Buying For Baby

Buying For Baby

Kitting yourself out for parenthood in Japan


Originally published on on September 2012

Baby Talk

Bottle 哺乳びん
ガラス (glass), プラスチック (plastic)

Breast pump さく乳器
手動タイプ (manual), 電動タイプ (electric)

Diaper/nappy おむつ
布 (cloth), 紙 (disposable)

Wipes おしりふき
ノンアルコール (non-alcohol), パラベンフリー (paraben-free)

Crib/cot ベビーベッド
布団 or ふとん (futon), 添い寝ベッド
(open-sided crib), クーファン (bassinet)

Bedding sets ふとんセット
固綿マット (bottom mat), 掛けヌード布団 (top futon), 掛けカバー (futon cover), 防水シーツ (waterproof sheet), フィットシーツ (fitted sheet)

Being pregnant and giving birth in a foreign country is unnerving enough for many—but making sure you get all the equipment you need is another challenge. What are the bottles made out of? Do the car seats meet the most stringent safety standards? While some items are easy to pick out, others can be confusing, especially if you can’t read Japanese. Metropolis provides you with a guide to some of the necessities, so you don’t have to order everything from abroad. Unless someone is buying you gifts, that is.

If you plan to use bottles at all, you can choose from glass or different plastic types. Most Japanese plastic bottles aren’t labeled “BPA free,” but as far as we’ve seen, the plastics used don’t contain BPA or phthalates. Some stores, like United Arrows Green Label Relaxing, sell foreign brands (among other items). If you need a breast pump, there aren’t many options in Japan. Most are from one brand (Pigeon), although carries some Medela pumps. Manual and electric pumps are available.

As for disposable diapers or nappies, Pampers is available in addition to Japanese brands at any drug store. Most cloth diapers are pre-folds, but if you’re looking for all-in-ones or Western brands and don’t want to order from overseas, check Loopist (, although has a few. Wipes can also be found at drug stores—a few brands offer alcohol- and paraben-free options.

Cribs or cots are commonly used in Japan, but some people opt for a baby-sized futon instead, which can save money. You can also get a crib that opens to one side to put next to your bed or a bassinet.

Bedding sets are a cost-effective way to get all of your baby bedding items. The set can include anywhere from six to 16 items, such as the bottom mat, top futon, futon cover, waterproof sheet and fitted sheet, although the names of these can vary slightly. Some sets are organic.

Most car seats are made by Combi, but there are some other options. and some online shops carry imported seats. All seats meet Japan’s safety standards, which are lax compared to western countries. However, some seats meet current European safety standards, which means they’ll have an orange ECE R44/04 certification label on the side. If the orange label only has the 自 kanji, it doesn’t meet the ECE standard. If it says “universal,” it can be used in all cars, although stores have booklets to look up your car’s make and model to ensure it will fit.