Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The History of the Mei Tai (More fun than history class.. I promise!)

            mei -  to carry on the shoulders
                                                                  tai -  belt; band/ bring

The mei tai (pronounced “may tie”—as in “May I tie this baby on you?” Thanks Kimber!) originated in China and has been around for possibly thousands of years. It is what is also known as an Asian Baby Carrier (ABC) It is a simple, yet strong and effective design, consisting of a square or nearly square piece of cloth with parallel unpadded straps emerging from the sides of each corner. Traditionally the ends of the straps were secured by twisting and tucking them.  These carriers were usually made of simple cloth and typically used by peasant women working in the fields. Weren’t they smart women? They knew even back then that happy baby= more work done!

Apparently you can teach about/draw fish in a mei tai too.

Aside from the mei tai, there are other Asian baby carriers. Many are similar to the mei tai and found in other countries all over the world, such as the  Japanese onbuhimo or the Korean podaegi. (check ‘em out, they are pretty nifty too!)

A variation on the traditional mei tai was popularized in Australia in the 1960s, coming to the US in early 2000s. There are now hundreds of different brands of mei tai available with a variety of features, but the 4 long straps from each of the corners, main squared fabric section, and wrap style tying method are found in almost all of them. Many today also have features such as head supports, pockets, sleeping hoods, and padded straps, among many others. Mei tais are suitable for front or back carries with children ranging from birth to around 35 to 45 lbs (or about a toddler at 3 years.)

And the rest is history!

Check out our young Kimber posing in her Ball Baby Mei Tai with her stylish kidlet in a mohawk.

1 comment: