At the Calgary Baby & Tots show—where I was representing Öko Creations and Les Produits de MaYa at a local store’s booth—I also wound up talking a lot about Chimparoo carriers. Many parents and parents-to-be visiting the show had never used a baby carrier before, while others were wondering if something different than their current buckle carrier would be a good choice for them. With a limited amount of time and many questions to answer, I found myself describing the Mei Tai Fit in a nutshell: the perfect compromise between a buckle carrier and a woven wrap.
Like a wrap, a mei tai allows you to wear baby from birth without an additional insert, offers a variety of tying techniques and provides the comforting sensation of wrapping your baby up. Like most buckle carriers, the Chimparoo Mei Tai Fit has a structured panel in which to seat your baby, a waistband, a pocket and a nap hood. Instead of buckled straps, however, a mei tai is secured around the wearer by tying.
Just as every buckle carrier on the market is slightly different, the Mei Tai Fit has some unique features compared to other brands’ mei tais.
You can shorten the body of the Fit and narrow the seat using the toggles on either side of the front panel. This is perfect for carrying a newborn! You thread the straps through lateral canvas slots and around a newborn baby’s back, which is much easier to understand if you watch the demo video. (https://youtu.be/bFQMtHOUFVg)
According to Chimparoo, “The lateral slots angle the straps for a more secure positioning of a tiny baby. When they are used with a baby weighing less than 15 lbs, the slots also increase the tension in baby’s lower back. This helps to keep the back upright, and deters the baby from assuming a curled up position with the neck bent.”
Because Little Miss is over 20 lbs, I’ve not had a chance to test out these newborn-friendly features. One feature I am definitely loving is the widened straps that allow you to spread the tails out around the baby for added support, as you can see in this picture:
This is new to the Mei Tai Fit model, as the previous Chimparoo mei tai did not feature these wide tails!
Tying a mei tai for a front carry is pretty straightforward. Once the carrier is secured around your waist (I wrap around and tie it up front because I’m a bean pole) and baby is seated, you cross the straps in the back and bring them around the front of the carrier, cross them over baby’s bum and back around under her legs and finish by tying at your waist. The trick to using a mei tai is getting the straps comfortably tightened before you tie off and without the straps digging into your neck whereas a buckle carrier is fastened and then tightened by pulling the webbing in the buckles.
The added support of the straps around the bum, the padded shoulders and the crossing at the back make a front carry in the Fit extremely comfortable for me. While I really do not like to fuss with the straps of my buckle carriers to cross them at the back, crossing the straps is a must for a mei tai.
What about a back carry? Okay, this takes more practice. It’s definitely not as easy for me as with a buckle carrier. But I feel pretty, oh so pretty, with those gorgeous woven straps crossed this way and that!
I find it most comfortable with the straps crossed under baby’s bum, but if you have someone to help you, you can spread the straps out across baby’s back like you do in a front carry. Without help, I am only able to cross them at the back, not spread them out.
There are many ways to “finish” a back carry with a mei tai. I only use a Tibetan finish, because it’s the only one I know. I like it, so why mess with a good thing?!
What I love about the Chimparoo Mei Tai Fit:
- Made in Canada & affordably priced.
- Stunning colourways: I get nothing but compliments on our lime Mei Tai Fit!
- Widened straps for extra wrapping support.
- Functional nap hood that stores out of the way when not in use. (Other mei tais I’ve tried have awkward-to-attach hoods that I never use.)
- Padded shoulder straps.
- One-size fits almost every wearer.
- Fully adjustable for a newborn baby.
Disadvantages of mei tai carriers:
(Note that these are not unique to the Chimparoo, and are simply things to consider when choosing a mei tai-style carrier.)
- Long straps drag on the ground when you are tying up, making it less than ideal for use in a muddy or snowy parking lot. (Or near a toilet … lesson learned.)
- Steeper learning curve than a buckle carrier.
- Straps need to be untied to tighten and adjust.
As much as I love our Mei Tai Fit, I confess I am still not converted to this style of carrier over my go-to buckle carriers. I would most recommend the Fit for babywearers who really want the cuddles and “technique” of wrapping but without the steep learning curve. It’s a great compromise if one parent favours a buckle carrier and the other is leaning more towards a woven wrap. The Fit is also a carrier that requires no extra accessories to safely and comfortably wear a newborn, so if you really want something that will work from birth to toddlerhood, the Fit is definitely a great investment.
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