Comparing Mei Tais to Woven Wraps

This is not so much an introduction to Mei Tais as it is a geeky comparison.  When I first launched in 2005 I included instructions for both wraps and Mei Tais.  My favorite carriers were woven wraps and Mei Tais and I wanted to teach others about them at a time when there weren’t local groups and spotting other babywearers “in the wild” was rare.  Now that my site is dedicated to woven wrapping, I wanted to find a way to incorporate these images with my oldest daughter from all those years ago.  I don’t have the originals anymore, so I can’t offer bigger versions, but I hope you will enjoy them anyway in the context of this comparison! 

A Mei Tai is a panel of fabric with two short straps at the bottom two corners (waist straps) and two long straps at the top corners (shoulder straps).

Mei Tais are great carriers.  The straps are wrapped around you much like a wrap, for a custom fit without messing with buckles, rings, or other adjustments.  They provide one great front carry and one great back carry.

A Mei Tai front carry is similar to a Front Cross Carry with a woven wrap:

  1. The waist straps of the Mei Tai are tied behind the parents back.  Imagine that the knot in the back is the center of the wrap put behind your back in a Front Cross Carry.
  2. The ends of the wrap come around your waist and cross, making a seat that your baby straddles, just like the body of the Mei Tai panel: the two wrap ends spread over baby’s body from knee to knee and shoulder to shoulder, just like the body of the Mei Tai (but with two layers instead of one).
  3. The wrap ends come up over each shoulder and now they are just like the Mei Tai shoulder straps that come off the top corners of the Mei Tai panel to go over the parent’s shoulders.
  4. Wrap ends or Mei Tai straps cross over parent’s back . . .
  5. . . . and come around parent’s waist to tie in front under baby’s bottom.
  6.  Or, in the case of long straps/wrap ends, may cross between baby’s legs and tie behind.

Mei Tai Front Carry vrs Front Cross Carry in a Woven Wrap
a photo comparison

Mei Tai and FCC both start behind mom's back.

Starts behind your back, with a knot of the Mei Tai waist straps or the center of the woven wrap.

FCC cross is like the Mei Tai panel that holds your baby.

The baby sits in the panel of the Mei Tai on your chest or in the cross made by the wrap as it crosses over your chest.

In both FCC and a Mei Tai front carry, the straps go over mom's shoulders.

Straps come over mom’s shoulders to the back.

Whether in a Mei Tai or Front Cross Carry with a wrap, the straps cross behind mom's back.

Straps cross behind mom’s back.

Tie under baby's bottom with FCC or Mei Tai carry.

The wrap ends or MT straps come around to tie under baby’s bottom.

Of course the feel of the carry is not quite the same despite the similarities.  There is a difference between any panel carrier (Mei Tai, SSC, or other) that supports weight by the straps, and a piece of fabric where the entire panel is also the strap.  Additionally, the straps of a Mei Tai don’t distribute the weight across your back the same way that a wrap does, since a wrap can be spread very wide (some Mei Tais are now made with ‘wrap straps’ for this very benefit).

I find Mei Tai carries to be very comfortable.  However, a wrap carry is always the most cuddly!

I think a Mei Tai back carry is most similar to an Ellevill Jordan’s Back Carry, but without the horizontal pass, and done in a different sequence.  There is not really a popular carry that is just like a Mei Tai back carry or a backwards Front Cross Carry because a wrap back carry with two cross passes only is not nearly as secure as a Mei Tai back carry.

Instead we have the Double Hammock Carry which is just like the Front Cross Carry but with rebozo passes instead of cross passes.  The rebozo passes make the carry very secure, but it is no longer similar to a Mei Tai carry, since the Mei Tai waist straps always come under baby’s legs.

My vintage Back Mei Tai Photo Tutorial:

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