how to wear your mei-tai

October 8, 2010

for experienced babywearers this will be a piece of cake, but for those of you who maybe just sewed your first mei-tai here are some basic wearing instructions to get you started.

you will probably want to practice with your partner or a friend until you get the hang of it.  having an extra pair of hands is very helpful at first.  once you get the gist of it it's much easier to do it alone.  take your time and don't be afraid to start all over if things don't feel as secure as you want.  you and your child should feel 100% safe.

front carry
mei-tai front carry position
1. Tie the waist straps around your waist. (Your true WAIST, not your hips) Securely double-knot the strap behind your back.
2. Pull the carrier up over your chest so that it covers your stomach.
3. Throw the straps over your shoulders.
4. Cross the straps across your back and pull them around the front, near your waist. You'll have a giant X over your back.
5. Leaving the straps roughly in place, loosen up the carrier so you have plenty of space to work with.
6. Pick up your child and hold them over your shoulder.
7. Slide your child down your belly into the carrier. Their butt will rest on the shelf created by the waist strap.
8. Adjust your child's legs as needed, so that they comfortably rest with the knees at the edges of the carrier and their feet flying free.
9. Pull the shoulder straps tight, comfortably distributing your child's weight. Tighten them across your back and around the front.
10. You have two options here:
For small or extra wiggly children you will want to pull the straps around the front and tie them in the center of your child's back. This helps smaller babies stay upright and safe in the carrier and adds extra stability
For heavier children pull the straps around the front by going under their knees and tie them under your child's bum. Crossing the straps under the legs gives a stronger support.
11. Once you have the straps crossed in their final position adjust your child for comfort, you'll probably need to tighten the shoulder straps a little bit before you tie them.
12. Tie using a double-knot.

to remove
1. Untie the shoulder straps from under the bum or around the child's back, supporting your child's weight with one arm.
2. Gently loosen the straps and lower the body, all while supporting your child with your arm.
3. Put your child down, remove waist strap.

back carry
recommended for children over 6 months
mei-tai back carry position1. Tie the waist straps around your waist. (Your true WAIST, not your hips) Securely double-knot the strap in front of your stomach.
2. Pull the carrier up over your back.
3. Pull the straps in front of you, over your shoulders.
4. Cross the straps over your chest. At this time I usually tuck the straps between my knees to hold them in place(ish).
5. Loosen up the carrier so you have plenty of space to work with.
6. Have your partner pick up your child and slide them into the carrier. If you're ready to do it on your own, lean forward and carefully lift your child around your shoulder and up onto your back. Slide them down into the carrier. (Do this over a soft surface if at all possible.)
7. Slide your child down your back, into the carrier. Their butt will rest on the shelf created by the waist strap.
8. Adjust your child's legs as needed, so that they comfortably rest with the knees at the edges of the carrier and their feet flying free.
9. Pull the shoulder straps tight, comfortably distributing your child's weight. Tighten them across your chest.
10. Pull the ends of your crossed straps behind you, underneath the child's legs. Tie them underneath the child's bum. (You can tie the straps around the child's back, like you do in front carry, but I'd recommend having a partner help with that. Bending your arms in that direction is very challenging.)

to remove
1. Sit down on a chair/couch/the floor!
2. Untie the shoulder straps from underneath you child's bum.
3. Gently loosen the tension on the shoulder straps until you can lift your child out, or he/she is sitting safely on the chair/ground behind you.
4. Remove waist strap.

These are just two ways to use the mei-tai, there are a whole host of other ties and holds available to you, including special holds for nursing on the go. You may need to experiment to find the best fit for you and your child. I am in no way a babywearing expert, these are just the ties that have been practical for us. In fact I'm sure someone will come along and tell me I'm doing it wrong. But, both the jude and i feel safe using these holds and that's what's important.

mei-tai safety tips:
• Your baby should be in a position similar to holding them in your arms
• You should be able to kiss the top of their head (unless you're using back carry)
• Do not obstruct baby’s face
• Be aware of baby’s temperature, don’t let them get too hot or too cold
• Do not perform any activities that you wouldn’t normally do while holding your baby in your arms (cooking over a hot stove, using machinery, etc.)
• As you practice with your carrier ask for help in getting the child in and out. An extra pair of arms is a safe idea. If you are alone in public, look for another passing parent who could lend a helping hand if you need one.
• Tie straps with a double knot. For safety reasons I do not recommend a single knot or bow.

*while i heartily endorse the use of mei-tai baby carriers please use caution and common sense.  i take no legal responsibility for the mis-use of any carrier.  the instructions above are from my own experience and may not reflect the best way possible for you and your child.  i am not a babywearing expert.
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