Traditional Carriers: The Mei Tei

on October 9, 2012

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Image courtesy of Serenely Made Podaegi

The Asian Mei Tai baby carrier is a square or oblong piece of cloth with long horizontal straps that create a waist band and long shoulder straps, which are then wrapped across and under the body of the child and tied off in a secure knot. The length of the straps allow for greater adjustability between different wearers and will comfortably carry children into toddlerhood in a front or back carry. The weight of the child is evenly distributed across the shoulders, and like modern soft structured carriers, the majority of the weight is borne through the hips thanks to the waist band.

Variations to the basic design occur within different countries. For example, in Korea parents would use a Podaegi which was a rectangle with just shoulder straps. Similarly styled is the Hmong carrier of the Northern Vietnamese Tribes which are intricately embroided in designs which offer symbolic protection to the child from evil spirits. In Japan, babywearing was truly a fashion accessory as mothers wore their infants in the Obi or kimono sash.

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Photo submitted by: Amy McCauley (NZ) “Here is my husband wearing our son in our ‘Oyako’ mei tai carrier. I use it at least once or twice every day and love love LOVE it. I’d be lost without it!!!”