The Mei Tai and other simple pack carriers let you easily get your baby onto your back or front and there's minimal bulk to the carrier itself.
Traditional soft pack carriers have little structure and are quite versatile. There are some soft pack selections with more structure. Some also come with built head support for baby – good if you want to carry a very small baby in a back carry.
Choosing Your Mei Tai
There are two main soft pack designs. The mei tai style is a square of fabric with straps coming off each corner. The “onbuhimo” style is also a square of fabric, but there are only straps coming off the top two corners. The two bottom corners have a ring on them. Some soft pack carriers have light padding or a contoured back built in.
Mei tai and soft pack carriers come in a wide variety of designs and fabrics. Choose the one that best suits you and your baby. Since these carriers are a traditional Asian style, you'll find many beautiful Asian prints. Lots of Work at Home moms make mei tais, so you can even support another mom while you carry your baby in style.
Getting Baby Into the Back Carry
Getting your baby into a mei tai or another soft pack carrier is pretty straightforward. Back carries are popular – but first you need to get your baby onto your back!
With both the mei tai and the onbuhimo styles you can “swing” your baby onto your back. Your baby should have good head control before you start using a back carry position no matter what carrier you are using.
- Start on you knees with your baby lying on the carrier beside you. The top straps should be under baby's armpits. Grab the straps and bring them tightly around your baby's chest.
- Gently place your baby over your shoulder (as if you were putting on a diaper bag strap). Bend forward so your back makes a nice table for your baby, and bring one strap over to your other shoulder. Presto! Your baby is on your back!
- You can also place your baby on your hip and “hop” her around to your back. If you're using a mei tai you can put it on a couch or chair.
- Place your baby on top of it so that the bottom straps are coming out between her legs. Sit in front of her so her legs are straddling you a little and tie the bottom straps around your waist. Then using tension on the top straps, pull her against your back and slowly stand up!
The next thing you do with a mei tai is pull the straps up over your shoulders. Cross them for a more secure fit and bring them under your armpits and around to your back.
You don't have to cross them if you don't want to or don't want such a tight fit. You can also tie them (when crossing them) for an especially secure fit.
Pull them under your baby's bottom, then under her legs and to your front. Tie them around your waist.
When using an onbuhimo bring the straps up over your shoulders and to the front. Cross them and twist them several times so they go comfortably down between or below your breasts. Next pull them behind you and thread them through the rings.
The rings should be between your baby's legs (so his leg sits over the strap). Finally pull the straps through the rings so your baby is sitting snugly on your back and tie the straps in front. You're done!
To put your baby into a forward facing position with a soft carrier simply reverse the directions for putting her on your back. Start with a mei tai already tied around your waist and an onbuhimo loosely threaded (be sure to cross the straps behind your back – no need to twist).
The mei tai can offer your very tiny baby support in the front carry with a tie around your baby's back. Place your baby into your mei tai and pull the fabric up around him.
Bring the straps up over your shoulders and cross them behind your back for a secure fit. Then pull them under your armpits and back to your front. Tie them around the front of the mei tai and directly behind your baby's back. You have good support for him now!
A Great Design
Like the pouch sling soft pack carriers are pretty minimal in design, making them easy to take everywhere. They're also pretty easy to use and give a lot of support for a back carry, which makes them useful for doing housework and carrying bigger babies!
Mei Tai carriers come in beautiful fabrics (many of them with gorgeous Asian designs) and are growing in popularity – if you're looking for simplicity and versatility in a carrier take a look!
- Soft backpack style carriers – similar but with more padding and simple buckles to help get them on more easily
- Podeagi carriers are another traditional design
- Baby wraps are very versatile
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Photo by rjp