December 13, 2019

Traveling Tokyo with babies and small children

When you’re traveling with babies and small children you naturally end up carrying a lot more stuff and moving around becomes a worry.

What’s more, Tokyo is always crowded and few people are willing to give up their bus or train seat for you. It’s not the best place for kids...

I have two children myself, a 7-year-old and a 10-month old, and I have to be honest, the thought of dragging them around Tokyo is horrible.

That’s why, in this article, we will be giving you some tips on how to make your life a little easier when traveling to Tokyo with small children.

Image by Unsplash

Stroller or baby sling?

Let’s address the hardest thing first; getting around.

When sightseeing close by your accommodation, I recommend using a stroller, but if you’re going to be using the bus or trains, I firmly believe that a baby sling is best.

This is because there are so many people in Tokyo and it’s such a pain to push a stroller around a crowded station.

Not only are the train stations packed, but not all of them have elevators to connect the platforms with the station.

Plus, if you get on a train with a stroller during rush hour, you’ll be causing inconvenience to others too.

I wish that Tokyo would be a bit better for kids...

There is a “child support space” on the carriages of trains on the Oedo subway line where you can ride in peace. The Oedo Line generally runs through the same areas as the JR Yamanote Line, so it might be better to use this line where you can instead.

Going to the department store if you get tired

It’s difficult to carry a baby around all day.

But if you get tired, take a break from your schedule and head for the department stores and shopping malls near the stations.

Lots of shopping facilities near major Tokyo stations like Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Roppongi, and Ginza will loan you a stroller to push around the stores for free.

Luckily, they also have clean and easy-to-use nursing rooms and baby changing facilities too.

Some facilities have access to hot water so that you can make up baby formula or a free-to-use break room for parents and children where you can give them snacks and baby food and let them play for a bit.

The google translation makes it difficult to understand the text but the pictures will give you a good image of what kind of service is provided.

On the Shinjuku Isetan homepage, you can find a guide to facilities that mothers and children can use.

They have a baby break room, parent and child toilets, a child sitting service and restaurants that have baby food on their menus.

A useful nursing room search app

It’s not just in shopping centers, but also in urban stations and public facilities where you can find nursing rooms and baby changing facilities.

Unfortunately, they’re not always the biggest and cleanest… At these times, you can use the app “Mamapapamap” to search for nursing and baby changing facilities across Tokyo and the rest of the country, with photos of the spaces included.

As the information on Mamapapamap is updated by users, you can get a good grasp of what kind of place these facilities are, which is very reassuring for a mother.
You can also search through other options, such as whether a facility has a microwave or a kettle, or if they have kids toilets and baby chairs in toilets for adults.

It’s an emergency! When you need to change your baby’s diaper or feed them on the go

When out and about with small children you have to expect the unexpected.

Even if you think that you’re properly prepared though, there are times when you will need to change your child’s diaper, feed them snacks or baby food, or change their clothes on the go.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of great stores in Tokyo that stock cheap and convenient baby goods.

When I stay in Tokyo for five nights or more, I pack around two day’s worth of diapers and the minimal changes of clothes required and then top these supplies up as necessary the day or day after arriving as part of my souvenir shopping.

If I don’t, then the entirety of my suitcase is occupied by baby goods and I find myself getting more and more tired before I have even left my house (^_^;)

You can buy diapers, wipes, baby snacks and food, and formula for cheap from drugstores and supermarkets.

Even convenience stores stock packs of four diapers, which is really handy.

If it’s colder than you thought it would be and you don’t have enough clothing for your kids and have to rush out and buy more, there are plenty of children’s goods stores where you can buy these for reasonable prices.

It’s quite expensive to buy these kinds of things at department stores, so we recommend the stores below for better prices.

Akachan Honpo stocks everything from maternity goods to toys and clothing. They sell handy cube-shaped packs of baby formula for when you’re on the go, cooling gel packs for strollers, and other things that make just browsing this store immense fun. There are lots of kids raincoats and clothes that are of great quality and made with comfortable materials on sale all over Japan!

Stroller rental services

Now, there may be parents who are coming to Tokyo who are worried about bringing their usual stroller.

I personally recommend that you use a baby sling where possible and hire a stroller only where necessary.

As I have mentioned, there are free stroller loaning services in major department stores and shopping centers, so I recommend that you make the most of these.

However, you can only use these inside the facility. If you want to use a stroller right out of your accommodation, then you should look into using a rental service.

We’ve found this service! It’s called “StrollerTrip” and they deliver high-quality strollers from the baby goods brand Combi right to your accommodation.

Being able to travel around Tokyo without having to lug your stroller all the way here makes things a little easier!

Image by StrollerTrip

We get that it’s hard to travel with small children in tow, but we hope that you can use these tips to make some great travel memories in Tokyo.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us at Helping Dragon!

Written by Sumire Hayakawa
Translated by Carley Radford

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