When you are travelling with a baby, there are times you need to get baby food at a convenience store. Unfortunately, most convenience stores in Japan do not sell baby food. But don’t worry! There are many other food that you can feed your baby instead.
Baby-friendly food you can get at convenience stores
1. Okayu (rice porridge)
Pouched, ready-to-eat okayu (rice porridge) are available at almost any convenience store in Japan. They are not made specifically for babies, but babies certainly can eat them too. Make sure you get the plain type with no taste. Some okayu have salmon or other flavor. The rice is not mashed, so I recommend feeding them to babies over 8 months old. I always had one of these pouches at home just in case I ran out of rice.
Because they are made for adults, the pouches are pretty big and will be too much for a baby to finish in one meal. When I know I will be using this okayu outside, I take extra Ziploc containers so I can keep the left over for later. The pouched okayu does not come with a spoon.
2. Plain bread
Japan has a lot of plain, soft white bread that babies can eat. There is bread that do not use additives so for young babies you should be careful with which ones to choose. For older babies or toddlers, sweeter, snack-type bread are available too. If your baby cannot eat solid food, you can mix it with milk or hot water to make is easier to swallow.
3. Plain cornflake cereals
Cereal boxes are available at convenience stores too. If they are too hard or chewy for your baby, leave it in milk or hot water.
Not all stores have them, but common fruits like bananas and oranges are available. You may also get canned or pouched fruit too, although these may contain a lot of sugar.
If you are looking for protein, get tofu! They are soft, ready to eat, and healthy. Make sure you know that your baby does not have soy allergy. There are different types of tofu, like hard type (momen, 木綿), egg-tofu （tamago-dofu, 玉子豆腐), and sesame-tofu （goma-dofu, ごま豆腐), but the best is plain soft type （kinu, 絹).
Useful tips of buying food for babies at convenience store
Ask for a spoon
You can get spoons at the store’s cash register. Just ask “supu-n itadake masuka?” （スプーンいただけますか？ May I have a spoon please?). They might give you a big spoon, but if you want a small one, try asking “Akachan youni chiisai supu-n wa arimasuka?” （赤ちゃん用に小さいスプーンはありますか？ Is there are small spoon I can use for a baby?”）. The staff might offer you an ice cream spoon.
Ask for microwave
Many convenience stores have microwaves that anyone can use. But if they only have one behind the cash register, simply ask the staff to warm up the food for you. “Atatamete moraemasuka?” （温めてもらえますか？ May I have this warmed up?). Note that pouched food cannot be used in the microwave.
Get hot water
Free hot water is also available at convenience stores. These are for customers who bought instant noodles or drinks at the store only, but many places welcome families to use it for preparing formula milk for babies. As a manner, make sure you ask the staff first before you use the hot water. “kona miruku youni, oyuwo tsukattemo iidesuka?” （粉ミルク用にお湯を使ってもいいですか？ May I have some hot water for making formula milk?)