What is a mei tai baby carrier?
To start with it should be understood that the mei tai baby carrier is a style of sling or wrap as opposed to a brand. So we would discuss one in the same way we would talk about a front facing baby carrier or a hiking baby carrier – there are many brands on the market.
At a very basic level a mei tai baby carrier is a square or rectangular piece of cloth with a strap at each corner, though of course different manufacturers have their own slightly unique take on this. These straps will tie up either infront of, or behind mom or dad’s body depending upon how baby is being carried to create a cross pattern. In this way baby is kept immediately next to the parent and can cuddle right into them.
It is pronounced ‘may tie’ and the literal meaning is to ‘carry with straps or bands’. This style of wrap originated many hundreds of years ago in China but has only recently been introduced in the West as the concept of babywearing has become popular.
The mei tai baby carrier today.
Whilst each manufacturer will be slightly different in style the same basic concept is the same in each. The same advantages and disadvantages listed below will apply to varying degrees. Some may have longer or shorter straps or padding to add comfort for both parent and baby.
What is notable is that there are a whole range of colors and styles to suit even the most fashion conscious of mums and dads. What is also obvious – and strange – is the lack of big brand names who have the mei tai baby carrier within it’s range. There is an Infantino baby carrier in this style as well as a BabyHawk. But others such as the Catbird and Freehand are less well known.
What are the advantages of a mei tai baby carrier?
As with all forms of baby carriers it is down to the personal preference of the parents. What suits one parent and child my not necessarily be ideal for another. But generally the following are considered the positive reasons to opt for a mei tai baby carrier:-
- close proximity of baby to parent. While any form of carrier does this to a degree, a wrap or sling is particularly close. This also makes it ideal for nursing.
- flexibility as to carry position. It can easily be used as a front, back or even hip style of carrier. What is perfect at home – for instance – may not be ideal while out and about. Different situations may require different carrying styles and these changes can be quickly ad easily catered for.
- flexibility as to size of parent. Because the mei tai is simply tied at the required length it can be immediately adapted for any size adult. It can be passed from a large framed person to their smaller partner with ease.
- longevity of use. The mei tai can be used for newborns as well as a toddler carrier.
Regarding the use of ties as opposed to buckles? This definitely comes down to what mom and dad are happy with. It is probably fair to say that ties give that greater versatility and adaptability as baby grows. But many parents will find them more fiddly and time consuming than buckles. And what is more important – just don’t feel them to be as safe and secure.
As already stated – it is about what is right for you that is important.
How to tie a mei tai baby carrier.
Let’s not pretend this will be easy straight away! After a few tries it will become second nature but do avoid the temptation to give up after your second attempt!
front carry mei tai baby carrier.
- Ensure the panel is at the front and then tie the bottom two straps around your waist with them looping right around to tie at the front.
- Pass the two upper straps over your shoulders so they cross at your back and then go around your waist to also tie at the front. This knot may be over or under the material panel depending upon the make (and how you and baby prefer it!)
- Place baby into the front ‘pouch’ and hold him securely while tightening the upper straps.
back carry mei tai baby carrier.
- Ensure the panel is at the rear and then tie the bottom two straps around your waist with the knot at the front.
- Unless you have someone to help you, you will now need to place baby in the correct position. You may be able to do this by leading forward and manoeuvring him onto your back while you pass both upper straps over your shoulders. However – we strongly suggest you sit baby in a chair behind you and place him into the ‘pouch’ from this position before passing the straps over your shoulders to your front.
- Pass the straps behind your back, loop them around each other and then back to your front to tie securely at your waist.
Important – which ever method you use, make sure you tie the knots in a secure manner. Do not use a bow style of knot which may come undone.