All About… Mei Tai Carriers
Of all my carriers, I think the Mei Tai is my favorite. (I really love wraps, but the MT is a bit more portable and is probably my favorite all-around.)
A bit about MT Carriers in General
MT carriers are a great all-around carrier. Two shoulder straps distribute baby’s weight evenly, which is a blessing for the wearer’s back. The two-knot design is quick and easy to put on. And the carrier is simple enough to still be quite versatile – there are several ways to tie the carrier on depending on what you’re going for. I love the MT for the high back carry, and how easy and fast it is to throw a baby on my back.
Some would consider it a drawback that baby can only ride in a few positions – sitting facing in, sitting on the hip, or riding on the back. I know a lot of parents want to be able to wear their babies facing out. I will admit that I don’t understand why. Some MT manufacturers have attempted to address this desire by devising all manner of ways to bunch the carrier up in the front to allow baby to sit facing forward, but a MT really just wasn’t designed for this.
And there are several reasons why you would not want to face baby out anyway. (It stresses babies out. The legs-dangling position is harmful to baby’s spine.) (That said, if you want to wear a baby facing out with their legs hanging outside of the carrier, try a wrap. If you want to wear a baby facing out with their legs tucked in, try a pouch or ring sling. I do have several customers who wear their babies facing out with legs tucked in using the MT, as well.)
A bit about safety
Are MT carriers safe? Of course, the answer is yes. I wouldn’t sell you something that I thought was unsafe.
When wearing a newborn, (yes! you can!), make sure to tie the shoulder straps behind baby’s back to keep their torso upright and not slouching over. (Note: this carrier pictured here is my uber-compact, keep it in the diaper bag, use in emergencies, MT carrier, that’s why the body is so small and the straps so narrow.) This way of tying the straps helps provide baby’s little back with the support it needs.
With ANY MT, make sure that it’s sewn together well. Check the seams before use. Fabric can wear out pretty quickly, particularly in the washing machine, so taking a few seconds to make sure everything’s holding up well should be part of your babywearing routine.
At Wallypop, we use long-wearing fabrics – high-quality cotton prints are paired with hard-working twills and denims. We use the longest-wearing fabrics we can find to keep your baby safe and to provide you with a good value for your money.
We sew our carriers carefully and thoughtfully. I typically do not use a “panel” design (where the front of the carrier is made of several panels and looks like a quilt block) because each seam is a potential weak spot in the carrier. Fewer seams = more safety. We reinforce all of our seams – topstitching around the perimeter of the carrier to give those seams extra support, and we sew down the straps in several places, ensuring that they will never pull loose.
We also don’t use just gobs of thread to hold the straps in place. I’ve seen some carriers that are sewn all around with a really wide, really closely-spaced zig-zag stitch, which I guess looks safer? The problem with this is that each needle hole is a potential tear spot. Fabric is stronger than thread, so when we’re looking for something sturdy, we’re looking for something with more fabric and fewer needle holes!
Now about Wallypop MT carriers
As mentioned above, we use hard-wearing fabrics in our MT carriers. I try to pick out a wide variety of fun prints for the MTs. I can use cotton prints, bottomweight fabrics, or decorator fabrics. I also occasionally use lighter-weight fancy fabrics (silk, etc) as a decorative outer layer. And, one of my favorite things to use – old T-shirts!
The straps are always a coordinating twill or denim. Twill and denim are long-wearing, sturdy fabrics that won’t fold, unduly twist, or wad up. They’re comfortable without being really heavy.
Our straps are unpadded. In our experience, most wearers are quite comfortable with unpadded straps, once they try them. (there’s a strong bias towards thinking you NEED padding, which you don’t.) The unpadded straps are also markedly less bulky! We do offer padded straps as an option on Made to Order MT carriers, which are just a smidge more expensive than ordering one instock.
We sew our waist straps on straight, and the shoulder straps at an angle coming out of the body. There are millions (ok, maybe 5) ways of sewing on straps, and when I was playing around with designs when I was pregnant and when Wally was a newborn, I settled on this one. I just like it. That’s all. I could never get carriers made with angled waist straps to sit right, and found that the angle I use on the shoulder straps is just the right balance between keeping the top of the carrier snug, and leaving room for the baby.
Our straps are pretty long, and will be perfect for most wearers. We do recommend chatting with us before purchasing your carrier if you have any concerns about fit – I can always make longer straps for you! I can also shorten straps of instock carriers if you’re really small.
The body of our MT carriers is roomy, without being too overwhelming. It can seem like a lot of carrier when you’re toting around a 6 lb newborn, but we recommend rolling the carrier at the waist to shorten the body when wearing a small baby – that’ll solve the roominess problem.