Have you tried a mei tai style baby carrier yet? It took me a little while to warm up to them, but now they’re one of my favorite styles! I love how adjustable they can be and how quick they are to get on in a rush. Sometimes you just need to get that baby up there quick, you know? You’ll find some of my best mei tai tips below to help you get the best fit and be as comfortable as you can.
Mei Tai Tips
- Tie it High - The key to being comfortable in a mei tai is to tie it higher on your waist than where you would normally buckle a soft structured carrier. This is especially important when doing a back carry so that your child’s weight isn’t pulling back on your shoulders. If I’m going to be wearing a newborn or small infant than I like to tie the carrier on just under my bust for a back carry and slightly lower for a front carry.
- Tie it Tight - A mistake I see pretty often is having too much slack in your mei tai’s shoulder straps. There should be no space between you and your baby that would allow them to slouch down in the carrier. The closer they are to your body the lighter they will feel – as they’ll essentially be “one” with you. It helps to tie as tight as you can, wait 10-15 minutes for your child to settle down into the carrier, then tighten and retie.
- Roll up the Waistband - The best thing about mei tais is that they’re so versatile and can easily be adapted to fit your needs. If the body panel is too high for your small baby, you can modify the carriers size by rolling up the waistband before you tie it on. You can alternately place a rolled up receiving blanket at the bottom of the carrier to give your child a boost.
- Cinch the Waistband - In addition to being able to modify the height of the carrier, you can also change it’s width. You can simply cinch it smaller with a hair band to allow for a newborn or small baby to be legs out in the carrier. Don’t have a hair band handy? Some carriers even come with an elastic loop attached for this very purpose, like the Catbird Baby Mei Tai that I was sent free for review. This mei tai features an elastic loop at the base of the body panel.
- Jump - Just a little – to help settle your baby into the carrier to ensure a good seat. A little bounce helps get all the slack out for a tight tie off.
- Wide/Flat Straps - It helps to check your straps after tying to make sure they are spread out as wide and flat as they can be. Any bunching or twists in your straps will cause discomfort over time.
- Try Different Tying Techniques - The straps of a mei tai are made long to accommodate different sized wearers, but that also means there’s lots of length for you to tie any way you please – although there’s some disagreement out there on where you should tie the straps when wearing a newborn. Whether you twist, cross, make a chest belt, tie tibetan, under bum, over legs, under legs – do what makes you and baby feel the most comfortable.
Catbird Baby Mei Tai
All mei tais are basically the same. You’ve got a rectangular body panel with 2 sets of straps. The shorter straps are for tying around your waist and the longer set of straps go over your shoulders. What differs between brands is fabric, size, padding, and extra features. The Catbird Baby Mei Tai is pretty basic, but it does it’s job well.
The Catbird baby Mei Tai is made from 100% brushed cotton, which I find to be soft, but still somewhat structured. The print designs on the carriers are quilter’s cotton from designers like Alexander Henry, Michael Miller, Free Spirit, and Amy Butler. I’m wearing Cho Cho Blossom which was designed by Alexander Henry. It looks almost black in the photos on the Catbird Baby website, but in person it’s actually brown and my photos are a more accurate representation of the actual color.
The shoulder straps are nice and wide AND lightly padded which makes this carrier very comfortable. Not too bulky, but still enough padding to make it cushy for long term wearing. You can also choose to purchase a padded waist belt separately that you can use to make wearing a toddler or bigger baby more comfortable. It’s the same support belt that can be used with their Pikkolo SSC.
The body of this mei tai is both plenty wide and high compared to other similar brands. Haley is 18 months old and about 20 pounds and still has plenty of room to grow in this carrier. Her legs are completely supported from knee to knee and the headrest comes up level with her ears – and she’s quite tall! I love that this carrier works for a toddler, but can still be modified for a smaller baby (see mei tai tips above).
Extra features include a structured headrest and an attached loop to make the width of the carrier smaller to accommodate legs out for small babies (see tips above for more details). I’ve never seen this feature on another mei tai so it’s very unique to Catbird Baby. I’m a big fan of hoods on carriers for sleeping babies, so I’d love to see them come out with one, but otherwise I really like this carrier as is.
The quality is great. Nice, even stitching, and reinforced in all the right areas. I haven’t had any reason to wash it yet, but I’ll let you know how it holds up over time.
Have you tried a mei tai yet? If you’re an experienced mei tai wearer – any mei tai tips to add? What do you think of the Catbird Baby Mei Tais?
You can purchase the CatBird Baby Mei Tai in Cho Cho Blossom, like the one I reviewed, on the Catbird Baby Website for $93. That’s comparable to other similar brands on the market.