China's new mums look online for childcare tips

BEIJING • Ms Meng Dongxue follows 17 public accounts on WeChat, the most widely used messaging and networking service in China, and they are all about raising babies.

"Hundreds of strangers are helping me raise my little girl," said Ms Meng, 26, who is among tens of millions of new mothers in China. Unsatisfied with merely providing food and clothing for her daughter, Ms Meng is focused on scientific parenting and education.

To ensure her five-month-old baby has the best parenting available, she pays special attention to the source of advice, and follows public online accounts of paediatricians and psychologists. "I don't want to be an old-style mum, and some of my parents' experiences are already outdated," she said.

The new parenting style of young mothers such as Ms Meng has given rise to WeChat groups related to everything from breastfeeding and baby food to health, catering mostly to young parents already used to getting their information online.

Nianiashuo, an account Ms Meng follows, has attracted nearly 20,000 followers since it was created in 2015. Run by entrepreneur Zhou Jieren, whose son is aged two, Nianiashuo posts three articles a week about her personal experiences. Ms Zhou's husband is a paediatrician.

For Ms Feng Hua, 29, whose daughter is six months old, following 10 public accounts and four apps is not enough. "I joined three WeChat groups, with a total of 300 mums sharing experiences," she said. Almost all the mothers in her groups bought the same brand of diaper and baby sling. She also bought English books based on recommendations from other mothers.

Gynaecologist Cai Jing, though not a new mother herself, shares her professional advice. "The baby-raising environment is changing, with mothers inclined to entrust their babies to thousands of faceless online members," said Dr Cai. "It surely helps, but seeking professional advice is also essential."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2017, with the headline 'China's new mums look online for childcare tips'. Print Edition | Subscribe