Traveling with a baby is so fun and rewarding, but it has its own set of challenges. For example, it can sometimes be hard to find baby food when traveling to a different country, especially when the culture is quite different like in Japan. For parents visiting Japan with a baby, we’ve prepare this guide on how to find baby food in Japan.
After a very long travel day from Canada, we arrived in Tokyo with baby early in the evening. We desperately wanted to sleep, but that we needed to find baby food for breakfast before going to bed. Venturing out into the world’s largest city after dark in search of baby food is a little intimidating and I’m not ashamed to admit that our baby’s first breakfast in Japan came from a nearby 7-11.
Thankfully, once we got settled in Tokyo, we found the search for baby food was easy, fun and rewarding.
For the rest of your family, here is a list of foods you MUST try in Japan!
5 Places to Find Baby Food in Japan
While in Japan you will have four main sources of food for your baby: drug stores, grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores.
1. Drug Stores in Japan
Drug stores are an excellent source of baby supplies in Japan. At Japanese drug stores you will find prepackaged baby food, baby snacks and diapers. If you are traveling to Japan with a baby, note that unlike North American grocery stores, most of these essential baby products are not found in Japanese grocery stores.
Our baby was eating solids while in Japan, but we still made good use of the excellent Japanese drug stores. During our trip to Japan with our baby, we bought diapers and lots of finger-food snacks (baby crackers, etc.) for snacks on-the-go. Having good baby snacks was especially nice as we enjoyed the many easy walks around Kyoto.
2. Grocery Stores in Japan
If your baby is on solid food, your job of feeding your baby in Japan will be more complicated. As most parents want to find healthy food for their baby, you’ll get the majority of your baby food from grocery stores.
With the language barrier and cultural differences in cuisine, Japanese grocery stores are a little intimidating, but it will be a fun, exciting and rewarding experience trying to find food for your baby.
Here is a list of healthy baby-friendly food found in Japanese grocery stores:
- red and green peppers
- frozen vegetables (peas, corn, etc.)
- peanut “spread”
- ground meats (beef, pork, etc.)
- granola bars.
With the list of healthy baby food available from Japanese grocery stores, here are some basic meal ideas that you can make during your visit to Japan with a baby. All these baby-friendly meals can be made in a simple Japanese rental apartment kitchen:
- Boiled carrots
- fried eggs on toast
- scrambled eggs with ham and cheese
- frozen pizza (cooked in a toaster oven)
- pan fried dumplings
- basic stir fry (soy sauce, pasta, ground pork, veggies)
- sandwiches (ham & cheese or peanut “spread”)
- microwave steam pork buns
- pre-cooked teriyaki chicken skewers and tempura vegetables from the deli.
Additional essentials available at Japanese grocery stores:
When visiting Japan with a baby, you’ll need to buy more than just baby food. If you are staying in a rental apartment, you can buy laundry detergent at supermarkets. If you crave a morning cup of joe, you can also buy coffee in Japan in supermarkets.
3. Restaurants in Japan
Visiting a Japanese restaurant with a baby will likely be your biggest food challenge in Japan. High chairs are very rare at restaurants in Japan, so you may wish to bring a portable travel high chair with you.
In addition, many Japanese restaurants will not have English menus. We found the Google Translate app to be a life saver in this situation, both for reading menus and for communicating with restaurant staff.
Japan has many styles of restaurants, and not all are baby friendly. The following types of Japanese restaurants are baby friendly and should make your life a little easier:
- Popular Japanese chain restaurants, such as Curry House, Yoshinoya or Ootoya have tourist friendly menus in English and/or with pictures. Take-out food is typically easily available at these Japanese restaurants.
- Shokudō are easily identified by their display cases showing off their menu items using plastic food replicas. The Japanese food here is typically more ‘authentic’ than the chain restaurants, but is still typically easy to order and you can have confidence in what you are ordering.
- Bento boxes are good choices to buy for the family as they have many different items within. Your baby will likely not like all the offerings, but there is usually something within each box they will like. Bento boxes are available in convenience stores, department stores and specialty stores.
- If your baby is struggling with the different flavors of Japanese cuisine, you can always use the foreign fast food chain restaurants (McDonald’s etc.) as a backstop.
4. Convenience Stores in Japan
Convenience stores are plentiful in Japan. Chains such as 7-11 and Lawson are literally everywhere and they offer a decent selection of food basics. Baby friendly food on offer at Japanese convenience stores includes milk, bread, cheese, meat, pre-made sandwiches and wraps.
5. Food From Home
In addition to these choices, it’s always a good idea to bring as much familiar baby food from home as you think you can get through customs. There will always be times when your baby just wants something familiar and comforting and having their favorite foods from home will be well received.
If you wish to bring food from home when visiting Japan with a baby, please be aware that you cannot bring produce (fruits and vegetables) over international borders. In general, pre-packaged baby food is acceptable to bring from home.
More Japan with Kids
- 7-Day Itinerary for Kyoto with Kids
- 5 Family Friendly Hikes in Kyoto
- 6 Playgrounds for Visitors to Kyoto
- 5 Playgrounds for Visitors to Tokyo