After we booked our plane tickets for my little girls first trip abroad, I received a baby milestone update for my 9 month old detailing why it’s a horrible time to travel. Great. Those things aren’t always right, my baby is usually ahead of milestones anyways. Nope, traveling to China with a 9 month old is pretty darn awful.
Let’s start with the clinginess. Pretty much as soon as we got to the airport, I started holding baby girl about 2o+ hours a day. This really isn’t an exaggeration, except that time includes being slept on. She refused anyone else, including her father, and clung. I have to ask for bathroom breaks where she cries in the arms of someone else for a few minutes. I love my baby girl and I love holding her and squeezing those chubby thighs. She is also 23 lbs of squirmy weight so I don’t actually want to hold her all the time. The surroundings are new and there are lots of strangers around so she’s scared and wants mama.
Baby food. 9 months is the fun stage where she is kind of moving past baby food and on to table foods. We did bring baby food pouches with us and they are also available in China. The pouches we bought are actually sold here for 39 rmb each. I bought them on sale for $1 in the U.S. If you don’t need imported food, I saw some Heinz brand Chinese pouches for much cheaper and then some Chinese brands. Baby girl doesn’t seem interested in the pouches anymore though, and we are traveling all over the place so it’s not all that convent to carry the food. We’ve thrown most of it away because she’ll refuse to eat it and then we won’t be near a refrigerator to store the leftovers.
Table foods. We do mostly baby led weaning at home so she’s familiar with table foods. I’m not familiar enough with whatever is in Chinese restaurant food to give it to my baby though. I feel awful about the food she is eating here because I can’t control the salt and sugar like I can at home. Usually I can find some fresh fruit or cucumbers for her at restaurants or when there’s nothing else, plain noodles or mantou. At my inlaws home, I can trust the food and just rinse the seasonings off with some filtered water. One time I was at a relatives house and poured my husband’s water into a bowl to rise something for baby girl. She seemed happy with her green bean so I thought nothing of it until I realized it was a baijiu glass! Holy crap, always taste your baby’s food before giving it! Thank goodness my husband was actually only drinking water.
Random things people give babies. Chinese people are very generous, especially with children. I just don’t want anything they give my baby. Everywhere we go, someone offers my baby candy or a cheap plastic toy with disco lights that plays some remix of the song “my little apple.” It doesn’t matter what kind of toy it is, it lights up and makes noise and will inevitably break within a week or a day. I don’t want my baby girl putting either the plastic toys or the age inappropriate snacks in her mouth. It’s like a battle of wills turning down these gifts.
Breastfeeding. That’s kind of awkward here. No one has said anything or even acted weird about it, but people just don’t nurse in public and also don’t nurse 9 month year olds. With no personal space, it gets awkward.
I want to enjoy my vacation too, and I thought I’d get a break with all of our relatives around, but that’s not the case. I try to be relaxed about parenting but I feel like I have to be more watchful. I can’t socialize at all at night when she’s sleeping either because she wakes up if I’m not there. She has some sort of super sensory ability that wakes her up if I’m not nearby and no one else can calm her with her current clingyness. Maybe it would have been easier if she were a little younger or older, or maybe not.