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This carrier is based on an East Asian traditional baby carrier which is still in use today. Meh dai (Cantonese) or bei dai (Mandarin) are rectangles of fabric with straps at the top and bottom. Meh dai means “back carrying strap” where “meh/bei” means “carry on your back,” and “dai” means strap. You might also see this type of carrier referred to as a ‘mei tai’, however that term is now considered out of date because it is an inaccurate transliteration.
Meh dais are tie-on panel carriers, which have a rectangular shaped panel that supports the bottom and back of the baby, and two pairs of tie straps, one that fastens at the waist and another that goes over the shoulders and then passes over and under the child’s knees before being tied off. They benefit from a simple design and do not generally have buckles.
Meh dais are usually sized by panel, so a baby sized meh dai will have a smaller panel than a toddler sized meh dai, but the strap lengths are likely to be similar. Meh dais can be used from newborn to preschool age, however you may need to change between a meh dai with a smaller panel for a newborn and a larger panel for an older child.
Because the straps of meh dais are tied around you and your baby, they can be tied to fit you and are thus extremely adjustable to multiple body shapes which means that it is possible for most people to get good supportive carries in a meh dai.
Meh dais may be made from woven wrap fabric, with wide straps that can be used to reinforce the leg and bottom support in a carry (see second and fourth pictures at the top). Or they may be made from standard woven cotton fabrics and cotton twill or corduroy (see top left). The straps may have some padding at the waist band and shoulders (see top left), or have no padding. Some people find padding makes the carrier more comfortable, whilst others find being able to spread the straps and make them cup the shoulder preferable. The Fidella meh dais combine both spreadable wrap fabric with a little padding. Some meh dais are made with hoods, and some without. There are many makers making bespoke meh dai carriers, so it is possible to request the carrier be made to your specification.
Meh dais can be a great warm weather option as the panel allows a breeze into the baby and wearer, and layers of clothing can be added under, or over, the carrier in cooler weather to keep everyone warm.
Meh dais can be tied in such a way as the waistband can be undone without compromising the support, which means they are often popular carriers for people carrying older babies during pregnancy for people who find pressure above or below the bump from a waistband uncomfortable. You can use a hip scoot to get the child onto your back, tie the Meh dai, reinforcing the seat by passing the shoulder straps over and under each knee in turn and then untie the waistband. This is often referred to as tying Podaegi Style, as podaegis have no waistband and are similarly given structure by using the shoulder straps to create the seat. For more information on podaegis see our article All About Podaegis.
There are three main carries available with a Meh Dai- Front, back and hip.
Videos Courtesy of Rosie Knowles at Sheffield Sling Surgery
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