BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- This year is special for Beijing resident Shen Jun, 39, as his second child was born in April, 13 years after the birth of his first child.
"The baby has brought happiness to our family. My daughter loves her little brother very much, and looks after him," Shen said.
Before 2016, Shen and his wife were not allowed to have a second child because neither of them was an only child.
Since the family planning policy was amended, many families have dreams of raising a second child. The country is also keen to encourage more parents to have two children.
In the first five months of 2017, more than 7.4 million babies were born in China, representing an increase of 7.8 percent from the same period in 2016, and 57.7 percent of them had an older sibling, according to a report by China Population News, which is administered by the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC).
Figures provided by the NHFPC also showed that 18.46 million babies were born in Chinese hospitals last year, the highest since 2000 and 1.31 million more than 2015, and about 45 percent of them had an older sibling.
The public is seeing the benefits of improved family planning services, said Wang Peian, deputy director of the NHFPC, adding that China will further improve current policies and create new favorable policies.
"China's demographic structure is undergoing a transformation, and we will continue to push demographic reform to facilitate the country's development," Wang added.
China's total fertility rate (TFR), which refers to the average number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime, reached 1.7 in 2016, compared to 1.5-1.6 between 2000 and 2015, the NHFPC said.
China has issued documents and allocated financial support to provide better maternal and child care services.
The NHFPC said that 31 provincial level regions in China have updated policies to allow longer maternity leave.
In 2016, China allocated a total of 2.91 billion yuan (about 441.6 million U.S. dollars) to support the construction of maternity and pediatric hospitals at city and prefecture level.
The country will provide 89,000 more maternity beds in hospitals and train 140,000 more obstetricians and midwives by 2020. More emergency centers for maternal and pediatric treatment will be set up nationwide by the end of this year.
According to the Ministry of Education, in 2016, the number of kindergartens nationwide reached 240,000, up 32.6 percent from 2012. The gross rate of kindergarten enrollment was 77.4 percent in 2016, up 12.9 percent from five years ago.
The State Council has issued a plan on educational development for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), with target of making the country's preschool education more inclusive.
A survey, jointly conducted by Radio Guangdong News Channel and a number of fertility websites, showed that 63 percent of the 10,000 multiple child families interviewed reported feeling happier after the birth of their second child.
Zhou Zhaohong, who works in a foreign company in Beijing, said that she is happy after the birth of her second child this year, although she sometimes feels tired since returning to work and taking care of her children.
Zhou expressed her hope for improved policies such as longer maternity leave and believed the future will be better for children growing up in China.