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Monday, August 31, 2015

Our September theme is...

Mei Tai madness!

This month we'll be focusing on Mei Tais and and the wonderful qualities that keep folks wearing them from the hazy newborn days to toddlerhood and beyond. Mei Tais, or MT's as we sometimes refer to them, are a traditional Asian carrier. Basic anatomy of a Mei Tai includes a square or rectangular body panel, waist straps, and shoulder straps. This simple design is a multifunctional baby carrier that can be used for front, hip, and back carries. We have a variety of options in our Learning Libraries including brands such as Babyhawk, Infantino, Chimparoo, Catbird Baby, and Fidella. 

Mei Tais are easily transferred between caregivers as each wearer adjusts the carrier themselves for a personal fit. They can also be quite compact which is very useful when shuttling to and from activities. They are a fantastic choice if you like the custom fit of a wrap and the ease of a SSC. Additionally they can often be used from day one with minor modifications and do not require an infant insert. They can typically carry up to 35 pounds, although each manufacturer will have different specifications.

There are so many varying styles and modifications for Mei Tais. Each component of the MT's anatomy will differ depending on the maker. When choosing a Mei Tai to try it's helpful to know about the following options...

Waist options:
  • Unpadded means just that- no padding
  • Padded waists may have padding the width of the body panel or may wrap around the wearer
  • Structured includes ring waists, buckle waist, and reverse buckle (tie waist with buckle straps)
Strap options:
  • Wrap style straps tie much like a wrap would and are unpadded
  • Padded provide some extra cush on the shoulders and continue unpadded to the full length
  • Unpadded means just that- no padding
  • Padded/Wrap straps are padded on the shoulders and fan out like a wrap (often seen on wrap conversions)
Body options:
  • Size may be listed as infant, standard, or toddler. Some will be one size although no MT will be a perfect fit from newborn to preschooler. It can be helpful to check measurements before purchasing or try one on from our Learning Library!
  • Material can vary but is often a natural fiber. The body panel may have a decorative print over it. Straps are often a heavier or thicker fabric. Wrap conversions are made in part or whole from a woven wrap.
  • Style of the panel could be flat or contoured and could have seat darts. These factors will change how your little one fits in the seat and have snug of a fit you have as well.
  • Accessories such as hoods or headrests can be a useful feature to support a sleeping baby's head or to use as a cover while feeding. They sometimes store away when not in use. Some hoods are flat and some are shaped like the hood on a jacket.
So, how does one wear a Mei Tai?  If your MT has an unpadded waist you put it on "apron style." That is, you tie the waist straps around your waist leaving the panel to hang down like an apron. The outside of the panel should face towards you. Those with padded waists can be tied on apron style or non apron style. After bringing baby against your chest you bring the body panel up between their legs and up over their back. The shoulder straps will come over your shoulders to cross in the back. You can then bring the shoulder straps to the front where they go over baby's legs- here you can adjust and tie off under baby's bum or bring them back underneath baby's legs to tie off at your back. There are many different ways to tie off in a MT much like a you have options with different carries in a woven wrap. 

Remember, your MT should support baby from knee to knee and the panel should not come past the midline of baby's ear. Their back should not be excessively curved or straight if tightened properly. For a MT that is big on baby it's possible to roll the waist to shorten the panel. You can also cinch the panel to provide a knee to knee fit. We hope you'll come to a meeting if you need any help achieving a proper fit.

As always, we hope to see you at one of our upcoming monthly meetings! We'll be introducing you to the Mei Tais and other carriers in our library, helping you with your carrier of choice, and will be taking any and all of your questions. 
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