Asia is one of the best travel destinations for families with children. China is one of the most diverse countries in the world. From Hong Kong to Shanghai, to Beijing the country has something unique to offer everyone who visits. If you are heading to China with an infant here are 7 travel tips to know to help you enjoy stress-free travel.
Disclosure: "Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. Click here for the full disclosure statement."
Do infants need a visa for China?
Almost everyone who travels to China will need a visa to enter the country. If you are American, there are 10-year visas available for the same cost as a 3-month visa ($140). If you have smaller children, they will need a visa regardless of their age. Baby Cee got his visa when he was 2 months old, and it is valid for 10 years even though his passport expires in 5 years.
Learn how we applied our tourist visa for China and saved $600.
Air Pollution in China with infant
Our biggest concern when traveling to Beijing was air pollution. Unlike Hong Kong, Beijing is an industrial city and less urban. We’ve all heard about the air pollution problems in China and seen pictures of everyone wearing masks. We were worried about his lungs and the impact the air-quality could have on him long terms. This was a huge concern because we were traveling with a 4-month-old baby.
It turned out the air pollution was not as bad as we thought it would be. When we arrived we could feel the difference when we left the airport. There was a noticeable overlay of gray in the sky, but not as bad as we imagined. To prepare for the difference in air quality we purchased protective masks for ourselves and a mask for the baby. Infants and babies must wear a mask whenever possible while they are outside in China.
There are no protective masks designed specifically for babies or children under 3 years old. We found a children’s mask and made small modifications to fit an infant. It was difficult to get him to wear the mask, but we put it over his face while he was sleeping if we were outdoors. Some apps can be downloaded to monitor air quality.
Remember you will need a VPN if you use Google or Android
Stroller (Pram)/Baby Carrier/Car Seat
There is always the debate if a stroller or baby carrier is needed for infants when traveling. When we traveled to China with our infant we took a stroller, car seat, and baby carrier. We decided to take all three items because we did not want to use the carrier at the airport. We used the stroller and car seat to maneuver around the airport. The stroller made it easier to push the items we did not want to carry.
We brought the car seat because our son was too young to sit in a stroller without it. We did not use the car seat in the taxis all the time, but there were seat belts available. There may not be seatbelts available in older taxis, but the newer cars have seatbelts if you want to take a car seat. We do not recommend or encourage parents to travel without a car seat, this is only our opinion and experience with traveling to China with an infant.
The easiest way to maneuver the streets in China is with a baby carrier. If you are traveling to China with an infant it will be difficult to use a stroller because there are a lot of people on the streets. Don’t forget China has over 1 billion people. Strollers can take up a lot of space and will not fit on public transportation, especially if you get caught in rush hour.
Pictures with your infant
Keep in mind that China is a homogenous place and many Chinese tourists are from rural areas. Some people have never seen people from other countries. While in Beijing, we were bombarded by people trying to take our picture. I am not sure if it was because we are African American or because of our son. Everyone wanted to take a picture with my wife (Mea) everywhere we went.
At times they were a little aggressive but for the most part, everyone was friendly. This can be a little off-putting if you do not know what they are trying to do. There was a woman that chased us down the street to get a picture of our son. There were a few women who tried to take pick him up and we had to stop them. If you are uncomfortable you can simply say no thank you and bow slightly if you are not interested.
If you run out of wipes or diapers the best place to buy more is Walmart. We were able to find the Pampers brand in Wal-Mart for a reasonable price. We paid $11 for 90 diapers and $3 for a pack of wipes. The trip to Wal-Mart is an adventure of its own with a lot of candy. If you have older children they will be in paradise because Wal-Mart is full of snacks.
The airport in China with an infant
Traveling with an infant requires you to have milk available for when your baby is hungry. There are signs throughout the airport that state you cannot have more than 100 ml (3 ounces) of liquid. This does not apply to breastmilk or baby formula, but it may require additional inspection.
We were panicked when we saw the signs throughout the airport and when we asked the customer service representative we were told that we would have to pour out the milk. We did not listen to her and took the milk to security where we were allowed to pass with no problems. Just remember to tell them that you have milk for the baby.
Carry passport at all times
If you plan on going to a museum or major tourist site make sure you carry your passport. While visiting a museum I was asked to not only show my passport, but I also had to show the baby’s passport. The lady at the counter advised me that in some places a passport is needed to enter if we didn’t have a Chinese identification card. This could throw off your day if you are not prepared.
We had reservations about traveling to China with a baby, but we were worried for no reason. The experience was amazing and the memories and stories we can share with our son are invaluable. What is stopping you from traveling to china with an infant?
Do you have tips for families traveling to China with an infant? Comment below.