I’ve written before about using a mei tai as a way to back carry your young infant, but it occurs to me we skipped over the part where I tell you how to use a mei tai for a front carry - so let’s fix that! 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. Disclaimer…I may also be a tad partial to mei tais as a Babyhawk was my very first carrier…I blame them for my addiction!
What is a mei tai? Mei tais are traditional Chinese carrier – simply a square piece of fabric with 4 straps. Modern mei tais come with a variety of features – you can read more about those on the mei tai page of our babywearing guide.
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.
So what do I do with this thing? 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. Clear right? Probably not…so here’s a video!
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 skills. Want to make your own mei tai? Check out our mei tai tutorial! Happy Babywearing!