Types of carriers - Mei Tais

Mei Tais consist of a square or oblong piece of fabric (carrier's body) to which four long straps are attached. With two straps you tie the carrier around your waist, the other two straps go over your shoulders to hold the baby in the carrier. They come in lots of different designs. Quite popular are Mei tais made from woven wraps. They differ in size (some are more suitable for a baby and some for a toddler), straps (padded or wrap-like, narrower or wider), shape (some are hourglass-shaped) and strap angle (matter of comfort for the wearer). Some come with a sleeping hood and some without. With some Mei tais you can adjust the body's bottom so small babies can be carried with legs out.

Depending on the size a Mei Tai is suitable from newborn to toddler. If you choose a Mei Tai for a newborn it should be quite small and ideally the bottom can be narrowed (the fabric should go from knee to knee and not be too wide). Also it should offer enough support for baby's back - often the upper back/neck cannot be tightened sufficiently. Some manufacturers say that a newborn can be carried with legs in, but considering that baby's bones are still very soft some orthopaedic specialists advise against it.

With a Mei Tai you can carry your baby in the front, on your back or on your hip. With a bit of practice you can breastfeed when having the baby on your front. A Mei Tai is quite easy to use and spreads baby's weight over both shoulders so it's suitable for most people.
Disadvantage of Mei Tais is that you'll need different sizes when your baby grows because even adjustable Mei Tais won't last the whole babywearing time (2-3 years).

Brand names are e.g.: Bondolino, Babyhawk, Joey Slings, Ellaroo, Kozy Carrier, Napsack, Taitasi, Ocah, Tettitett and many others.

Note: The brand names are listed in no particular order and the list is by far not complete. Their purpose is to give you an idea what there is on the market.

Related to Mei Tais are Onbuhimos, Buckle Tais (Mei Tais with straps that buckle closed) and Podaegis. Also many structured soft carriers are derived from Mei Tais.

Note: Like a ring sling you can sew your own Mei Tai if you have a sewing machine. Check Jan Andrea's website for more information - it's a good starting point.



© Mirjam Brockmann 2009