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Out and About

If you moved here from "car culture" like I did two years ago, getting around with a young child (or two) can be a challenge. I miss the days of being able to pack a carseat, two strollers, clothes, diapers, toys and reading material (for me) in the trunk of my car. Here are a few things I've learned:

  • Be well-equipped.

    ~ Whether or not you have a car in which to pack your baby gear, a backpack is helpful, even essential. (I personally switch between a tote and backpack.) With a backpack on, you can have baby in a sling or frontpack carrier, and still have both hands free, especially important if you have an older child with you and need to hold her hand.

    ~ Forget the fancy prams. Instead, a sturdy but lightweight stroller that you can open and fold with one hand is a must. First, sidewalks in Taipei aren't very stroller-friendly, so yours must be easy to carry/manuever over steps or through construction zones. Second, one that is small and lightweight can be lifted onto buses, my preferred mode of transportation. Finally, if you drive or use taxis, you can carry baby in one arm, and easily open/fold a good stroller with the other.

    ~ Use a sling or other baby carrier for babies and toddlers. It frees one or both of your hands for shopping, paying bus fare, rummaging in your bag, etc. It's also good for baby to be in physical contact with you, and allows her to take in more of her surroundings.

    ~ Invest in a mobile phone and program frequently called numbers as well as emergency numbers so you don't have to pack a separate address book. A phone is also a good way to get directions if you should happen to get lost, and also gives you an added sense of security.

  • Be safe.

    ~ If you rely on buses and cabs to get around, you may need to lower your expectations a bit about safety. The buses here are very efficient, with lots of bumps, jerks, and sudden stops. Sometimes, you may still be on the steps when he closes the door and starts driving, so I've taught my son to grab onto something as soon as he boards.

    ~ Many cabdrivers tuck buckles into the seats, so don't expect to be able to buckle yourself in, much less an infant car seat. However, if you have the patience (and strength) to carry a car seat with you when you take cabs, then do so.

    ~ The MRT (mass rapid transit) is also a great way to get around: inexpensive, efficient, and clean. Good access with elevators and ramps (for strollers) as well as signs in English, but sometimes the elevators aren't very easy to find.

    ~ Carrying your child in a sling or carrier, and using a backpack, frees one or both hands so you can hang on tight!

  • Be prepared.

    ~ Obviously, pack whatever meals you might need for an outing with a young child, as well as snacks, water or juice, and a toy or two in case he needs a distraction.

    ~ As summer nears, the buses, restaurants and other establishments tend to crank up the air-conditioner so it helps to have a sweater or small blanket packed for kids.

    ~ A warm, sunny day can unexpectedly turn into a cold and rainy one, so you can pack a compact umbrella in your bag, or buy cheap ones for NT$100 at any convenience store.

    ~ For outings longer than an hour with a baby or toddler, pack an extra change of clothes. The day you forget to bring extra clothes is usually the one when you'll need it most. Trust me on this one.

    ~ Pack one or two diapers more than you actually think you'll be needing, for the same reason that you should have a change of clothes.

  • Pick up a few new habits.

    ~ The heat and humidity in Taiwan make it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so one of the first things you'll learn to do is wash your hands frequently, and especially as soon as you return from an outing.

    ~ Carry a small pack of wet wipes or sanitizing lotion to wipe baby's hands and yours if you're out and can't get to a sink.

    ~ If you enjoy eating out often and baby does too, pack a dish, cup and utensils for baby in a re-sealable plastic bag.

    ~ If your child walks, make it a habit to always hold hands while you're out, or consider a leash or harness.

    ~ Watch out for runaway scooters and aggressive drivers!

  • Resources:

    ~ (information on the MRT
    ~ Central Weather Bureau's weather forecast
    ~ Printable, e-mailable maps

    Visit us at the Family Forum to ask a question or offer a tip of your own!

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