Essential Lists & Tips

How to Survive – and Enjoy – Chinese New Year with a Toddler

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Chinese New Year is around the corner and I can’t wait to bask in the festivities! There’s the reunion dinner, visiting family and friends, get-togethers, open houses, and loads loads of CNY cookies. However, with a toddler in tow, you and I both know it won’t be as simple as getting up in the morning and go. So here are some things I do (and plan to do) before and during CNY to survive and most importantly enjoy the celebration.

Stock up

I shop for fresh ingredients as well as snacks from the local market every week to feed my toddler. However, most stalls (especially the Chinese owned ones) will be closed during the first few days of CNY. So, if you are like me, best to stock up beforehand to avoid driving all over town searching for his favorite fish biscuit. Egad!

CNY clothes for the toddler

Kids outgrow their clothes so fast that spending a bomb on a CNY costume didn’t fit my budget. But, I still wanted to dress him up. So, when I found a cute Samfu with embroidery for RM29.90, I immediately grabbed one! But what I’m really keeping in my bag is an extra set of comfortable clothes. Because, honestly, a hot and sweaty kid is going to be a grumpy kid.

Ang Pao

The little one will be receiving a lot of Ang Paos being one of the youngest in the family. Hence, I’ll be preparing an entire compartment in my bag specially for his Ang Paos. Saves me the mess of mixing them up with the rest of my Ang Paos. Additionally, I use a bag organiser to separate my RM2s from my RM5s and my RM10s. Makes Ang Pao giving a lot more graceful.

Sticking to the routine

While I would love to party non-stop the entire 15 days of CNY, I have learnt that when running a marathon, pacing yourself is key. Same goes for celebrating CNY with a toddler. This means spreading the activities out and doing visitings in-between nap times. I find this minimises the tantrums and allows both toddler and myself enough rest to fully to enjoy the festivities. You don’t want to end up with the nightmare of pacifying a screaming child in the middle of the night. Both heart-breaking and exhausting at the same time.


I try to feed my toddler before we leave the house. That way, when we arrive at our destination, his tummy is full and he can focus on running around and playing with his cousins. On occasions where I can’t do so, I try to bring him to a quiet corner and give him a book to read while I feed him. To avoid having to chase him down for every mouthful, I use a portable booster seat to keep him in one spot. Lifesaver. Really.

Staying hydrated

The weather during CNY is usually hot and dry. And with all the gatherings to attend, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated. So, remember to pack an extra bottle of water and constantly remind the little one to drink up. A few extra diaper changes is better than the 8 hourly medication feed. Trust me.

Prepare the toddler

Lastly, even though my toddler cannot express his feelings with words yet, I find that telling him what we are about to do next and why seems to make the task easier with less meltdowns. I guess at the end of the day, he may be a baby but he has feelings too and a little respect goes a long way! Not everyone likes being dragged around town visiting aunties who clamber to pinch your cheeks and plant lipstick-stained kisses on you. I kid. I kid. But hey, doesn’t hurt to give him a heads-up.

What are some of your tips and tricks to survive CNY with a toddler? Let me know in the comment section below. I’d love to hear and learn from you!

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Wei Yenn was a PR Consultant before trading it for a career in education. A mother to a music-loving toddler, her most influential teacher is her son. 

Image Credit: Sassy Mama HK

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