I love mei tai's but the long straps can make them annoying to carry about with no baby in it. Here's a way to fold up your mei tai in a way which creates a useful handle which makes it easy to sling your mei tai over your shoulder when you are out and about or to hang up for storage. This will work for any mei tai with a hood. The mei tai bellow has a hoodie hood. A flat hood will give you the neatest bundle but other hood styles work fine as long as it has ties. This will work for a half buckle too or any carrier with long straps.
Place your mei tai reverse side up. Fold your straps toward the centre of your mei tai, leaving one shoulder strap free.
Fold the remaining strap into a loop and knot at the base of the shoulder.
Roll up the body of the carrier firmly.
Roll the hood tightly leaving the ties free.
Tie the hood ties to your looped shoulder strap.
Ready to go!
My son has just turned 3 and while he enjoys walking most of the time I am still finding lots of opportunities to babywear (or preschoolwear to be accurate!). I find myself wearing him quite often still although generally not for long periods of time. My son is usually happy to play nearby at home. He is still napping most days but is beginning to give up his nap so sometimes he skips one and will get quite cranky by the evening and want to be with me. I am not always able to hold him on my lap if I need to make tea or get school things ready for the next day so putting him and a carrier will allow me to get on with things I need to do. When he wakes in the morning (and when he does nap) he doesn't wake up gracefully and needs to be held for a while so babywearing is useful for that too.
I try to time outings before lunch (or after a nap) but it's not always possible. I bring a carrier with me so if he gets tired and I can carry him on my back (and finish my shopping in peace!) Sometimes his legs just get tired or he just doesn't feel like walking that day and it's often easier just to carry him rather than persuade him to walk when he doesn't want to (which always results in taking half an hour to walk half a block! I will sometimes carry him too when he is walking very slowly but I need to be somewhere on time (ie the school run) although I find I rarely need to do this now as he usually enjoys the walk and likes to keep up with his sisters but it's nice to have a full buckle in my bag just in case.
Recent other reasons I have worn my preschooler in the last month or so.
We went for a walk and his thongs kept falling off (note to self -don't by thongs for 3 year olds!)
I was visiting my Mum and he was tired so I took him for a walk around the block instead of trying to get him to sleep in a strange bed (then I could just easily transfer him to a spare bed once asleep).
Was late getting ready to go to grocery shopping. It was around naptime but I really did need to get my shopping done so ended up carrying my sleeping son around the supermarket.
I took him for a walk to the park and his legs got tired!
Just because! (cuddles with a preschooler are cozy!)
I have a handy bag which is roomy and comfortable to wear and I still keep my carrier in it whenever I go out with my toddler. I am noticing I am using it less than I once did but I still use it often enough that I am motivated to bring it with me. I usually bring a full buckle. Its convenient for ups and downs, not too bulky, and is two shouldered which distributes my sons heavy weight well. I used to bring a ring sling for short trips but recently my son has been feeling heavy in a one shoulder carrier probably a combination of his weight and me using the sling less so my muscles are not used to it anymore. I still love my ring slings though and use them at home if my son wants to be held and I just want to finish what I was doing before sitting down with him. I still like using mei tai's and half buckles at home but otherwise mostly use those if I am out for the whole day, just because they are a little bulkier to carry just for a short trip. They are great for bigger kids. By tying the shoulder straps in different ways or by wearing the waist apron or non apron and varying where I tie/buckle it, I can customize where I want my son's weight distributed.
All photos on this page show toddler sized carriers. I can carry him in standard sizes still (he's around 50th percentile for height) but toddler fits him very nicely now and is a better height for arms in.
This is an example of the fit of standard size with an older toddler. This full buckle is made from a dyed hemp indio and paired with a Michael Miller - Fantasy Forest. The carrier also features a wrap scrap rainbow tree appliqued on the inside of the pixie hood. Standard size is still a good fit for my toddler. it should fit him well until at least 3. Taller toddlers would grow out of it sooner - probably close to 2 and a half. My toddler is around 50th percentile for height and will be two and a half in two weeks. The carrier is still knee to knee on him. The height is perfect for him as it is easy for him to have his arms out which he prefers. He can still put his arms in if he likes but I don't have a photos of that as he only likes to do that if he is sleepy (and even then not always). When he is arms in the very top of the curved headrest rests on the nape of his neck and the sides of the carrier are an inch or two below the top of his shoulders so it still provides good back support.
Another photo of toddler snoozing - 2 years, 11 months. Standard size can last a long time if you have an average sized toddler or smaller.
Knee to knee support is still good at almost 3.
Toddler size Natibaby Dandelions with a panel of silk Zara She on the opposite side . I originally wanted to make this for summer but it is now almost winter! Nevermind, my toddler in enjoying it anyway. He is two years and five months. I'm happy he still lets me carry him sometimes. He is Mr Independant lately!
My toddler is 2 years and 4 months now and likes to walk at every opportunity! I took him on a bushwalk recently and he walked for an hour. His legs started to go all wobbly by the end and luckily we were almost back at our car as he still wanted to keep walking! But I do get some babywearing time with him sometimes still.
I made sure he only received a few chocolate eggs for Easter as I didn't want him to eat too many but he begged more from his brothers and sisters and still ended up with a tunny ache! But it meant he was happy for me to carry him for a little white until he was feeling better. He fits very well into a toddler size carrier now and still has some growing room.
It was a very windy day, perfect for kite flying so after lunch that is what we did. My toddler got tired running after the kite and wanted up for a short rest and recharge.
And then he was off again!
My mei tai's, half buckles, and full buckles vary in how they fit and how easy they are to modify to fit different sized children. I don't recommend wearing too big a size in half buckle/full buckle. Ideally a mei tai should also be the correct size but they are much easier to modify to fit than the other styles so can fit a wider size range. Mei Tai's and half buckles have no darts in the smaller sizes (so your baby will be held close to your body) but the toddler size does. Darts allow a wider/deeper seat without having to make the whole carrier wider and tend to make the whole carrier fit a bit bigger. Carriers with darts tend to hold your baby slightly away from your body (which transfers the weight mostly to your hips) so I have added darts to all my full buckles to help keep the weight off your shoulders since you cannot offset this weight by tyiing the shoulder straps as you can in a mei tai/half buckle.
If you have Flared Straps (padded to wrap) on your carrier you can use the spread out wrap part of the straps the extend the width of the seat for a child who has begun to outgrow it. It is not essential for a toddler to be knee to knee by the way (one of my daughter was happily carried occasionally up to five years old in a standard size carrier) but knee to knee does tend to be more comfortable and allows a better weight distribution for wearer and wearree.
Sizing is a guide only and is based on my average sized children plus some customer feedback I am always looking for more feedback so if you have any thoughts on sizing I would love to hear from you!
In general if your baby is on the smaller side of average you may get a longer use out of a particular size or if your child is at the top of the charts it may be outgrown sooner.
Quick size guide - if you baby is under a year old size 1 is best, if you baby is over a year size 2 is recommended, and if your baby is at least 18 months then choose toddler. Prefer a mei tai that will you can use across a large age range? - choose size 2 (standard). Want more detail? See below!
Size 1- baby size - from newborn to young toddler. Adjustable base option available (on custom carriers) for legs out carry from an early age. Click on the link for action photos and dimensions. This design has a curved top edge and straight sides but a straight top edge option is available.
Size 2- standard size - suitable for both babies and toddlers. This size has a wider and taller body to support the weight of your older baby and toddler well. Curved top edge for extra head/back support. This size fits best from around 6-8 months but can be used for younger babies with modifications. To use with a young baby the bottom can be rolled up to make it shorter and cinched with a ribbon to make it narrower or baby can be carried with legs froggied inside the carrier. The body is also slightly contoured so when you roll the bottom to make the mei tai shorter for a baby it will be narrower as well allowing a small baby to be more comfortably legs out. The mei can be used legs out (with the bottom rolled) from around 4-5 months. This size mei tai suits babies up to around 2-3 years.
Size 3 - toddler size - This carrier is taller and slightly wider than size 2, with seat darts for a deeper seat. This size fits from at least 18 months to around 3-4 years. Curved top edge and straight sides.
Mei Tais are the most versatile in how they fit. They will fit all sized wearers although if you are plus size you may like extra long straps for tying tibetan or if you are petite (less than a 23" waist) you may prefer petite waist padding to get your waist strap as tight as you like.
Mei Tais are easy to modify for a small baby by rolling the waist band to reduce height or by cinching the base with a ribbon to reduce width for legs out. Mei tai's can be worn apron or non apron style (wearing non apron will increase the height and wearing apron will reduce it). I can also add an adjustable base to your carrier which means you can adjust the width and the waistband will always lie nice and flat and it's easy to roll if you need to too.
The smallest size mei tai I make is 15" as I feel this is fairly easy to modify to fit a newborn and will not be outgrown too soon. A 14" carrier is a better fit for a very small baby and I did use this originally as my baby size but I found that my small to average daughter outgrew it by 12 months. I can make this size on request though if you don't need your carrier to be suitable for toddler wearing.
Please note baby and standard size mei tais have no darts to allow a close fit. I can make these sizes with darts on request but bear in mind they will fit slightly differently (in general they will fit bigger).
Half buckles are not as flexible as mei tai's in sizing and are meant to be worn non apron style. Like a mei tai you can roll the waist and wear apron style but it will sit a little diffferently. Like mei tai's this style of carrier is reversible - just remove the buckles and rethread the opposite way. Small babies can be worn froggied or with the base rolled and cinched (for legs out).
Although half buckles are designed to be worn non-apron style t is still possible to comfortably roll the waist to shorten the carrier or to wear apron style since the waist is padded rather than structured which can let you use the carrier sooner with a smaller baby. Baby size (size 1) will fit from newborn (with legs froggied in or with base rolled and cinched for young babies) until 18 months. An adjustable base in recommend for babies under four months old. You will need to roll the waist for a better fit for babies younger than 4-5 months in a legs out carry. Standard size (size 2) will fit best from around 8-10 months until around 2-3 years. Toddler size fits from around 18 months (small to average sized toddlers will fit best in this size from 2 years.
Measurements for half buckles - The length of the waist belt is 73cm including buckles, but I can make that smaller or longer if you need it. The length of the padded section is 63cm.
Please note baby and standard size mei tais have no darts to allow a close fit. I can make these sizes with seat darts on request but bear in mind they will fit slightly differently (in general they will fit bigger).
Full Buckle/Buckle Tai
Full buckles are the most convenient style of carrier to use but least flexible style sizing wise so I have added another sizing option (infant) to suit for smaller babies. You can cinch base with ribbon if the base is too wide but young babies cannot be carried with legs froggied. Babies under a year fit best in infant/baby size. 18 months is really the minimum age for toddler size (unless your child is very tall) as the body panel is quite tall. Small to average size toddlers will fit best in toddler size from around 2 years and will generally not fit comfortably before this.
Infant (35.5cm x 37cm/14" x 14.5") 4 months - 18 months
Baby/In between (38cm x 38cm/ 15"x 15") 6 months - 2 years
Standard (40.5cm x 42cm/16" x 16.5") 10 months - 2.5 years
Petite Toddler/ In between (43cm x 43cm/ 17"x17") 18 months - 3 years
Toddler (46cm x 46cm /18" x 18") - 2- 4 years
Preschool (48cm x 50cm) 19" x 20" - 3 years - 5 years
Standard Strap (16"/40cm) fits from 158cm to 180cm tall, Australian dress size 10 - 16. If you are outside this size range you may need petite or extra long straps. Petite straps are 14"/35cm and 18"/46cm for extra long. Fit adjusters/adjustable strap is available.
The adjustable base and height option added to on infant or baby size carrier will make your carrier suitable for a smaller baby than stated above. Babies vary in height so some babies may fit in the carrier sooner or later than others - just bear in mind that babies under four months must be well supported in the carrier with no slumping for optimal positioning.
You can choose use a shorter height size to suit a baby who likes arms out or to share between siblings (a toddler and preschooler for example). Some popular combinations are toddler width and standard height or preschool width and toddler height.
I finally got around to converting my Oscha Starry Night Raven so I thought I would test out some ideas at the same time. Firstly this carrier has strap adjusters so two different sized wearers can use the same carrier by allowing you to shorten the strap. This was quite easy to sew and worked great. The only disadvantage of this is that a carrier with this feature is not reversible.
This carrier also have a zip off panel (an idea from a customer) which covers a solarveil mesh panel so it can be made more cozy when the weather is chilly.
The panel has zips on the side and rolls down (secured with ties) to expose the solarveil. This carrier is not reversible although I hoped that it would be when I planned it out (but this shows the importance of always testing things out). The zip down panel turned out to be much less bulky than I though it would be, even with zips on the side so it rolls out of the way quite nicely. This panel has the interesting effect of making the carrier feel more like a carrier without darts but when unzipped the solarveil panel has a bit of give so it's quite like a darted carrier (darts give a deeper seat). If felt fine either way but I did notice I had to bounce my son down more to get a good seat when the panel was zipped up as opposed to when it wasn't.
Action shot - panel zipped up!
Panel open to allow airflow.
I also tested out a foam waist. I used a heavy but still flexible foam. It is stiffer than my quilted waist though so if you would like to do high back carries I think the quilted waist is still the best option. Overall I really liked this waist.
For a beginner a podaegi is easier to use it with your baby or toddler arms out rather than in, and it's also easier not to spread out the wrap straps in a back carry as that can be hard to do at first. When doing a rucksack style carry experiment to see which height works best for you, higher is generally better (although I do like my toddler to be slightly lower than a small baby would be). Small babies should be high enough that you can feel their breath on your neck.
I was thinking of taking some videos myself but since my toddler is a little camera shy at the moment (as soon as I go outside where there is better lighting and background - he wants to hop down and play with his trucks!) I thought I would add some of the best online tutorials I have found. If you know of any more helpful videos let me know and I'll add them.
Rucksack carry (padded to wrap straps with a toddler)
Rucksack Carry (wrap straps and padded, with a small baby)
Rucksack Carry (how to spread wrap straps over your baby for more support)
Rucksack Carry with a toddler (this video shows how quick and easy it is!)
Rucksack Carry with a lexie twist
Back Wrap Cross Carry
Front Carry Variation
Front Carry (how to fold up the blanket so it doesn't hang down)
Hip Carry (standard and robin's)
Rucksack Carry and a Hip Carry (You will need to join DIY Babywearing and Support to view the video)
I love to sew. I have five curious and active kids who keep me busy!