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

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 April, 2017, 12:27pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 April, 2017, 10:46pm

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.

Dispute over child sleep service puts spotlight on lack of regulation in Hong Kong

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.

For sanity’s sake, let’s have better government-sponsored childcare

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.

Code of practice and possible new laws on marketing baby milk formula to boost breastfeeding in Hong Kong

“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.

When you become a new mum, it’s scary. You need that ­validation
Joyce Edmonson, nurse

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.”