One of the first and probably most oft repeated aspects one hears about life in Singapore from other expats, is how incredibly child and baby friendly Singapore is. Of course when you are five months pregnant, escaping the Danish winter and moving to Singapore to give birth to your first child, this sounds fantastic to your ears and you start envisioning a life full of ease, comfort and convenience. And as you discover, there are the definite positives:
Availability of nursing rooms all over town? Check.
Baby changing areas? Check.
Lots of fun activities for kids? Check.
Options for taking public transportation with a pram? A real nightmare as it turns out!
So there I am, waiting to board the bus from our Holland Road bus stop to go to Orchard Road. I have baby in the pram with me and as the bus approaches, I notice fellow passengers giving me the (what I have since come to realize is) the “how-is-she-going-to-get-on-the-bus-with-the-pram-by-herself” look. Because apparently in Singapore, this is truly something that only an unsuspecting, newly arrived expat would attempt.
Unlike most European countries, where a mother (or father) with a pram are allowed to board from the middle doors of the bus for ease and practicality, my Singaporean bus driver insists that I board from the front of the bus along with everyone else. Of course boarding from the front of the bus with a pram is like trying to squeeze into my favorite pair of skinny jeans after giving birth (pretty impossible!), so I must dismantle the pram right then and there – I hold baby in the maxi cosi seat in one arm, collapse and hold the folded pram in the other hand, while trying to simultaneously tap my bus card and not drop the diaper bag (or the baby!) After holding up the entire queue of people boarding the bus, I finally inch my way to the middle of the bus and look up to see the bemused faces of my fellow passengers – who give me a look of sympathy mixed with incredulousness at my “bravery”.
So if you are not feeling particularly brave, I suggest skipping the bus if you have a pram with you. If you choose to take the bus with baby, perhaps a baby sling would be the best option, although we all know how heavy even a 4kg baby can feel after a while, especially in this heat and humidity. If you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a MRT station, then the pram option might work, otherwise with taxis being as cheap as they are in Singapore – usually they are the best way to travel with baby. That is, if you can manage to flag one down (tip: hide the baby and the pram to hail one faster) or manage to book one in the rain.
Whichever way you decide to travel around town with your baby, you can be sure of one thing – the friendly locals will stop by and appreciate your baby, making your hard earned efforts to get out of the house, seem worth it!
oh my gosh – my experience exactly…. nicely captured. I’d add one more negative – school fees are not very child friendly! Yes there is local school, but I’ve heard that if your child is not fluent in Chinese or might be the only expat in his/her school it might be tough. That was a real eye opener for me… i thought there would be options of school fees, but it seems there is only Free (if your eligible) or 20,000 per year! Not child friendly.
Hi RT, glad to hear this article resonated with you! Although I do not have personal experience regarding paying school fees in Singapore, (as my daughter was still very young while there and still in kindergarden/nursery), but I did hear similar feedback with other friends with older kids. International school fees are exorbitant in Singapore and although not impossible, but yes very difficult for expat kids to get into local schools. Good luck to you and your family, hope you were able to find a good fit!