Mother reaches out to virtual world for parenting advice

Updated 2017-04-27 09:01:22 China Daily

Meng Dongxue follows 17 public accounts on WeChat, and they are all about babies.

"Hundreds of strangers are helping me raise my little girl, Xuegao," said the 26-year-old, whose daughter is 5 months old.

Meng is among millions of new moms in China. Last year saw the most births this century, 18.46 million, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Unsatisfied with merely providing adequate food and clothing for Xuegao, the top concern when Meng was a child, she is focused on scientific parenting and education.

To ensure her baby has the best parenting available, Meng follows public accounts created by pediatricians and psychologists.

"I don't want to be an old style mom, and some of my parents' experiences are already outdated," Meng said, citing a recent disagreement about a pillow. Her parents and parents-in-law think Xuegao should sleep with a pillow, but Meng insists she should not have a pillow until she learns how to sit.

"A prominent pediatrician posted an article, saying that babies feel uncomfortable on pillows when their spine is not well-developed," she said. "It was scientific and convincing."

This modern parenting style has given rise to WeChat groups related to everything from breast-feeding to baby food, catering mostly to young parents used to getting their information online.

"I receive hundreds of messages a day from moms who share the same concerns about raising children. I can always seek help," said Feng Hua, 29, who has a 6-month old girl. "Their answers are a panacea for all my problems."

Nianiashuo, an account Meng follows, has attracted nearly 20,000 subscribers since it was created in 2015. Zhou Jieren, the mother of a 2-year-old boy, posts three articles a week about her personal experiences.

She works as an entrepreneur at a biomedical company, and her husband is a pediatrician, so the couple try to provide scientific parenting tips.

"We are overwhelmed by parenting information on the internet, but the quality of advice can be misleading," Zhou said.

According to Cai Jing, a gynecologist at Xinqiao Hospital in Chongqing, most of her patients were born in the 1980s. She reads a lot of articles about pregnancy and shares her professional advice with expectant moms.

"The parenting environment is changing, with mothers inclined to entrust their babies to thousands of faceless netizens," she said. "It surely helps, but seeking professional advice is essential."

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