Baby and Toddler Carts in Japan

One of the best freebies in Japan are the Baby Carts in the stores. If you are like a lot of families visiting or relocating to Japan then you want to know all the little details about how to make your life easier when navigating a foreign country. A great place to find things to do with little ones is to visit your nearest mall. Aeon Mall in particular is very kid friendly.

When we first arrived in Japan I was overwhelmed by the many differences. Most of the shopping areas had really narrow aisles and my American style stroller seemed monstrous and just did not work well in the tight crowded space. It can also be a struggle if you are living car free in Japan or downsizing to a more Tokyo friendly smaller scale car. One of the best things I found when I first arrived was the great abundant of themed baby carts and toddler carts in the malls.

I realized that many families in the malls, grocery stores, and department stores were pushing along sleeping babies reclined in style while still having a place for the shopping bags. The toddlers were pretending to drive along with their favorite characters and they were being pushed along giving their moms and dads plenty of shipping time since they were throughly entertained.

The baby carts that are available in many of the stores and malls are high up about waist level and the baby sit can sit up straight or recline fully to allow your child to nap. This also provides those who came to the mall via bicycle or train a way to transport without having to baby wear throughout the entire trip. It is also helpful to many in Japan with mini sized cars that do not have the trunk space to haul a stroller if they are also going to be making purchases on their trip.


The baby cart is free for use in the store and you can take it all the way out to your car or bicycle when it is time to pack up your purchases and head home. There are also handles on the cart for shopping bags to hang and a rack underneath to store your basket while you are adding items to your cart.

Some of the baby carts face forward but generally you will see the infant style baby carts facing towards their parent so they will feel at east.

The carts have rubber handle grips and do not have a tight strap or buckle. Instead they have a plastic breathe comes across the lap and between the legs. The plastic Lapland can be tightened or loosened. It will not get loose enough for your child to fall out but it can not get too tight like a small buckle or strap. This design is pretty good, especially if you have a wiggle baby that hates straps. However I find it a bit difficult to put a baby in when I have no assistance. The cart is on wheels and you also have to hold the plastic lap band forward while putting the baby in. It can be done but I think the carts should have some type of brake for this situation. Overall it is a really nice design though.

Most stores have a lot of infant style arts available. I have not come across a time where we couldn’t get one. Even on the dreaded Sunday with heavy crowds!

The toddler carts are available at most locations that have the infant carts. Sometimes if you can not locate a toddler cart inside near the infant seat area then they will be available outside of the store entrances.

These carts are good for children from about 1 1/2 to 4 years of age. There are a variety of character theme and colors. We found most common are Anpanman, Hello Kitty, Thomas the Train, Winnie the Pooh, Miffy, and Mickey Mouse. The carts are equipped with steering wheels, mirrors, and some pretend car controls to entertain your toddler. They all have a strap and buckle. The entrance of the carts are low so toddlers can actually clim in the carts themselves and parents do not have to bend over to life them up. They may just require some help with the buckle.

The carts also have two hooks for shopping bags. You can hang a grocery shopping basket on them as well but then is not really stable and you should use caution. These are more designed for shopping bags, not baskets for use in the grocery area. If you would like to grocery shop with this cart it is possible but not suggested unless you have a second person to help you hold the basket separately.

There is also an area at the top of the cart that you can use for holding small items. We use this area for holding soppy cups or small toys that our toddler might insist on bringing in the mall.

There are many carts available usually. However, we have noticed that there are less toddler carts than infant carts for use. The toddler carts do sometimes run out, especially during peak shopping times during weekends.

Don’t forget the Aeon Malls and large grocery areas generally have a play space for children. The basic play spaces for infants and crawlers are generally free but some of the larger play areas do charge by 5 to 15 minute increments. They can be as little as a few hundred yen to requiring monthly memberships. Either way, when you are using the baby cart you can still participate in the play areas or the arcade spaces.. you can simply park them on the outside of the play area and leave your bag hanging on the cart. This signifies that you are not finished with the cart and no one will use it.

Hope this post helps those venturing out and about the first few times in Japan. Maybe you can accomplish your tasks via bike or car and leave your strollers at home!

Graco Pack N’ Play for Relocation – Sanity Saver!

So, first let me say that ok, this $200 did not literally save my sanity, I was still probably on the edge with a 13 hour time change, 3 days of travel and a newborn. But I swear, one of my baby shower gifts really saved me so much stress and hassle that I have to recommend it to anyone moving. Three words (kinda) Pack N’ Play.

Just before it was time to register for my baby shower we found out that our family would be moving over seas for the next four years. We would have about three or four months to prepare and we would be traveling with a one month old and a kindergartener. We did not know what exactly our accommodations were going to be or even when our new home would be available once we had settled on one. On top of that we had a five-year old who was doing to be entering kindergarten two months before the move. I had envisioned this easy trip to the store for picking up school supplies and baby bottles all in a one stop trip and it was turning into a completely different chaotic situation.

I decided that we would need to be really smart about our move and how we did things so that our heads wouldn’t explode simultaneously! The first things that I was already in the process of completing was registering for my baby shower. I knew that my husband was really busy at work and I started the baby registry while he was at work one day. I completed the sign up and questionnaires with the store associate to just get it out of the way. I checked out some of the “must haves” that the store suggested and browsed around before heading home. I knew that my husband would be coming back to help me with the actual decisions for the registry later that day. I knew that many things on my registry were not going to be gifted due to cost and the like so I mentally prepared myself to make this an essential items list for moving a baby across the world as well! Most of the list was just a guide for myself to make sure we were prepaired. I also knew that many of the items on the registry we going to get stuck on the ship from the US to Japan for a couple of months. So anything like high chairs were ok as I wouldnt need them yet, but things like new born size clothes were not going to cut it. She wouldnt be able to wear them anymore by the time they arrived. I ended up registering for bigger sizes that wouold do better in a season or even two as it would be around 3 months after our arrival that I saw anything we packed. Anything she needed must fit in a suitcase because we could only take a bag or two each. Otherwise the price for luggage was going to get way over our budget.

I decided that the most important item on the list was going to be a pack n play. I know that not everyone thinks they are the most cost effective items nor are they best for cleaning purposes (who had the bright idea of putting something like a thick poster board in the middle of bedding that you can not remove for washing…for babies!?) but in this scenario this product was a life saver. I ended up deciding on a Graco brand pack n play. Not the top of the line but not the lowest end either. Our model had a sleeping attachment at the top for the littliest of babies and a changing area as well. After a month or so we could remove the top sleeper and have a longer but still elevated bed and then finally you could remove that and just use as a play yard. It also had a couple bins that were attached at the side for storage. They were small but useful. I am glad that we went with a mid range pack n play as the extra attachment features made life moving much easier.

My family knew that the Pack n Play was my main need while moving with a newborn, so they ended up giving this as a gift at my baby shower. My grandmother and aunt went in together on the cost which was really helpful. They ended up giving us the pack n play before we even had the shower which gave us time to figure out how to set it up and a;; essential “move” items for the baby I actually put inside the pack n play so that they would not get packed or hidden as we were storing many things and trying to gather everything and organize for when the movers were coming.

After our daughter arrived and our apartment was packed up onto a truck we were left with just a few suitcases and a pack and play. We left the apartment and stayed with my family for a couple of weeks for one last visit before we headed to Tokyo. We had a small two door car that we were leaving behind and our luggage hardly fit in the trunk. However the pack n’ play could fit just fine.

After our visit we had to leave the midwest for Seattle for a couple of days in which we stayed at a hotel and meandered through the city until our escape to Asia a few days later. the pack n play did fit between the two hotel beds and it also packed up easily once you got the hang of it.

We checked the pack n play at the airport curbside check in so that we wouldn’t have to lug it around but luckily we knew that we would have one constant device to sustain a large amount of our daughters needs. We had no idea about the housing situation when we arrived in Tokyo and how long the wait would be for our place. We also knew that we would not have to rush out and try to order furniture or have it delivered and figure all that out as well. We were not in the mood to try to find a furniture store and buy anything right when we arrived because we knew that we were also going to be pretty busy registering our older child for kindergarten and buying a car.

After a 12 hour flight from Seattle to Tokyo we picked up our pack n play at baggage claim, hopped on a shuttle and checked into our hotel. Ok, so that was a really short sentence compared to what really happened…. but none of that is really pertaining to this post. We were on jet lag +newborn who never sleeps at night but does sleep on plane when parents can not fall asleep = complete haze and no knowledge or reality. But hey we made it work.

Pack n Play was there to save the day. At the hotel we had it up in a few minutes, had a place for her to sleep, a place for her to be safe from luggage being hauled in the room, a changer ready to go, an organizational bin for diapers and wipes handy and all of that good stuff.

After a few days in the hotel my husband’s job moved us into our housing. We really basic used furniture to borrow until ours arrived off of the ship. But it was going to be about two more months before our furniture arrived. We used the heck out of that pack n play during that time!

And currently even though our daughter is now a toddler she still uses the pack n play. When we travel we take it to hotels and she can still sleep in it (although not everyone’s toddler would probably fit the weight limit). She does ok traveling in Japan because she knows the pack n play and is familiar with it. She is uncomfortable as most toddlers are in strange places and it gives her a bit of comfort. (Spoiler alert, even when she was much bigger we still used the play yard feature as a low bed so she couldnt climb out. We skipped a crib completely and went to a big girl bed after the pack n play.)

We have another overseas move coming and even though she is a toddler now, we will still bring her pack n play simply for the fact that sleeping in a strange bed in a strange country in a strange hotel would keep her up all night crying. The pack n play will easily be packed, unpacked, carried in, and all her belongings that she needs to sleep will be there. Not to mention she can play without touching a dirty hotel floor when she wants to hang out with her Elsa doll for the evening.

If you do not have a pack n play because you use a crib… I totally get it. However if you are moving overseas and it is going to be a juggling act I highly, highly recommend investing $150-$200 in a pack n play. The stress that it will save you is worth so much more! I do not know how we would have gotten through without it and Here we are a few years later and we will be using it on our next international move.

Best Diapers

The best baby diapers I have ever used have been the Moony brand. I seriously love them so much that I have considered mailing them to friends and family with babies back in the United States. I have also secretly thought of taking a truckload of them with me when we return to the United States just so we can give them as gifts at baby showers and such in the future. I know it sounds totally absurd but I seriously, seeerrrriously have. I have a few reasons why they are the best for us. We have used and compared many of the brands found in the U.S. as well as a few different options available here locally in the Tokyo area.

  1. Cost – Although there are some brands that are cheaper (Mamy Poko is less expensive and possibly the same company, but I am not positive about this) I feel that the Moony diapers are the BEST price for the number of diapers per pack and for the quality. In my opinion they are very reasonably priced the toddler size large pack is around 1200 yen for 54large size diapers or 84 small size. When we first moved to Japan I was really surprised at the price difference between a box of Pampers or Huggies vs  almost any Japanese brand. Japanese brands were almost ALWAYS much less expensive. And I am all about saving a few bucks if the quality is comparable.
  2. No tape on the legs – Moony diapers have no sticky tape to fasten them. I always had issues with grandparents and daycares putting the diaper tape really tight on my oldest child. I assume this was to make sure there were no leaks around the edges or the legs or the top of the diapers. Sometimes when I would try a different brand the tape would leave a rash on my oldest Childs legs. My youngest child has the same issue with allergic reactions from tapes on the skin. Babies are sensitive! Moony diapers have no tape on the legs. They are made really similar to pull ups. The waist band is flexible and snug but not super tight like a bungee feeling elastic. the legs and a stretch elastic bossier near the leg with an extra little ridge to prevent leaks also. We have not had any problems with leaks up the back or around the legs with these from small baby size all the way up to potty training toddler. Moms hate diaper leaks. We have been spared from this right of passage into potty training land. Thank. The. Lord.
  3. Wetness Indicator – Just as many of the brands we were used to in the states the Moony diapers have a wet indicator. There is a double line that will turn blue when the diaper is wet. The line extends farther than diapers I have used previously so it is still easy to do a wet check. I find that these diapers don’t blur up really huge when they are wet unless if they are truly soaked so its nice to have the blue indicator because you can’t always tell by just looking or even feeling the seat of the diaper. We also use these overnight and have never had an issue with nighttime leaks. I do remember this being a problem with American style diapers and we ended up having to buy expensive special “night time” diapers. Moony diapers have solved that issue.
  4. Style – There are different versions for the girl style and the boy style. I think this helps with the extra absorption  in the right areas of the diaper. The girls version currently has Winnie The Pooh designs but I am not sure what is currently on the boys diapers. They might change the design but I have no idea. I also have no idea how truly different the girls and boys versions are but they are packaged separately. Both the boys and the girls version seem to look like a little sumo outfit (aka Mawashi).
  5. Easy Clean-up – Moony diapers do have a small strip of tape that is on the back. to remove the diaper you can pull the side apart (so as not to have to slide a dirty diaper down the legs for big messes) and then you simply roll the diaper up into itself and then pull the tape tab. This sticks the rolled up diaper together so that you can easily discard it without a hassle. The tape is stuck onto itself on the back so that it expands when pulled and your child will not have the chance of getting tape stuck to their back or legs. It works great.

There are other Japanese brands that are probably comparable. Possibly you can buy them in bulk somewhere but I have yet to see that here in our area of Tokyo. We buy ours from the local supermarket but it is possible you could get them cheaper from somewhere else. I like the brand and would recommend them for having good durability along with a good price. If you are in the US they are a bit more expensive but you can try them out by clicking here.