Be Prepared Before Going Out with Your Baby in Japan!
Going out with your infant is an excellent opportunity to show your baby the outside world, and also gives you a well-deserved break and change of scenery.
However, there is much preparation when doing so, from how to cope with tantrums, to finding places for nursing and changing diapers. In Japan, nursing babies in public spaces, such as on transportation and in parks—has not been fully embraced. While some mothers have commented that it wasn't a problem, others have said that they were conscious of people looking at them.
Regardless, the ideal place is where mothers and their infants can feel safe. Recently, there's been an increase in the number of facilities where parents can breastfeed their babies and also change their diapers.
In today's article, we explain how to search and find places where you can nurse and change diapers. We've also compiled a list of recommended items to take with you when going out with your baby.
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Nursing Rooms in Japan
Photo by Pixta
Nursing rooms are spaces available for anyone who wants to feed their baby, either by breastfeeding or with a baby bottle. They are designated with the above symbol ("nyujushitsu").
Many nursing rooms also come equipped with diaper changing stations.
Some mothers might feel uncomfortable being in an unfamiliar place surrounded by strangers––so before going out, discuss everything with your outing companion or partner and have a plan ready in place.
What Are Japanese Nursing Rooms Like?
Photo by Pixta
Nursing rooms differ in the kinds of services they provide. Most nursing rooms have a baby crib, a chair for breastfeeding, and a table for your personal belongings. Though most nursing rooms are private spaces, keep in mind that there are some exceptions, so it's a good idea to have your baby nursing cover with you.
There's usually a hot water pot and microwave oven for preparing powdered milk and baby food, also a baby bottle sterilizer/warmer, a sink area, and a disposal unit for used diapers.
Nursing rooms are often equipped with emergency buttons, allowing you to call for help when necessary.
Shopping malls and similar places list nursing room information on their homepage, so make sure to get the necessary information beforehand. Also, the kids' floors at department stores and other shopping complexes sometimes even have childcare counseling rooms and rest spaces as well.
Where Are Nursing Rooms Located in Japan?
Diaper changing station. Photo by Pixta
In what kinds of places can you find nursing rooms?
They are often located in many public government offices and children's centers. In cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka, nursing rooms and diaper changing stations are prescribed by local regulations.
Local municipalities have established homepages such as Tokyo Kosodate Switch (Japanese). Here they offer information on nursing rooms and other facilities.
We recommend consulting the homepage set up by the nearest municipality or one established by the authorities in the area you regularly visit.
Large Shopping Malls
You will often find nursing rooms and diaper changing stations in large commercial complexes near train stations, and also in department stores, shopping malls, and shops specializing in baby goods.
So, when planning your outing, first, be sure to find safe and reliable places that you can utilize during the day.
When your baby starts to act up and cry on the train, it's hard to relax and keep things under control. At times like this, it would be nice if there was a place in the station where you could have a rest break and also take your time nursing your baby.
Large train stations and stations serviced by the Shinkansen (bullet train) often have nursing rooms. If you look at the JR-East Homepage, they'll introduce you to stations offering these facilities.
However, please bear in mind that smaller stations don't always have these services, so be sure to check beforehand.
Shinkansen and Airplanes
Shinkansen have multi-purpose restrooms that can be used for nursing your baby. If you reserve a seat located near one of these rooms, you'll have some peace of mind. However, as a general rule, physically challenged passengers are given priority––please keep in mind that the room won't always be available for use.
There are no nursing rooms aboard airplanes. So, it's best to try and find a place where you'll have some privacy, and use your baby nursing cover.
Some airlines will allow you to use the onboard changing room, and in some instances, will even provide you with hot water for the baby bottle and disposable diapers.
On the Shinkansen and airplanes, you can change your baby's diaper in the multi-purpose washroom.
Taking care of this business beforehand in a station or airport nursing room is ideal. But if your baby is taking a nap, it's challenging finding the right time to do all of this. So when you're in a tight spot, please don't hesitate to consult the train conductor or flight attendant.
Use These Handy Apps to Find a Nearby Nursing Room
Both of these sites have comment sections (usually written in Japanese) where you can read what actual users have to say about the facilities.
Handy Items When You Leave Home with Your Infant
Baby nursing cover. Photo by Pixta
It can be a cause for worry and anxiety when you realize you've forgotten something during an outing. Of course, you can always stop in at a nearby drugstore or baby goods shop and pick it up. However, having it with you when you leave your home will give you peace of mind and make things much more manageable.
Below we have a recommended checklist of handy items. Please feel free to use it.
Useful Items When You and Your Baby Go Out
- Diapers (will depend on your time frame, but more than 3-4 should be sufficient).
- Baby wipes
- Plastic bag for disposing of used diapers
- A diaper changing mat
- Some gauze or a towel (to clean up when your baby regurgitates).
- A baby's change of clothes
- Cold and hot weather protection (baby blanket, socks, a hat, etc.).
- Your baby's favorite toy
- Mother & child health record book
- Health insurance card
- Medicine notebook
- Sanitizing gel
For Meal Time
- A baby nursing cover
When Using Baby Formula
- A baby bottle
- Powdered milk (the tube or stick type is convenient. We recommend filling up the bottle ahead of time). The Wakodo brand is trusted and easy-to-use.
- A thermal mug (fill with boiling water and it will gradually cool down to the ideal temperature when you need it).
When Using Baby Food
- A baby food set
- Hand/facial wipes
- One extra change of baby clothes
Get Prepared and Enjoy An Outing with Your Baby!
Going on an outing with your infant can be a little nerve-wracking at times. So please use today's article to help you get adequately prepared, then have an enjoyable time outside with your baby!
Main image by Pixta