Babywearing Basics Part 4: Mei Tais

Photo by Flickr user Carolinqua

By Mirranda Reinhardt for Pregnancy Awareness Month®
We’ve covered a variety of topics in our Babywearing Basics series so far including why it’s good for baby and an introduction to slings and front strap on carriers. This week, I’d like to talk about Mei Tais; not to be confused with mai tais- the fruity rum drink. Mei Tais are carriers inspired by traditional Asian baby carriers that have been around for hundreds of years.

Mei tais are one of my favorite baby carriers because they are incredibly versatile. I started using a mei tai for the first time with my youngest son, when he was about four weeks old. I still use the very same mei tai now that he’s a 30lb two and a half year old. It has been one of the best purchases I’ve made as a mother.

A mei tai is a simple square of material with four straps sewn into the corners. The lower straps wrap around your waist and are tied while the upper straps go over your shoulders, cross and get wrapped back around your body to be tied under babies bum. It sounds complicated, but it really is quite easy. The design helps spread baby’s weight out across your body, which makes babywearing for longer periods of time much more comfortable.

The most common ways to wear a baby in a mei tai are on the chest or back, but with practice a mei tai can be also be used for hip carries. For moms of two little ones, a mei tai is a great choice; you can wear one baby on your chest and one on your back in two separate carriers.

Like any carrier, there are drawbacks to a mei tai. If you want to carry baby facing out a mei tai might not be for you. Technically you can wear a baby facing out in a mei tai, but it requires baby to be a position that isn’t as natural. If you need to carry baby facing out, there are carriers available that will make it much more comfortable for him or her.  Nursing in a mei tai is also more difficult than in other carriers.

Mei tais are widely available and range from $50-$80 on average; but like ring slings, mei tais are easy to make if you know how to sew. Common mei tai brands include Babyhawk, Kozy Carrier and Ellaroo.

If you’re looking for an easy to use carrier that can really go the distance from birth to toddlerhood, a mei tai may be the perfect option for you. The time tested design lets baby ride comfortably in a variety of positions.

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