Did you know you can do a hip carry in your mei tai? It’s super easy and pretty comfortable. Hip carries can be really wonderful. From a hip carry, your baby can see everything that’s going on in front of or behind you. Hip carries are wonderful for speech development because when you talk to your baby in a hip carry, your baby can see what you are talking about and also watch your mouth moving as you talk. If your baby likes to be carried on your hip and loves looking around at everything, your baby will probably love it!
Before we begin the tutorial, the answers to a couple of common mei tai questions:
How do you say Mei Tai?
It’s pronounced “may tie” – as in “May I tie your mei tai?”
How do I know if my baby is ready for a hip carry?
When you are naturally carrying your baby on the hip, your baby is ready for a hip carry. This usually happens some time between 4 and 6 months, but every baby is different! If you’re not sure, ask your local babywearing educator for help. Links to find an educator near you are at the bottom of this tutorial.
Do I tie it like an apron? Or do I tie it on like a Soft Structured Carrier, non-apron style?
This is going to depend on your mei tai. Check the instructions for your particular mei tai. Generally, if the mei tai has an unstructured and unpadded waist, the manufacturer instructions will say to tie it on like an apron (as shown in this tutorial). If your mei tai has a padded, structured waist, the instructions might say to fold waist band and tie it on like a soft structured carrier. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your mei tai. For a full explanation of apron versus non apron, see this post.
Now, the tutorial . . . .
Step 1: Locate the waist straps of your mei tai (these are the shorter straps). Tie the mei tai on your waist. I am tying this mei tai on like an apron with the panel hanging down from my waist.
Step 2: Tie a double knot at the opposite hip.
Step 3: Hold your baby on your hip and position baby comfortably with knees slightly higher than bottom.
Step 4: Spread the panel of the carrier up over your baby’s back.
Step 5: Bring the front strap over your opposite shoulder.
Step 6: Supporting baby with one hand, reach behind you and pull the strap straight down to tighten the carry.
Step 7: After pulling straight down, bring the strap at a diagonal across your back.
Step 8: Now bring that strap back toward the front (taking it over baby’s legs). Hold the strap and baby with one hand.
Step 9: With your other hand, locate the strap right beside your arm. Bring this strap under your arm. It can help to pin this strap under your armpit to hold it still.
Step 10: Keeping one hand on baby, reach behind you with the opposite hand. Locate the strap that you just pinned under your arm.
Step 11: Bring this strap straight across your back.
Step 12: Bring the strap back around to the front (taking it over baby’s leg). Tie a double knot under baby’s bottom.
Step 13: For your comfort, pull the front strap away from your neck, out to the outside of your shoulder.
Now you have a super comfortable hip carry in a mei tai! 🙂 The mei tai pictured is a BabyHawk.
If you prefer learning from videos, this tutorial shows how to do a hip carry in a mei tai:
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The most common mei tai question I hear is this one: How do I tie on the waist?
There are two ways to tie a mei tai waist: Apron Style and Non-Apron Style. I remember when I first heard this I was SO CONFUSED! But it’s actually pretty simple. Apron style is really just like an apron and non apron style is . . . well . . . not like an apron. Take a look:
Apron Style means that the mei tai is tied on just like an apron. You hold the carrier by the waist straps with the panel and shoulder straps hanging down. Face the decorative panel toward you, and tie the mei tai on at your waist. If there is a label on the inside of the mei tai, the label is now facing out.
When you are finished with the carry, it will look like this. The mei tai pictured is an Infantino Sash. The waist band of the carry is between the wearer and baby and the panel makes almost a J shape. The top of the J is the top of the panel and the bottom of the J is between the wearer and baby.
Non Apron Style:
The opposite of Apron Style is “Non-Apron Style” (awesome name right?). To tie non-apron style, you hold the mei tai by the waist straps with the panel and shoulder straps hanging down (just like in apron style). Then you fold the waist band toward you once. Now the waist band is sitting against your waist just like it would in a soft structured carrier. In Non-Apron style the waist band is right side up (rather than upside down as in aprons style).
When you are finished with the carry it will look like this. The mei tai pictured is a Girasol Mysol. See the waist band below the baby’s bottom? The waist band is not between the baby and wearer as it was in apron style.
Let’s see them side by side:
Apron Style (hanging straight down) is on the left. Non Apron style (with the waist band folded once toward the wearer) is on the right.
Compare the finished carry side by side:
In an apron style carry (left), the waist band is not visible from the finished carry. It is between the wearer and the baby. In an non-apron style carry, the waist band is visible from the finished carry, just below the baby.
So when do I tie apron style? or Non Apron Style?
Check the instructions for your mei tai. Your mei tai manufacturer has included instructions that show which way that particular mei tai should be tied. Most mei tais with unpadded waists include instructions for Apron Style tying. Most mei tais that have a structured/padded waist include instructions for non-apron style tying.
Are there any benefits to either method of tying?
Like anything, there are benefits to both. Everyone will have their own preferences and different methods work better with different mei tais.
Benefits of tying Apron Style:
Apron style tying creates a nice deep seat and shortens the panel slightly which can be helpful if you are wearing a smaller child.
Benefits of tying Non-Apron Style:
Non-Apron Style tying can make the panel feel a bit taller, which is helpful if you are wearing a taller child. Some people find that tying non-apron style can make the weight of the child transfer nicely to the hips/waist of the wearer.
So, check the instructions for your mei tai! Try both styles and let me know what you think!
For in person help with your mei tai, find a Center for Babywearing Studies trained babywearing consultant or find your local Babywearing International Chapter. There is also a fabulous map of babywearing groups on Thebabywearer.