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Asian Babywearing - Mei Tai Baby Carrier
Seemingly every culture has independently come up with some form of babywearing, dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Take the asian baby carriers for example.
The Koreans invented the podaegi, and others have come up with the similar Hmong carrier and Chinese bei bei. Japan traditionally used an obi, or sash, for a wrap carrier, and the onbuhimo became popular about 70 years ago. You can see variations of these basic designs everywhere from Australia to Sweden to Africa.
Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s felt like my arms fell off after holding a baby for hours on end. I take comfort in the fact that babies were just as exhausting to mothers all across the globe, for thousands of years. In honor of these mothers, I would like to explore the Chinese mei tai baby carrier.
The mei tai was traditionally just a square piece of fabric, with four equal-length unpadded straps that would be twisted together and tucked into place. Being the wusses that we are, Americans have adapted the carriers to have more padding and longer straps for a more wrap-like method. The things really are amazing. To quote Wikipedia: “Mei tais are suitable for front or back carries with children ranging from birth to as heavy as a parent can support (usually between 35 and 45 pounds is the upper limit of comfortable wearing, but in emergencies and demonstrations, small adults have been worn. Wraps can be used through the same weight ranges.)” Anybody else get a kick of that image? I wonder what specifically classifies a “small adult,” and I hope to high heaven that I never have to wear one. Still, it’s nice to know I’ve got the option.