19 Oct

Educator to Educator: Mei Tai Front Carry

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12143098_10107248425588894_7463171562292447789_nMei Tais are a traditional Asian carrier with a fabric body panel and two sets of straps, shorter ones for the waist and longer ones for the shoulder. These carriers can often be used from the newborn stage well into the toddler years with some minor adjustments. They are easily adjustable between caregivers, making them a wonderful option for families where a number of different caregivers may be wearing baby. Mei tais are also a popular option for petite wearers since the waistband can be tied tight enough and shoulder straps are crossed. With great adjustability for both baby and wearer, mei tais are a go-to in our lending library!

There are a variety of mei tais on the market today. Many have what is called an unstructured waist, meaning there is not a defined, padded waistband, while others have structured waistbands. There are also different shoulder strap types, so it helps if you get to know a few different ones to best assist members. 

Finally, some mei tais are designed with adjustable body panels so you can get an ideal fit for your baby. These mei tais have components that cinch the seat of the carrier to make them more narrow for smaller babies or wider for older babies and toddlers. There are also a few brands that offer the option to shorten and lengthen the body panel height. The adjustability of these mei tais ensures that baby gets a custom fit at just about any stage of wearing. Regardless of what type of mei tai you have, most fold up to easily fit in a diaper bag or purse, making it a travel superstar when you are limited on space but need the comfort of a two shouldered carry and versatility of carrying options.

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Front carry in a Mei Tai

  • Begin by tying the carrier apron style on your waist with a square or double knot.
    • Apron style means to hold the printed front fabric facing your body and hanging directly down from the waistband.
    • Where you tie it depends on how big baby is. For smaller babies, tie higher near the rib cage, for bigger babies or toddlers you may need to tie lower. As always, the goal is to have baby visible and kissable.
    • Tie snug enough you can only slide a few fingers between your body and the waistband of the carrier, not so tight that you cannot breathe.

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  • Once tied on, make sure the body panel is centered and the shoulder straps are straight and not tangled.
  • Hold baby in a natural front carrying position, centered on your chest.

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  • While supporting baby with one hand, use the opposite hand to guide the body panel up between baby’s legs and over baby’s back.
    • The panel should end up at the base of baby’s ears or at the neckline for an infant. For a toddler, the panel should come to at least armpit level.
    • The body panel should never cover baby’s head or face. If you notice it doing this, the body panel is too long.

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  • Hold the body panel and support baby with one hand. With the other hand, take the shoulder straps over each shoulder.
    • Make sure each shoulder strap lays flat over the shoulder and is not twisted.
  • With the hand not supporting baby, reach behind and across your back to take hold of the shoulder strap from the opposite shoulder. Pull back and down on the shoulder strap to pull the slack over the shoulder and behind you. Next, bring the strap across your back and over baby’s back. Hold tension on this strap and support baby with that hand.
    • It is helpful to hold baby close and snug while doing this to help find extra slack in the shoulder strap.

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  • Repeat on the opposite side. Again making sure the shoulder is not twisted, the slack is pulled out and to pull down and then across the body.
  • This will create an X with the straps across your back.
    • Many individuals find it comfortable with this X crossing between their shoulder blades. It may take some experimenting to decide where it is most comfortable for you.

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  • Take a shoulder strap in each hand and pull forward away from your body.
    • Doing a shoulder roll back while you pull helps to tighten the carry up.

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  • Bring the straps over baby’s legs and tie off under their bottom.
    • If you have extra length, you can cross under baby’s bottom and take the straps under baby’s legs to tie in the back.
    • If you tie in back, it can be helpful to tie it slightly off center so you know which knot is the shoulder straps and which is the waistband.

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Regardless of how you tie-off the carry, baby should be snug against your body and visible & easily kissable. Enjoy the snuggles!

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Tips for getting a comfortable fit:

Problem 1: Baby is smaller and the shoulder straps seem to be spreading the seat too wide.

  • Try tying at the top of baby’s diaper or, if the straps are long enough, doing a twist over baby’s bottom before bringing the straps under baby’s legs and to tie in the back.

12074860_10153695298657302_3194679391444506234_nProblem 2: Baby is bigger and the body panel does not go knee to knee.

  • Use the shoulder straps to extend the seat by tying or crossing the straps under baby’s bottom.

 

Problem 3: The shoulder straps are riding up on my neck.

  • Pull the straps off your neck and reach behind your back and make sure the straps are crossing in an X between the shoulder blades. If it is up on the upper back, spread the straps down to cross lower.

IMG_7631_13018862583_l (534x800)Problem 4: Baby seems to be slouching a bit in the carrier.

  • Make sure to hold baby close while tightening the carrier to work all of the slack out of the shoulder straps.
  • Spread the shoulder straps wide along the body panel to fill in the gap on the side of the carrier. Then, cross over the top of baby’s bottom rather than directly under their bottom.

Want more examples? Check out these videos by Rachel and Meredith for additional tips for teaching the mei tai.

Teaching Tips for a Front Carry in a Mei Tai

Teaching Tips for the Mei Tai 

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