Mei Tai carriers (also termed Meh Dais carriers) are traditional Chinese baby carriers; the classic design consists of a rectangular fabric body panel that wraps under the babies bottom and over the babies back. Two sets of fabric straps attached to the main panel are then placed around the adult’s waist and neck to support the baby’s weight. They offer a perfect solution for parents who aren’t keen on the idea of wrapping but don’t have an infant large enough to use other types of baby carriers.
Mei Tais are simple to use, comfortable, small and hygienic. Many Mei Tais on offer doesn’t always resemble traditional ones, hence why many variations are often referred to as “Asian Style” to reflect this, although they are alike too many users in China today.
Should you Use a Mei Tai Carrier?
Mei Tais are most suitable for carrying newborns until toddler age and are a practical way for parents and adult carers to transport infants not yet large enough to use other types of carriers. The general rule is that if your baby’s head and neck is supported by the Mei Tai, they can certainly use it.
Other benefits of a Mei Tai include the ability of the fabric to easily adjust to fit different size bodies and that they are easy to lower into a good position for nursing. Parents often find that it’s quite easy to tell when it’s time to transition to a buckle style carrier – their baby becomes too heavy to be supported by the fabric straps.
Our Top Picks
Infantino Sash Mei Tai Carrier
This carrier is made from a highly breathable fabric meaning it won’t get too hot, which is a common issue in many designs. The versatile design means it can be used in three different ways, making it ideal for a variety of scenarios, including walks in the park, breastfeeding and more intimate bonding with your child. Carrying styles include facing in, hip hugging and backpack.
The styling is unisex and features a classic floral pattern on the fabric panel, which is both extremely durable and machine washable. An advantage of the Infantino is that it comes with a detachable hood, ideal for protecting your infant from harsh weather conditions, or for discreetly breastfeeding your baby in public.
The strap design supports your baby’s weight and holds them in position securely, while the lumbar straps help to ease shoulder pressure, creating a healthy balance. The straps are wide and have considerable padding, preventing them from digging into your shoulders. This Mei Tai is adjustable, meaning it can comfortably fit women of all shapes and sizes, including plus-sized women.
BabyHawk by Moby Baby Meh Dai (Mei Tei) Carrier
The baby hawk Mei Tei carrier is perfect for parents who want the traditional support and custom fit of a Mei Tei, but also appreciate a more structured and ergonomic design, often more desired for older infants with a bit more weight on them. The design is unique to other Mei Teis in that the normal fabric panel is more structured, stiffer and contours to a baby’s body better than other designs, for superior head and neck support.
There are two purchasing options with the BabyHawk, a purely traditional Mei Tei that has the fabric tie-around straps, as well as a buckle option. The latter has padded straps worn just like the traditional version, while the bottom is a foam padded strap that proves additional comfort and support, ideal for bigger babies.
Made in the USA, the design itself is incredibly durable, reversible and is machine washable. There are a variety of different designs and colors available to cater to a range of tastes and both baby boys and girls. A big advantage of a Meh Dai is the custom-fit feel, and this design provides a snug and supportive fit for every size, all the way up to XXL.
Suse’s Kinder One and Only Mei Tai Baby Carrier
If you are on the search for a more traditional style Mei Tai, but one that also provides additional support to the head and neck, then this adjustable carrier by Suse’s Kinder is a good choice if you are looking for a snugger and custom fit, benefiting both baby and adult.
The major benefit of this design is that it can be adjusted in multiple ways, allowing you to customize the fit as your baby grows; this includes a waistband, panel synch and velcro down smaller, making it fit the contours of your baby’s body for maximum comfort. The hood is also adjustable and can be buttoned to 3 different heights for maximum neck support.
Being made from cotton it is comfortable, easy to clean and has a much thicker appearance than many other designs, which is reassuring to see when holding your little one. It is only available in white, yet this could be an advantage, since it will keep cooler in the sun and is probably easier to keep tabs on dirt build-up, helping to maintain good hygiene for you and your baby.
Maman Kangourou Asiatik Mei Tai Soft Baby Carrier
A common concern for parents who use wraps is a lack of head and neck support, but they also see the advantage of using a Mei Tai due to the highly customizable and snug fit. The Maman offers an innovative solution to this by utilizing an ergonomic back panel that spans from bottom to the top of the head, allowing for long periods of babywearing.
The choice of fabric has also been carefully considered, a highly absorbent blend of cotton and polyester used for the main back panel and straps. This means moisture from you and baby won’t stick around for long and the risk of damp patches will be reduced. It can also be machine washed, making it convenient and efficient to maintain good hygiene practices.
The straps are traditional in style, one set being positioned around the back and shoulders, providing major support, while an adjustable strap is tied around the lumbar area to help ease pressure on the lower back. The straps are unique in that they are elastic as opposed to just being cotton fabric; this has the advantage of a snugger fit that grips to the contours of your body.
How do you use a Meh Dais/Mei Tai baby Carrier?
Mei Tai carriers can vary tremendously in design and style, so it’s important that you always check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to wear their specific design safely before you start to use it. However, generally, the first step involves wearing your Mei Tai “apron style”, which is achieved by tying the bottom straps around your waist; ensuring that it’s snug to your body and a double knot is the usual recommendation. Next, you would carefully hold your newborn and place the Meh Tai on your shoulders and back underneath your arms, ensuring they cross over one another. Lastly, you would tie the straps in a knot behind your babies back ensuring your babies weight is on their bottom and the natural curve of their spine is not compromised.
When you are first starting out, it’s probably a wise idea to have another person with you to provide an extra pair of hands, until you get the hang of how to do it efficiently and safely. For a more in-depth and visual explanation of how to wear a Mei Tai you can find a lot of helpful videos on Youtube, like this one for example:
As well as on the front, Mas Dais can also be worn on the back, as well as for carrying on the hip. Carrying on the back can be done for babies at a wide range of heights, while younger infants need to be carried higher on the back. They offer a custom fit for any wearer and can be worn in a variety of ways. The bottom line is that they are ideal for those wanting a customizable fit that wrap carriers provide, but also want the efficiency and effortlessness of a structured baby carrier.
Can you Make Your Own Mei Tai?
If you have access to the right fabric and sewing equipment you can certainly make an attempt at making your own Mei Tai, however, we wouldn’t recommend it to the inexperienced seamstress. It may appear simple enough at a first glance, but you really need to be aware of all the necessary stress points and have a good grasp of different stitching styles that reinforce carriers in these areas. For this reason, we would recommend purchasing one as they are relatively inexpensive and offer maximum peace of mind, which is most important when the safety of your child is concerned.
However, if you are committed to making your own and think you have the necessary skills and experience, then this DIY Mei Tai guide by Grumbles & Grunts is worth a read. It provides all the necessary instructions and details on making the correct fabric choices, measurements, required equipment sewing and more.
Mei Tais are ideal for newborns and babies not yet large enough to utilize buckle style carriers. Due to their popularity, many brands have added innovative features to the classic style to make them more comfortable and to provide a better fit to a wide range of body types.
Ultimately, the Mei Tai you choose is down to personal preference, do you want to wear it indoors mostly? Or do you want to use it when breastfeeding? If so, you may want to consider a design that features a more discreet design, such as a hood. Elastic materials and features that allow for a snugger fit may offer extra reassurance to many parents too.