Buying baby stuff in China over the last few years has become a sign of status. Due to the rise within the middle class attitude of keeping up with the Joneses.
Everybody wants imported products as they don’t trust the Chinese brands even though 99% of the imported products are made in China. I recently bought a bottle from Mothercare in Chengdu a Chinese friend informed me that it would not be the same as the quality if I had bought it from Mothercare in the UK. I informed her it’s exactly the same bottle both made in China. No she informed me the Chinese one will be of a lesser quality. Sigh!
Also I have noticed pricing is sometimes double that of what we pay in the West for the same product just because it’s so called imported. You can also buy western baby products online on Taobao (Chinese Ebay), but even then everybody tells you it’s probably fake.
Changes in the last few years.
When I first came to China in 2008 you would hardly see baby prams or buggies on the street most locals carried their babies in baskets or had a chinese style buggy. I don’t think I even saw a baby care seat until about 3 years ago. Now everybody wants Silvercross or some other kind of Western pram or buggy. To be honest they are just not practical in the city, most of the cities in China are not wheelchair or buggy friendly.
Even before the baby is born it’s already competing on a material wealth level.
Nappies (Diapers USA)
Again when I arrived I noticed most kids had crotchless pants. Most Chinese parents used the Nappy/Diaper free method mostly through tradition and cost. Apparently newborns are able to signal their mother when they need the toilet, but when using a Nappy/Diaper they lose this ability.
Now in the supermarkets you have a huge choice of imported and local products. Local Pampers or imported Pampers the choice is yours. So in the last ten years there has been a massive increase in Nappy/Diaper use in China the environmental impacts must be huge.
If your interested in the Nappy/Diaper free method check out this video warning contains poop and pee. Also I’m not sure about letting the baby pee in the kitchen sink. Youtube
When I tell most of my friends back home that we will not be using a cot or crib for the first six months and that the baby will be sleeping in our bed I usually get a some kind of shock reaction. Again until recently most Asian and African parents have their babies sleep in their beds (co sleeping). Apparently the level of SIDS in China is really low. Yet again cot/crib sales have increased in China due to the rise in middle class incomes.
If interested in co sleeping check out this interview with James McKenna, PhD.
It feels like everything is being over simplified and the goal for material products even for babies has become a goal, a dream and a reality.
I’m just waiting for the day when I see a baby with an iWatch in Chengdu.
Globalisation baby globalisation.