Living in Central Tokyo, especially as a person who grew up in a more rural situation (aka driving everywhere!) can be a learning curve when it comes to baby products. Now that my son is two, I feel like I am a bit wiser as far as baby products go! Here’s a list of five baby products you definitely need for life in Central Tokyo and a few more you can pass on! And if you want to see what my must haves were when Asahi was 10 months, click here! 😉
What you DO need
- A VERY Compact Stroller, and when I mean very, I mean it. Tokyo trains, grocery stores, and even elevators can be tiny, and add that to the fact that it’s also packed with people and you will be wishing you just used a baby carrier for your everyday outings…but that being said, a stroller has it’s place in your genkan! Some key features to have are that it’s easy to fold and carry with one hand, lightweight (because you will be surprised how often you exit a station with no elevator and have to carry that thing up the stairs along with your child), and has a narrow wheel base to navigate the tiniest of grocery aisles. My recommendations are the Baby Zen Yoyo (see my review of it here!), the GB Pockit Lightweight stroller, or the Air Buggy Coco. You could also go with a Japanese brand such as Aprica, although I find the wheels to be a bit shaky and the handlebar is too short for me. If I was to do it all over again, I would buy the Baby Zen Yoyo with the newborn bassinet and use that from day 1.
- Baby Carrier (or two) because they are probably the most convenient baby product in the first year. Wanna get somewhere fast on the train and not wait for the elevator? Baby carrier. Need baby to take naps and breastfeed on the go? Carrier. It’s basically the answer to all your baby problems. Any type works but something that can be used from newborn up until toddler age gives you the most bang for your buck. Also, make sure the carrier you buy is high quality and ensures that baby’s hips sit in an “M” shape versus dangling (I’m looking at you Baby Bjorn…) this is the optimal position for baby’s hip and spine development. (You can watch my babywearing 101 video here!) I think having one structured carrier and one soft wrap style is enough to get you through. Many people, myself included, used the carrier every day in the first year, so it’s definitely a worthy investment. My recommendations are the ErgoBaby (any type) with a newborn insert (if needed), the Lille Baby carrier, and the Pikimama sling (my personal favorite soft type carrier). You can see my baby carrier collection here!
- A backpack. Sounds lame but really, why do we even try to use anything else as a diaper bag? A backpack allows you to be hands free and works well whether you are baby wearing or pushing a stroller. Any backpack will work, you don’t need to spend loads on a “special” diaper bag backpack just because it includes a detachable changing pad you will probably never use right?
- Bouncers, swings, and high chairs with a small footprint. I don’t know about you but I don’t exactly have a ton of space in my apartment so filling it with a bunch of bulky baby stuff is just not practical. If you are going to invest in a bouncer or swing, I recommend getting something that is compact and easy to store away when not in use, such as the Baby Bjorn bouncer. If you want to get an automatic swing, I would see if you can buy one secondhand or borrow a friend’s to see if your baby enjoys it before investing in one since they tend to take up a lot of space. For high chairs, the Stokke Tripp Trapp is popular as it grows with the child, but you could also go with something foldable like the Baby Bjorn high chair. Multi function, small footprint items are always the way to go.
- A white noise machine because it’s not like you are going to have that much space in between your sleeping baby and you doing the dishes every night! Living in close quarters means making some smart decisions regarding baby sleep and an easy fix to your noise problems is something that produces those lovely ocean sounds.
One final piece of advice is to invest in Amazon Prime (because no one has the time or energy to haul bags of diapers and wipes on the train every month).
And a few things you don’t
- A huge stroller/travel system/whatever all your not living in Japan mom friends recommend. Let me tell you, anything bigger than the Baby Zen Yoyo is just not going to get used in Tokyo. Do yourself a favor and avoid buying these larger strollers because they just aren’t practical. So many of my friends, myself included, have bought US/Europe size strollers only to use them a few times and leave them to gather dust in the hallway in favor of a more lightweight option.
- A carseat. It’s just not necessary unless you actually have a car you regularly drive. Taxis do not require babies to be in carseats (a baby carrier will work) and if you go on a trip and rent a car you can also rent a carseat to use at the same time.
- A changing table. This one will have a lot of parents divided but personally I don’t think you need a changing table. If you are debating whether to get one and wondering if you have the space, just don’t get it. It’s so easy to change baby’s diaper on the bed or floor using a waterproof changing mat unless you have some physical limitations which make that impossible. There was never a time when I wished I had a changing table and in fact, I found the floor much safer anyways once my son started to be more mobile!
What are your Tokyo living baby must haves?