Maid (or Ayi) in Shenzhen

Since more injuries occur inside the home than any other location, “Ayi’s” and babysitters should have first aid training and the maturity to handle an emergency.

The following are tips on choosing and orientating a nanny or babysitter:

Choose nannies/babysitters who demonstrate knowledge on how to prevent injuries. They should have taken first aid training or a nanny/babysitting course that includes first aid.

Orient a new nanny/babysitter to your home. Show the him/her the first aid supplies, a book or sheet with emergency telephone numbers, the escape plan in case of fire and how to control heat, stove, lights and fuse box.

  • Take your nanny/babysitter to your local hospital or clinic so that they know exactly where to take the child if the parent or parents cannot be reached.
  • The nanny/babysitter should not smoke. Smoking is a fire and health hazard. In addition, smoking may cause or worsen children’s colds, flu, asthma and bronchitis.
  • Nannies and babysitters should not be expected to do chores. Their concern is for the safety of the child.
  • Check out your nanny/babysitter thoroughly. Make unscheduled visits home until you are sure you can trust them.
  • Be clear about activities and areas that are off limits to children.
  • Leave the telephone number where you will be and the number of a neighbor who could be of assistance in an emergency – keep this by your telephone.
  • After the children are put to bed, the nanny/sitter should check them at least hourly.
  • Make it clear that the nanny/babysitter should not sleep.
  • The nanny/babysitter should not be allowed to entertain friends. He or she is hired to do a job and should not be distracted.
  • The telephone should not be used for personal calls. It is for emergency use only.
  • The nanny/babysitter should know what the child is doing at all times.
  • If possible, avoid asking the nanny or babysitter to give medicine. If you must, give them careful instructions.


An Ayi (Chinese pronunciation for the characters 阿姨, sounds like ah-yee) literally means “auntie” but in general it refers to domestic helpers. They are generally middle-aged rural women who earn a living by helping in the household of an urban middle/high-income family. They do cleaning, buying food, cooking, washing etc. Ayis cost about 1500 to 3000 RMB/month.


It’s very important to have an ayi that you can trust, because she will often be home alone. Many families prefer to live with the ayi partially to increase the supervision. It also means the ayi doesn’t need to pay for her own apartment, so it might be cheaper that way. It’s good to check ID card and check with previous employers of the ayi. Most often people find ayis via recommendations of friends, or via professional companies.


Full-time ayis work Monday to Friday from early morning to about 6 in the evening. Live-in ayis normally have 1 day off per week on Sunday, or whatever else you agree upon. You have to provide a separate room for her to live, so this is only possible if your house is big enough for it. This is another reason why bigger houses are in favor, despite the fact that most families can only have 1 child. There are also ayis that work part-time or just get paid by the hour (around 8-20RMB/hour). The ayi should get paid once per month on a fixed date. The ayi should also get time off during the traditional Chinese holidays. Often they want to go back to their hometown to visit family for example.


After couples have a newborn baby, they often want some extra help to learn how to raise the baby. Midwives are unknown here, so people often hire a specialized ayi for this job. They are called “yuesao”. They are experts in helping mom recover and providing extra nourishment to the newborn baby. Yuesao have received formal training and have experience with several families. They will prepare traditional foods such as fish-soup for the mother to stimulate milk-production. They are also hands-on help for the new parents to teach them how to take care of the baby. Yuesao are more expensive than normal ayis but most people don’t care so much about the price, because a yuesao only stays for 1 month and the health of both mom and baby is very important. It’s perfectly normal to ask for a health-check at a hospital before hiring a yuesao or normal ayi that will work with your children.

Author: Jonathan Hyman,

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