Having A Baby In China

There’s so much to share about living in China…with or without kids! I should have started this blog years ago, but now’s better than never.

First up, I’m going to tackle the subject of having a baby in China. Yes, I know that a lot of Western women go back to their home countries to have their babies (and a lot of Chinese women are going abroad so that their kids get foreign citizenship), but for some of us, it’s far more practical to have them here.

Both of my kids were born here, in local small-town hosptials, and had great care. A different kind of care than you’d get in the West, but we were well taken care of.

Due to the cost of going back to America, plus the fact that I don’t have any sort of health insurance, going back was never an option or came across our radar until I was about 7 months pregnant with my second child. The law is kind of murky about second children, even for foreigners since any child born in China is considered Chinese.  Even after transfering foreign citizenship to your child, in the eyes of the country, the child is still Chinese.

That said, get your baby’s citizenship changed as soon as you can. I had to follow the Chinese practice of zuo yue zi where women can’t leave the house for a period of time, usually a month to 45 days. But I know most couples who are both foreigners and live in Beijing will make the embassy their first stop on their way home from the hospital.

That said, my first piece of advice is to find out what your country requires for transfering citizenship to your baby if he or she is born abroad. The American embassy has different policies depending on if the couple are both Americans, the father is, the mother is, they are married or they’re not married. And remember to check their site throughout your pregnancy. I’m sure they don’t change things all that often, but we did find some significant changes between our first and second child.

In future posts I’ll talk about:

  • the American Embassy regulations
  • prenatal vitamins and radiation smocks
  • prenatal hospital visits
  • birthing classes
  • breast feeding
  • shopping for baby
  • delivery
  • the Chinese zuo yue zi (Moon Month)

Your turn: What questions do you have about having a baby in China? Leave me a note or email me at CharlotteEdwardsZhang (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know.

The Best Books and Flashcards for Learning Chinese

The first book that I used for learning Chinese was Chinese in 10 Minutes A Day.  While I did learn a lot of words and enjoyed the short lessons and activities, I didn’t like that it only used pin yin. That’s not practical for living in China. Hardly anyone over the age of 55 studied it in school and even the teenagers I know often forget the pin yin for words. The only place I regularly see pin yin is in my son’s school books. This new edition is probably more helpful since it includes a CD with audio so you can learn how to speak the words correctly.

If you want to study words on your own, I highly recommend the two 250 Essential Chinese Characters
books. I have the old edition of both the books shown above and the two sets of flashcards. The new sets are aligned with the HSK exam, a Chinese proficiency exam that colleges use to admit foreign students, and have fewer cards per set.


There are now three sets of Chinese character flash cards, each with the cards, a booklet and audio. Be sure to order the paper version, not the Kindle one, if you want the cards! I personally love the cards and wouldn’t use them much, nor would the kids, if they were on the Kindle.

I love that they put as much info on each card as possible. They show both the simplified and traditional characters, plus the stroke order on the front. On the back is the pin yin, the radicals, a sentence with the word and up to four additional words that the character is a part of.
There were several typos and errors in set two of the old edition of Chinese Flash Cards ; I hope they’ve fixed that for their new edition. The reviews on Amazon look great, and the cards are now laminated to resist wear and tear and they come with a ring to clip them all together. I’m pretty sure my sets are missing a few cards because they’ve been lost over time with four people having used them and enduring four moves.
Rather than finishing out my collection with sets three and four (three is super expensive!) I think I’ll just purchase the new ones since they’ll get used for many more years. Also the new set comes with a CD, which the old one didn’t have, and the little booklet is a handy reference tool for looking up words quickly.


I also have Reading & Writing Chinese  which is a nice resource, though I’ve not used it to study from directly. Currently it’s my go-to for finding the meaning of words on my son’s homework. I love the Pleco app, but sometimes it’s just nice to have an old-fashioned book to make notes in.
What are your favorite resources for learning Chinese?
(Affiliate links go to Amazon and won’t change your purchase price, though I do get a small commission.)