Yesterday we had a great mommy-meet up in Shanghai so Genesis and I went on tour! Don’t worry, Genesis is used to taking the train in China by now so she is cool ;-). A lot of the moms on the meet up were wondering how I take Genesis on the train by myself, and so naturally I figured I would share how I do it!
First some China Train Facts:
– For a baby, you do not need a ticket since you can hold your bubs on your lap. Babies and kids travel for free till they are 1.2 meters tall. This makes visiting an embassy for passport application in a different city a whole lot easier!
– You do not need a passport/visa/ID card for your baby.
– Book your ticket online! On Wechat you can now book a train ticket super easy, since its all in English! Upon arrival at the train station, simply pick up your ticket at one of the ticket windows.
– Remember: Chinese people are super help full when it comes to a mom and her baby. Make use of this! For example, if you have a huge stroller, you can go onto the platform (where you normally go through the little gates with your ticket), on the side through a bigger door, so your stroller fits through.
So the first time we took Genesis on the train, she was 3 weeks old. My parents where visiting for 1 month after Gen’s birth, and we all went to Suzhou for 3 days. Later that same week we visited Shanghai for 2 days. Back then, I had Manu and both my parents with me, so it was a whole lot easier. Now by yourself it’s a bit more challenging, yet very doable!
The first time I took Gen on the train by myself, was from Hangzhou to Shanghai (an hour by train), and Genesis was 4 months old. I can highly recommend travelling with a new born on the train! I used my carrier, which made it all a whole lot easier. You have your hands (kinda) free, and babies just love ‘hanging around’, don’t they?! The only problem I had was: the toilet. Going to pee with a baby strapped to you is prrrrretty hard. Try to have a bathroom break before traveling, and don’t drink to much. If the need does occur, don’t worry; You can do it! It just takes a bit of ballet and figuring out how bendy you really are ;-).
Now yesterday I was travelling with an almost 9 month old. It makes it harder because she is super interested in EVERYTHING and very, very active ;-). Hereby my tips and tricks!
– Have a stroller that is not too heavy and can be maneuvered with ease.
– I prefer a stroller where you can face your baby towards you, because its a bit more private (you will have a LOT of people staring anyways!), and at very crowded places, its nice you can reach for your bubs at all times.
– As for parking on the train: On the way to Shanghai, I just parked my stroller in the corridor where you get on the train. It was parked in front of the suitcases rack and the water machine.. sorry, not sorry! I would just stand up every time we would hit a station to see if it was in the way, but it went perfectly fine.
– On the way back, I asked a train steward to hold Genesis just for a minute, so I could fold up the wagon, and when we arrived I asked a lady who was staring and seemed super nice to hold her, to get the stroller ready again. I would recommend this way! Just the feeling that your stroller isn’t in the way you and don’t have to keep an eye on it, makes your journey a whole lot easier!
Bottles and Diapers:
– Prepare bottles while your baby is still on the stroller before your board the train (in case of bottle feeders). This meant I made a bottle on the chairs at the waiting area on the way to Shanghai, and a bottle on a little cabinet at the toilets on the way back. Believe me, it’s pretty impossible to make a bottle at your seat in the train while you have a baby on your lap!
– On the train, there is always a toilet with a diaper change table. Its actually way better than the one we had on the Hainan Airlines Plane!! It folds over the toilet, is pretty big, and has a strap, which you can strap over your baby to make sure she doesn’t fall off. But lets face it: trains in China are so steady, you will hardly need it! Still its nice to have that bit of reassurance and Genesis loved playing with it while getting a clean butt ;-).
– What to do when you yourself have to pee?! I made sure to go visit the restroom before my train took off. Once I was lucky and bumped into a handicap toilet, and I just went in with stroller and all! Otherwise I go to regular toilets, leave the door open and put Genesis in her stroller in front. This way I have my eye on her at all times, and besides, the stroller blocks any ‘interesting’ views ;-). Take one of the furthest toilets in the back to guarantee of your privacy.
During the trip:
– We were stuck between 2 guys on the way to Shanghai so I had Genesis on my lap the entire time. Make use of the retractable table in front of you!! This works wonders as a play table (don’t forget toys!!), but also as a seat ;-). Genesis loved sitting on it, and playing with me, or standing on it and looking around the train.
– Protip: if you sit next to the window, and your bubs sits on the table, they will love the view and feeling of the cold glass against their hands its endless fun! (well.. for like 5 minutes.. but 5 minutes still!)
– On the way back we had an open seat next to us, hooray! So now Genesis had her own seat, which was great for me.
– 2 seats open next to you?? Jackpot! Now you have your hands completely free 😉
– And lastly, use your fellow travellers! Haha! Especially as a Laowai, people are super interested in you and your child; THIS IS THE TIME TO MAKE USE OF THAT INTEREST XD. A friendly neighbour, people wanting to take pictures, enjoy it, it’s all distraction for your little one 😉
As you can see; It is very, very doable. I wouldn’t want to do a train trip longer than an hour or two by myself, yet for the small distances, its fine! Prepare, ask for help, and most importantly: keep a cool mind! A chill mama is a chill baby in cases like these 😉