The ABC of ABCs

Asian-style Baby Carriers, that is. When I think of ABCs, I automatically think of the Mei Tai. Made popular by the Nursing Mothers Assocation (now known as the Australian Breastfeeding Assocation) in the 1960’s, the Mei Tai is traditionally used in China to carry babies on front or back. Mei Tais as we now use them in the Western world are a little different to the traditional Chinese style, but the principle is the same: get that baby onto your body and everyone will feel better.

Traditional style mei tai

A traditional style homemade Mei Tai

Traditional Mei Tais have a square body. The body, or blanket, is the piece of cloth that holds the baby’s body. Most Mei Tais available in Australia and the USA have a rectangular body, which I find better suited to carrying larger babies who need more support behind their back. The other key difference I’ve noticed between the traditional and modern Australian Mei Tais is strap length and width. Longer, wider straps make it easier to tie in different ways, and to spread weight more evenly over the shoulders. Traditionally, Mei Tai straps weren’t tied at all – just twisted and tucked in. Although I understand the theory that tucking in is fine, I can’t bring myself to put my baby’s weight on something that isn’t tied – so long straps are great for me.

Modern style mei tai

A commercially produced modern Mei Tai

My mother in law introduced me to Mei Tais when I was pregnant. She makes her own, and they’re a very traditional cut. I’ve noticed that she is more comfortable wearing hers loose and low, tying the short shoulder straps to the waist straps. I like to keep baby’s weight higher and closer to my body to prevent gravity dragging them down, and cross the shoulder straps behind my back before tying a knot behind baby’s back. But I don’t doubt the safety or effectiveness of her style. After all, she had four babies in less than eight years, and she’s got no back problems from carrying them. And I’ve noticed my babies love being carried by her too.

Which goes to the basic principle of a quality baby carrier: flexibility. You want a carrier that can be worn to suit your preference, not a carrier where you have to change your preferences to suit the only way the carrier can be used.

Are you a Mei Tai lover? Have you tried other Asian-style Baby Carriers (ABCs)? Leave a comment and let us know!

About emmadavidson

An addict who started dealing to support my habit, I have been using baby slings and carriers for a few years now. My children (Sophia, born 2004; Jools, born 2005; Billy, born 2007) are happy to be lugged around town in mei tais, ring slings, soft structured carriers, and occasionally a tablecloth.
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3 Responses to The ABC of ABCs

  1. Mummy Crit says:

    Slowly finding the love for mei tais here. My main problems are: feeling like the straps are going to slip off my shoulders in a back carry; and the shoulder strap digging in to the side of my breast. Padded straps seem to help me in this…

  2. Christie M says:

    I adore my Mei Tai! After DD becoming too heavy for the baby bjorn, )which I did find nice when she was a newborn and I could carry her facing me), plus a sudden onset of pram-hating *lol* I was in the market for a carrier that I could have her on my back.

    I fluked upon buying an Ella Roo mei tai on ebay and have become the biggest baby wearing mama out! I’m not sure who enjoys it more, me or miss 9months… 🙂

    I was surpised to find it it easy to get her on my back without assistance, or even using a chair as some websites suggest. And people stop me to say how lovely it is to see someone carrying their baby and how happy we both look. It feels great 🙂

  3. Robert says:

    The Sling Library is great! I found it on Google, and wish I’d heard about it sooner I’m tlenilg all my friends now. I borrowed a Sleepy Nico and although I really liked the idea of using a soft structured carrier, I found the velcro bits a bit annoying. It was great to find out what I did and didn’t like before buying a new one. I’ve gone for a Beco Gemini now, expensive but I absolutely love it. And I’ll hopefully be back to the library to try a woven wrap when little Holly gets older too. Highly, highly recommended.

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