A mei tai is not a drink you order at a cocktail bar. A mei tai, pronounced “may tie,” is a baby carrier that is square in body with a strap at each corner. It is a carrier full of versatility and comfort; a quick way to get your baby tied on to you. The mei tai originated in Asia and is now becoming more popular in the Western countries.
You can use the mei tai to wear your baby in a front, back, or hip carry. You can also adjust how high or low your baby sits. Even better is that the mei tai can suffice for all ages (newborn to toddler). The bottom of the carrier is one of the most versatile pieces. You are able to roll the bottom up to make a perfectly fitted seat for your child. If the seat is too wide, you can cinch the seat with a string or hairband, and roll up to help support the knees. When using the mei tai for a back carry, it is best to learn to do this in front of a mirror first. Doing a scoot from your hip to the back with the carrier tied around your waist and the panel over the back of your baby will give you optimal support and security. Using a mirror, you will be able to see if your baby is centered. Please see the video tutorials at the bottom on how to put your baby on.
When you are choosing a mei tai to wear, you can choose a company that has already made mei tais. These mei tai’s offer the basic features of a square body with top and bottom straps. They are easily accessible and will come with a brochure on how to use them.
Sometimes a babywearer will want more versatility with this carrier. They may want pockets, a sleeping hood, leg padding, or more. This is when a babywearer may take the opportunity to order a wrap conversion mei tai (WCMT). Some of the large woven wrap manufacturers such as Didymos, Girasol, etc also make WCMTs with their wraps, which is more expensive than traditional mei tais but less expensive than a custom WCMT. Work-at-home-mom (WHAM) companies will customize a wrap you choose and offer options like these and more. It is a chance to customize a mei tai that has “You,” or “Baby,” written all over it.
When ordering a WCMT, you have top strap (or shoulder strap) and waist strap options. Top straps are usually 60-70” long. The top strap options are padded, padded to wrapped, wrap straps, or hybrid straps. Padded straps are all padded, they do not expand, they are one size width all the way down. The padded to wrap straps are straps with padding on the shoulder, and then it expands out for you to wrap under the babies bum and tie in back. The wrap straps are all expanded, there is no padding. The hybrid straps have a semi-padded shoulder area, but also wrap straps all the way down (it’s the best of both worlds some would say). As for the bottom straps, you can choose to do a tie waist, or ring waist. Shop around, read reviews, see if other babywearers in the community has a WCMT by a company you are considering and see if you can try it on. Also take wait lists into consideration–if there is a long wait list, make sure to estimate your child’s growth and size up accordingly.
A WCMT definitely has more to offer than an ordinary brand, although they are pricier. There are many options you have when purchasing a WCMT. The sleeping hood is a hood that is attached to the carrier that you can tie up to help keep your baby’s head supported. Leg padding is to help the fabric from digging into your baby’s knees. Options like a quilted waist can give you more padding around the front side. You can even add things such as toy or pacifier loops, and appliqué designs. Really a custom WCMT can be all you want or more!
To check if your mei tai is safe, you can pull on the straps to make sure the seams have not ripped. Check monthly, or twice monthly, for any rips in the body or the seams. If you do notice rips or areas where the stitching has become undone, the carrier is not safe to use. Sometimes in WCMTs there can be pulled threads and this can effect the safety of the whole carrier as the thread can pull more and more links out of the weave (this is a consideration with woven wraps in general). If you question the safety of the carrier, it is best to speak with a volunteer babywearing educator (VBE) from your BWI group.
Check out these videos tutorials for instructions on how to use a mei tai
- Front Carry by WrappingRachel
- Front Carry with a newborn by ncbelle78
- Back Carry using a WCMT by BabywearingFaith
- Hip Carry by Steffany Kerr
- Tying Variations by WrappingRachel
And pictures of our lending library mei tai:
Ellaroo mei tai