Why Meh Dais?
Meh Dais are a traditional Chinese baby carrier; in its simplest form, a mei tai 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.
I have worked to correct the spelling of meh dai throughout the blog; please let me know if I’ve missed a spot! To read more about traditional carrier names, please see this excellent resource.
Meh dais 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). They are easily transferred between wearers and provide a “custom” fit as they are tied onto the wearer. Meh dais 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 Meh Dais
Meh dais can be loosely categorized by strap style, waist style, and body type:
- 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.
- 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.
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 manufactures offer solarveil carriers and others offer wrap conversions (either the body or the entire meh dai 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). Meh dai 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 meh dais 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 meh dai or removed when not in use. Some are flat style and others designed like a sweatshirt hood.
- Body Styles: Some meh 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?
You can although this is not an appropriate project for a weekend warrior seamstress. It seems simple enough to construct a mei tai; 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 meh dai, we suggest reviewing multiple tutorials to find the best and safest design elements. You can start by checking out our DIY guidelines and our DIY meh dai/onbu tutorial.
Which 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 meh dais (which also tend to be slightly larger bodied) to be more comfortable with older infants and toddlers. Many wearers will switch meh dais as their child moves into toddlerhood.
Meh Dai Carries and Other Information
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