Hong Kong mothers increasingly bring in the professionals when it comes to childcare
Some parents bring in HK$42,000-a-month, 24-hour help, while ‘baby sleep consultants’ increasingly called on to help with a good night’s sleep
More mothers in Hong Kong are getting professional help when it comes to caring for their babies to ensure peaceful nights and to deal with other problems the new arrivals may have, according to industry insiders.
The hired help ranges from traditional Chinese pui yuet maternity helpers, to nurses who are expert in training babies to sleep, known as “baby sleep consultants”.
While some demand comes from inexperienced first-time mothers, Au Yeung Po-chun, chairwoman of the Women Service Association, which promotes women’s rights in society, said the industry was thriving because working mothers faced stress due to limited support from society.
She said the government should extend maternity and paternity leave, and new parents should receive financial support such as a cash allowance.
Some common posts online, similar to those on the “Hong Kong Moms”Facebook page, include complaints like babies crying when put in their own cribs or waking in the middle of the night for food, leaving parents exhausted and frustrated.
Julisa Ting Pui-yuk, director of Baby and Mother Garden Service, a childcare employment agency, said more mothers were asking for 24-hour postnatal care, under which a maternity helper would take care of both mother and baby around the clock.
About half of the agency’s clients opt for 24-hour care, rising from just three out of 10 a decade ago, she said.
“People are getting wealthier and can afford services that could relieve their stress,” said Ting, whose company charges HK$42,000 a month for a 24-hour service.
“Mothers don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to feed their babies,” she added.
“Taking care of babies at night is the toughest... you might need an hour for feeding and another 30 minutes to burp the baby.”
Another founder of a maternity services agency said more mothers were keeping the help for longer, from three months in the past to six months or even up to a year recently.
Parents also receive help, which is greatly welcomed, for more specific problems.
Baby sleep consultants, for example, are usually experienced nurses who figure out why little ones are not sleeping so well at night.
While some in the city may charge around HK$1,000 per hour for a consultation, others offer overnight home services for a few thousand dollars per night.
Some consultants based overseas also offer online help to parents through Skype or email.
Joyce Edmondson, a nurse who works as a baby sleep consultant in Hong Kong, said she had seen more parents getting help with sleep recently.
“When you become a new mum, it’s scary. You need that validation,” said Edmondson, who has been working as a baby consultant for about five years in the city.
“So people reach out to professionals.”