Are you a new mom or just looking for a stylish and comfortable baby carrier for your child? Look no further than the Mei Tai baby carriers.
Mei Tai carriers (Meh Dais) have been gaining popularity among parents for their ergonomic design and fashionable look.
Mei Tai is a traditional Chinese baby carrier; in its simplest form, a mei dai is a rectangular cloth body with straps coming off of each corner. Modern manufacturers have each developed their own take on this traditional design, so there is a wide variety of offerings.
In this article, we will explore seven of the most stylish Mei Tai baby carriers that are dominating the market in 2024, so you can find the perfect one to suit your style and needs.
To read more about traditional baby carrier names, see this excellent resource.
Table of Contents
Why Mei Tai (Meh Dais) as a Baby Carrier?
Mei Tai carriers are most easily used for front and back carries, although they can be used for hip carries as well.
Back carries can be done at varying heights (younger babies need a high back carry).
Mei tais are great because they are easily transferred between wearers and provide a “custom” fit as they are tied onto the wearer.
Mei tais are a good middle ground for someone who likes the custom fit of tying that a wrap offers but wants the speed and ease of a soft structured carrier.
Types of Mei Tai Carriers
Mei Tai / Meh Dai baby carriers can be loosely categorized by strap style, waist style, and body type.
Mei tais by Strap Styles
- Wrap Style Straps. These straps are un-padded and are worn on the shoulders much like a wrap would be.
- Padded Straps. These straps have some amount of padding on the part of the strap that goes over the shoulder. The rest of the strap is the same width but without padding.
- Padded to Wrap Straps. Found primarily on wrap conversions, padded to wrap straps start with padded shoulders but fan out to wrap width.
Mei tais by Waist Styles
- Un-padded. No padding on the waist.
- Padded. Some level of padding on the waist; padding may only be as wide as the body or may extend somewhat around the curve of the waist.
- Structured. Some mei tai makers offer a more structured waist like those found on soft structured carriers. These often have buckles; carriers with a buckle waist and tie straps are often referred to as half buckles.
Mei tais by Body Types and Other Features
- Material. Most wraps are made from natural fiber materials; straps and inner bodies are generally heavy material like canvas. Most have coverings of print fabric. Some manufacturers offer solar veil carriers and others offer wrap conversions (either the body or the entire mei tai made from a woven wrap).
- Size. Some manufacturers offer different body sizes such as infant, standard, or toddler – check the measurements provided by the maker or ask if you are unsure about sizing. Other brands come in one size that is intended for all age babies/toddlers (although no mei tai offers a perfect fit from newborn to preschooler). Mei tai width measurements are taken across the top of the waist band; height is measured from the top of the waistband to the top of the center of the carrier (usually it is specified if this measurement does or doesn’t include the headrest).
- Hoods and Headrests. Many mei tais offer hoods and/or headrests that can be used to support a baby’s head as she sleeps. Some hoods can be tucked into the mei tai or removed when not in use. Some are flat style and others designed like a sweatshirt hood.
- Body Styles. Some mei tais have a flat, rectangular body. Others offer seat darts and/or contoured bodies. Seat darts allow for a deeper seat and will accommodate a larger child than a non-darted body of the same width. Some wearers find that a non-darted body provides a more snug fit than one with darts.
Can I DIY a Mei Tai Carrier With My Own Hands?
You can, although this is not an appropriate project for a weekend warrior seamstress. It seems simple enough to construct a mei tai carrier; however, even a skilled seamstress needs to also understand the mechanics of a carrier (where the stress points are for example) to construct a safe one.
There are tutorials available on the web. If you are interested in taking on a DIY mei tai baby carrier, we suggest reviewing multiple tutorials to find the best and safest design elements. Check out my article on how to make a DIY baby carrier.
Which Mei Tai Brand and Style Should I Choose?
There is no one answer to this question as each brand offers slightly different features and fit. In general, though, carriers with un-padded waists are easiest to use with smaller infants.
Most wearers find padded waist mei tais (which also tend to be slightly larger bodied) to be more comfortable with older infants and toddlers. Many wearers will switch mei tais as their child moves into toddlerhood.
My Favorite Mei Tai Carriers
The Cairis Baby Carrier is a simple & stylish buckle waist, tie strap baby carrier.
Cairis means ‘to care for’ in old Scots and this unique baby carrier gives you all the comfort of a woven baby wrap with the ease of use of a buckle baby carrier.
Handcrafted in our Scottish workshop from our specially woven sling fabrics – choose the most comfortable and beautiful baby carrier out there.
Beachfront Baby has been a go-to mom-made source for water baby carriers since 2011.
They sell nice mei tai carriers in 7 color options and ship USPS.
Beachfront Baby Carriers are compliant with the CPSIA and have passed ASTM safety standard testing. They are also a member of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance.
It’s a small business from Ukraine with US stock and a nice collection of mei tais to choose from.
All mei tais are made from 100% organic cotton jacquard.
The shop offers baby carriers, mei tais, baby slings, and twin carriers.
Fidella Fly Tai is a combination of a baby sling and a comfortable baby carrier. The wrap-like cross-over carrier adapts individually to every baby and its carrier.
The Fidella Fly Tai is ergonomic and has the baby or toddler version.
This mei tai carrier can be used in three ergonomic position variations.
Daiesu is an Etsy shop selling gorgeous design woven baby wraps, slings and mei tai carriers, produced in Malaysia and shipped worldwide with very fast delivery.
Daiesu Mei Tai comes with padded to wrap straps for extra comfort to your shoulders, lightly padded waist band for more support, with a detachable hood for flexibility.
Daiesu mei tai carriers have been tested and passed ASTM F2236-16 International Safety Standard and are compliant to US CPSIA regulations.
BaBySaBye is a small Etsy shop selling eco-friendly baby carriers handcrafted in Thailand.
Lots of sales and admirers speak for themselves.
This mei tai is made of undyed brushed twill cotton. Easy to use for people who love the support of wraps but want a more simple-to-use carrier.
The One and Only Mei Tai works for newborns up to toddlers. It has adjustable head and leg support.
Perfect for new moms and especially dads who don’t want to wrap, as well as experienced baby wearers.
Wearing a Newborn in a Mei Tai: Front Carries
The mei tai is probably the carrier I recommend most for newborns – it’s perfect for those who don’t care for the idea of wrapping (or just want something that doesn’t involve 4+ meters of fabric!) but who don’t have babies large enough to use most buckle carriers without an infant insert or harness (or who just don’t like the fit of buckles). Mei tais are compact, easy to care for, easy enough to make if you sew, and just comfy.
What mei tai should I choose for a newborn?
As with all carriers, there’s no one “best” brand. In general, though, mei tais with unpadded waists and smaller body sizes work better for newborns, particularly if you want to wear your newborn or young baby legs out (which is my preference). If you are buying a mei tai specifically for a newborn or younger baby, I would suggest getting one that has a narrower body and less structure.
How to Use a Mei Tai Baby Carrier?
Unpadded waist mei tais are worn “apron style” – that is you tie them on like an apron with the outside of the mei tai (they are reversible so it’s ok if you mess this up!) facing towards you and hanging down like an apron. Baby goes in the carrier which comes up between baby’s legs. The straps cross behind you and come back to the front over baby’s legs. You can either tie under baby’s bum or bring the straps back under baby’s legs and tie behind you.
As with any baby carrier, it’s important to practice before taking your show on the road. If you haven’t already, check out our Newborn Babywearing Safety Basics before trying out your new mei tai babywearing skills.
Wearing a Newborn in a Mei Tai Carrier: High Back Carries
I’ve shared one way you can get a small baby high on your back using a woven wrap – Rucksack Style Back Wrap – in the guide on how to use a baby wrap.
If you aren’t into wrapping, a mei tai baby carrier is another great choice for newborn/small baby back carries For other recommended carriers, check out the newborn baby carriers guide.
Here are a few things to consider if you are thinking about a mei tai for your young baby.
Non-padded Waist Is a Better Choice for a Small Baby
While there are many fabulous padded waist mei tais on the market, I think a non-padded waist is a better choice for a small baby. You don’t really need the extra support a padded waist offers and a non-padded waist allows you to cinch the bottom of the carrier to allow baby to go legs out sooner. You certainly can use a small sized padded waist mei tai with a newborn, but you’ll probably need to stick to the froggy leg position for a while. A non-padded waist mei tai is also easy to wear higher on your back as a padded waist is meant to be worn at your waist or hips.
A Newborn or Small Baby Should Be Worn High in Back Carries
Because you can wear a mei tai high on your back, you can back carry much earlier than you can with a buckle carrier. Remember, a newborn/small baby should always be worn high – her head should be at the nape of your neck. Most buckle carriers are designed to sit low on your hips so you can’t get a young baby high enough to be safe. I also don’t feel comfortable recommending a froggy legged back carry in a mei tai so you’ll want something you can cinch if need be.
What if the Body of My Mei Tai Is Too Tall for My Baby?
If the body of your mei tai is too tall for your baby, simply roll it a time or two to make it the right height. If you mei tai doesn’t have a built in cinching mechanism, you can use a ribbon.
Mei tai carriers often come with hoods or headrests to support baby’s head.
Nervous About Wrapping? Mei Tai Is for You
Mei tais are a nice alternative for someone who isn’t a fan of wrapping. True it does involve tying (although that also allows for a custom fit), but they are quite simple to get on and may feel more secure for someone nervous about back wrapping.
And now, without further ado, here’s the video tutorial of a mei dai high back carry with a young baby.
Remember, always use a spotter (or practice over the bed) until you are very comfortable with the carry. Practicing in front of a mirror can help too. You’ll be a pro in no time!
Mei Tai carriers stand out as both practical and fashionable choices for modern moms. Hope you discover the perfect Mei Tai carrier that not only steals your heart but also elevates your babywearing experience in 2024 and beyond.
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