Helping mothers keep their babies close is important -- after all, it's where your baby wants to be! Mothers all over the world know that close contact is a vital part of their baby's physical and emotional development in the first few months and years. In China the mei tai is the one tool that allows mothers to stay with their babies whatever they need to do or wherever they need to go.
To the Chinese baby carriers are not just practical things, but special, decorative objects of celebration. Wearing a baby carrier that is beautiful and handmade reflects not only the pride and joy we have in our baby, but also pride in ourselves as mothers.
I hope you find something special here for you and your baby and I hope you will discover the joy and closeness that babywearing brings with the MangoBaby Baby Carrier.
The Twist & Tuck Mei Tai
In China, babies and toddlers in mei tais are a common sight. Parents, grandparents, and siblings alike take babies with them everywhere. Particularly in rural China, and still popular in Southern China, mei taiís and babies are still part of the natural rhythm of everyday life.
Traditionally, the mei tai (pronounced "meh dai" in Cantonese) is given by the maternal grandmother to her daughter when she is expecting. Embroidered with many symbols of luck, long life, and prosperity and happiness, baby carriers are specially made to celebrate each new child.
Although it can be used as a front carrier, mei tais are almost always used as a back carrier because it is more practical. The MangoBaby baby carrier is based on the Twist & Tuck style of mei tai that is popular with the Cantonese, even today. It is the one most often spotted in Chinatowns, or used by your mother or grandmother if you are of Chinese descent. Made with four straps of equal length and not really tied on at all, this mei tai uses a simple twist and tuck that keeps the straps in place.
This style of carrier also traditionally has pockets at the ends of the shoulder straps that can be used to carry small items like change or keys. To give you more options for tying positions, I have added strap extensions that are cleverly tucked away in these pockets.
Other traditional elements that I have preserved are the method of construction, the wide body and curved shaping that keep baby securely in the carrier, and the decorative panel with the traditional marker at the top. For modern mothers, I have updated the look by using modern colours yet keeping an Asian feel within the fabrics chosen for each carrier.
Note: Above painting is part of the Children of Aberdeen series by Kee Fung Ng of San Francisco.
Where your baby wants to be.... the benefits of babywearing
Babies all over the world are carried in simple, traditional, baby slings and fabric carriers. They are portable, versatile, easy to use, and comfortable. But most of all, they support your baby properly and keep your baby close to you, where your baby wants to be.
Often, our first thought when buying a baby carrier is that it will make our lives easier. Wearing a baby frees our hands to do other things, and to take baby with us wherever we go without a stroller.
However, here are some of the many benefits for your baby that you might not have considered in your decision to use a baby carrier:
Babies are more content and cry less. - In cultures where babies are always carried in baby slings or fabric carriers crying is measured in minutes, not hours.
Babies are more 'organized'. - Being separated can be very disorienting to a newborn baby. Wearing your baby extends the womb experience, and helps baby to regulate breathing, heartbeat, and physical and emotional development.
Babies benefit from the sense of touch. - touch is essential to physical and emotional development. Studies show that babies who experience more physical contact by being carried or co-sleeping grow better.
Babies learn faster and are more alert. - Baby is stimulated by everything you are doing, and is learning about daily tasks and interactions.
Babies socialize better. - Because baby is always with you, he benefits from your social interactions with other people.
Babies sleep better. - Many mothers find once they start wearing their babies that not only does it keep their babies content, but the constant movement easily lulls them to sleep. Wearing your baby even when asleep often prolongs sleep for those that wake easily.
Helps prevent flat head. - Carrying your baby more often means more time spent upright instead of lying down, which is hard on baby's soft skull.
You will be more aware of your baby. - Constant contact with your baby will make you more sensitive and aware of her needs. This will help you develop your mother's intuition, and give you more confidence in your new role as a mother.
No wonder it's where baby wants to be!
Why choose a traditional baby carrier?
Traditional carriers come in all styles, varying from pieces of fabric, to animal skins, to simple straps and even the hoods of coats. Many cultures have found ways to carry their babies, without modern straps, buckles, padding, and other paraphenalia.
The traditional baby carrier with which North Americans are probably most familiar with are baby slings. Simply a long piece of fabric, often used with rings or found as a pouch, it is worn on one shoulder and is a very versatile baby carrier. Another very versatile baby carrier that has grown in popularity is a very long piece of fabric called a wrap.
The mei tai has also become very popular among mothers who are looking for a traditional alternative. Basically a piece of fabric with four straps, it is as versatile and compact as a baby sling, but has the advantage of being worn on both shoulders. The MangoBaby mei tai is also designed with extra-wide shoulder straps, which gives it the comfort of a wrap-like baby carrier.
The advantages of using traditional carriers are many, including:
Comfort for You - many mothers prefer the comfort of wide fabric over padding.
Comfort for Baby - the wide fabric supports baby all around, especially the spine and seating area. It's like a big hug, and the closest thing to being back in the womb!
Easy to Use - after a bit of practice, mothers find traditional carriers a breeze to use.
Compact and Portable - a favourite feature for many mothers. It also means you will use it more often!
Fits any Baby - use from birth to toddlerhood - as long as you are comfortable with the weight!
Fits any Wearer - long straps/fabric means it will easily fit anyone including Dad, Grandma, and the babysitter.
Versatile - wear your baby in any of many different positions on the front, back or hip.
Easy and Discreet Breastfeeding - for your baby's frequent and favourite pastime! Don't be stuck to a chair!
Fits Over Outerwear - yours and baby's.
Easy to put sleeping baby down - without waking them!
Traditional baby carriers are so easy, comfortable, convenient and -- beautiful! You'll want to wear your baby everywhere!
Is the MangoBaby for me?
I love traditional carriers, and have more than one to suit different needs, but of course, the mei tai is my favourite. If you aren't sure whether the MangoBaby is for you, see if the following applies to you:
You prefer a baby carrier that is all fabric, with wide straps instead of padding.
It is important that the baby carrier is compact and portable as well as comfortable.
You recognize that it may take a little practice and patience at first, but that traditional carriers are very easy to use.
You prefer to carry your baby on both shoulders instead of one shoulder like a baby sling.
You need a baby carrier that is easy and discreet for baby to breastfeed in.
You would like a baby carrier that will last from birth to toddlerhood.
You would like a baby carrier that can easily carry baby in different positions.
You would like a baby carrier that easily fits different sized people.
For the back carry, you don't mind having straps crossed in front of you, as this takes advantage of the comfort of extra wide shoulder straps. (Or, you will take advantage of wearing it this way at home.)
You prefer to have a baby carrier that is attractive.
It is important to you that the baby carrier is locally made.
I hope that this list will help you decide on the right baby carrier for your needs.