate, define and negotiate. Sharing may involve objects, emotions, space, the people in our lives, and parts of who we are. Yet we forget this when we expect toddlers to share their toys, space and the important adults in their lives with others. We also forget that the society we live in is mostly geared towards competition, individualism, ownership and personal worth. Remember that sharing as a concept is something that is freely offered and not forced. Sharing ultimately must come from the individual internally rather than forced from the outside. Sharing comes up as children begin to actively interact with other children. This usually happens in the early toddler years. We need to be sure that our expectations of sharing are in tune to where a toddler is developmentally. There are several factors that need to be present in order for sharing to be possible. First, in order to share what is yours you must be able to understand what is actually yours. This is a difficult concept for toddlers who are exploring the worlds of “me” and “mine”. Toddlers must first have a sense of themselves as separate individuals from others. Remember that toddlers have very recently started to learn to do many things on their own. They are also in a stage of development where they have definite ideas about who they are and what they can do. They realize how powerful “me” and “mine” are. These words are huge and dominant in the vocabulary of most toddlers. Yet they are still exploring what this means tangibly. Toddlers often define who they are by what is theirs, “this is my truck”, “this is my shovel”, or “this is my mom”. At times, toddlers think that an object is theirs because they are holding or touching it. They do not realize that when someone else is playing with their toy then it will not be the other child’s forever, or gone from them forever. Children must also learn to posses before they can share. In the same developmental stage of understanding what is mine, a toddler’s task is to get and then to keep. Starting to understand what it means to keep sometimes and let go sometimes will help a child begin to willingly share. Children need to know that there is enough to go around. The toddler who is grabbing all the shovels at the sand box does not have the concept of numbers and “enough for everyone”. Giving children lots of experiences of there being enough can help them understand that there is in fact enough many times. Having more than one of the same toy or same kind of toy helps to support this concept. When working on this concept, it is helpful to concentrate on neutral playthings, such as lots of cups, paintbrushes, snacks, play dough, or containers. Children also need to develop a sense of time such as “later”, “after snack”, “before nap”. Having a sense of time allows a child to take turns, also a part of sharing. It begins to allow a toddler to understand that if they let a toy go, it can come back to them later. Another element to sharing is the development of empathy. Empathy starts to occur in the early stages of infancy as one infant cries when he hears another cry. However, toddlers are still developing a sense of understanding that someone else has feelings that are separate from others. We can support toddler development of empathy by teaching children to be aware of feelings, their own and others. When children are taught to listen and respond to their own feelings and they are used to others listening and respecting their feelings, empathy happens naturally. With a sense of empathy, children start to be aware of other people’s needs and wants, both concepts of sharing. When sharing is forced, the control of the situation is being taken away from the toddler. Toddlers are struggling with having control and independence. If control is taken out of our power, we begin to feel helpless and feel the need to protect. Sometimes you will see a toddler hoarding every toy in sight. They get so focused by ownership that the main focus becomes defending all that is theirs regardless of whether they want to play with it or not. Here are some strategies for fostering sharing in toddlers: Model sharing in your life with others and with your child. Express values about sharing throughout your parenting. Share not only objects but also yourself (your time, love, affection, talents) with others. Children will value that these are also important to share. Respect your child’s needs (some things can’t be shared, we all have those things). Sharing is an abstract concept; make it more concrete by giving toddlers specific and tangible cues. “You can play with the blue truck and Jae can play with the red one. You both have a truck to play with”. Think about the play environment. Meet in neutral territory like the park. Hold off having play dates at your house if things are really difficult and try again at a later date. You and your child can decide together what things you will put away before a play date. Have more than one of the same types of object when you have a play date. If your child insists on keeping something, try to find something together that the other child can play with. Discuss difficult sharing situations with your child. Take advantage of a learning moment. Talk about what you see, what your child and their friend are feeling and possible solutions. Give children language about what is happening. Acknowledge positive efforts at sharing, such as when a child spontaneously shares with others.
  12. My husband moved to Shanghai for his job. I moved to Shanghai to travel. In the pre-baby days, we organized our vacation time down to the minute. We analyzed each of our allotted holidays, layered them over our given time-off, and maximized each minute. We jumped planes all over the world. We spent no more than 3 days in any given city. We walked everywhere. We slept as little as possible. And within hours of the plane hitting the ground in our home town, we were back at our desks earning cash for the next plane trip. And then baby #1 came along. And then baby #2 came along. And the plane trips came to a screeching halt. With both babies born and sleeping through the night, our feet began to itch again. And rather than plane hop from the states with two babies in tow, we just up and moved to China. And every holiday and vacation day we get, we’ll either be on the road or in the air. But, as you’ve all realized, traveling with little ones takes a lot of planning and a very different style. I’ll share every child-friendly establishment I find, and every destination worth your time and trouble. I’ll explain any tricks for keeping kids happy en route, and any products worth their price tag.