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What is a "mei tai" anyway, you ask?
"Mei tai" (pronounced "may tie") is a generic term for a particular style of baby carrier, generally a square- or rectangle-shaped piece of fabric with straps on all four corners. The "traditional" mei tai has a history that stretches back hundreds of years. The carrier has its roots in Asia, where mothers often carried their babies in simple fabric carriers that tied onto their bodies.
The mei tai style of carrier is now becoming popular in the Western world as well, due in part to its supreme comfort and versatility. With a mei tai carrier, your baby can be worn on your front or your back, from the earliest newborn days through to toddlerhood and beyond. This gives the carrier a longevity not found in most popular carriers, which often can only be used comfortably for the first few months of baby's life.
Many mei tais made in the West today are created by work-at-home-moms (WAHMs) committed to the practice of "babywearing". These "modern" mei tais have usually been updated in a variety of ways to suit the Western consumer.
Your confusion is easily understood, Grasshopper. The babywearing market has exploded in recent years, and there are a wide variety of carriers out there. Wraps, ring slings and pouches are all different types of carriers, and as I mentioned above, "mei tai" is just the generic name for yet another type of carrier. Mei Tai BabyTM is the brand name of the carriers I make and sell. I've been selling mei tais online under the Mei Tai BabyTM name since 2004. Back then, almost no one had heard of a mei tai type carrier, so I thought "Mei Tai Baby" just sounded cool and slightly exotic. Of course now that mei tais are everywhere, it can lead to some confusion. Many carrier companies call their product a "Mei Tai Baby Carrier", and rightly so - that's what it is! But there's only one Mei Tai BabyTM brand mei tai, and you've found it. New Mei Tai BabyTM brand carriers are NOT sold on eBay or through Etsy. The only places online to get an authentic new Mei Tai BabyTM brand mei tai is through my website or from one of the shops listed on the retailers page. A few select brick-and-mortar boutiques throughout the country also retail Mei Tai BabyTM carriers. If you're in doubt as to what you're about to purchase - either new or secondhand - feel free to email me. I remember every mei tai I've made, so I can let you know if you're getting the real deal!
Check out the new In-Stock Shop! The in-stock carriers are pre-made and ready to ship. If you're in a hurry, in-stock is the way to go!
Plus the Build-Your-Own page just keeps getting better and better. Now not only do you get real-scale fabric previews on actual carrier shots, but you get close-up views of the fabrics on mouseover so you don't miss a single detail. Plus now you can select ACTION SHOTS as well! Preview how your favorite fabric will look on the carrier when worn. (It took me *forever* to figure out how to do this, so I'm really proud of the feature!)
Also, no more typing in fabric choices! Just click "add to order" under the thumbnail to pop your fabric choice into the order form. (You can hit "clear" to empty the box if you get a little too click-happy.)
I've added a Guest Book! Click the link on the Customer Service menu on the left to give comments on the site, feedback on your Mei Tai Baby™ purchase, or just to say hello! The Guest Book is NOT the best way to reach me with questions or comments requiring a response. For those types of things it's best to email me.
The Mei Tai Baby™ Zippy is a carrier with removable, interchangeable decorative panels. CLICK HERE for more information. Why is it called the Zippy if there's no zippers on it? An excellent question. It *used* to have zippers in its earliest incarnation. The zippers were super-cool, and I really wish I could have made them work, but they just weren't up to the task. So the zippers were tossed in favor of Velcro, but the "Zippy" name stuck. (The Mei Tai Baby™ "Rippy" just didn't have the same ring to it.) So there you go! (On a related note, if anyone is in the market for approximately 600 bridal-size separating zippers, just let me know. Seriously.)
The buckle-vs-tying thing is really a personal preference. I really prefer the limitless adjustability and ease of tying. You don't have to reconfigure anything to share the carrier between two wearers, and there's nothing hard and plastic-y anywhere on the carrier to potentially dig into the wearer or the baby. I think some people feel like buckling is "faster", but once you've tied a carrier on just a few times it really does become second-nature and you do it in no time at all. Plus I say once you factor in all the time it takes to adjust the webbing through the little slots (which I personally find absolutely maddening), you've negated any time saved by clicking the buckle. Also, with a buckle you're locked into the position that it supports the baby on the side. I'm not sure if that makes sense ... with a tie, you choose where you cross it across baby's back - you can place the ties a little higher or a little lower to add support where you need it. With a buckle, there's one spot
where it clicks in and that's it. If you want more support under baby's bottom, for example, or wish you could move the support an inch higher on your baby's back as he grows, too bad. It clicks where it clicks, know what I mean?
If you think you really want buckles, The Beco or the Pikkolo are lovely carriers, and I'd say you can't go wrong with one of those.
Sure! Customer-supplied fabric is fun, I always like seeing the things you guys send in. For the carriers I need a piece at least 14" wide by 16" high. If it's easier to send more than that I'm happy to cut it down on my end and send back what's left over with the finished carrier. If you're cutting it yourself, bear in mind that only 10"x13" will show in the finished carrier. Also, it's best to put the part of the pattern you want highlighted in the top half of the panel, as opposed to centered. When the carrier is worn, the top half of the panel is what shows the most. Almost any fabric is fine to use, although I recommend avoiding anything super-sheer or very bulky. (Sheer meaning like a see-through chiffon or thin silk, bulky meaning like a chunky sweater knit or very-wide-wale corduroy. The sheers just can't hold up to the wear and tear of carrier use, and the bulky stuff doesn't fit well under the velcro flaps on the sides of the Zippy.) Fabric can be sent to: Mei Tai Baby, 103 Wrenn Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
There is no extra charge for customer-supplied fabric as long as it's just a standard woven fabric like quilter's cotton. If the material is a knit, or something else which requires extra work, an extra charge may be incurred. (Typically it's no more than a few dollars, depending on the amount of work involved.) Please contact me if you have questions about the fabric you're thinking of sending in. I have used materials as diverse as national flags, vintage saris and military uniforms. Let your imagination run wild!
Please email for bulk discount details. Only one discount per order. (Orders may not utilize a promo code AND a bulk discount.)
Limited co-op sales have been allowed in the past. As of April 2013, Mei Tai Baby's co-op policy is under review. It is uncertain whether the co-op program will continue in the future, so please EMAIL ME before planning or opening a co-op sale.
I can ship to any address which can receive mail. I ship internationally via Express Mail International, which *should* take under a week (not guaranteed) and includes insurance and tracking. The cost starts at around $40USD for one carrier outside North America. The exact shipping cost is based on your order subtotal - what you can do is put what you'd like to order in your shopping cart, select your country from the pull-down menu, then click "calculate shipping". International customers are responsible for any import fees, duties or customs. International parcels are marked as "merchandise", I can not mark them as "gift" as that would constitute mail fraud. International customers are responsible for being aware of any import restrictions imposed by their home countries.
Right now Paypal is the only way I can accept payments. You can use your credit card or do an eCheck/bank draft. You do NOT have to have or open a Paypal account in order to pay! There should be a button on the Paypal page which says "Pay Without an Account" or something to that effect. (Or "Pay as Guest" maybe? I think they change the wording sometimes.) According to what I was told by Paypal customer service, if you DON'T see that button, it means that your computer has been linked to a Paypal account at some point in its life. In that case you need to clear the "cookies" from your browser, restart, and go to the checkout page again. Unfortunately I cannot accept credit card information over the phone. I have no way to process cards outside of Paypal, and without a processor your credit card info is just a really long number that is impossible to turn into actual money.
The current wait time on all non-instock orders is about 2-3 weeks. (This is up from the norm of 2-3 weeks. Apologies for the longer time, my sewing place is just exceptionally busy lately!) In-Stock carriers normally ship within 24-48 hours. ALL other orders (including organics and accessories) are subject to the wait time. I try my best to get all packages out within the estimated wait time, but please bear in mind that sometimes delays can occur. If you have a concrete deadline by which you must receive your carrier, let me know before you order and I will do my best to accommodate your needs. Orders received after 6PM go on the next day's queue.
NOTE: The current wait time mentioned above is updated whenever it changes, so whatever wait time is quoted is the best estimate I can give. My sewing ladies are already working as fast as humanly possible, so the construction time cannot be expedited. If you need a carrier sooner than the estimated wait time, please check the IN-STOCK SHOP or one of my retailers for a ready-made Mei Tai BabyTM.
Order to US addresses are shipped via Priority Mail, which the USPS estimates to take 2-3 days to deliver within the USA. An upgrade to Express Mail can be added on the order page, but note that the Express Mail upgrade expedites the SHIP TIME only, the wait time for construction on non-ready-made carriers still applies.
NEW:AS OF 10/3/2010 ALL ORDERS SHIPPING TO ADDRESSES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES WILL SHIP VIA EXPRESS MAIL INTERNATIONAL. I regret the added expense of Express Mail, but due to a large number of packages getting lost in transit, I MUST ship via Express Mail, as it includes both tracking and insurance in the case of loss or theft. ALSO: as of 3/08/2011, due to EXTREMELY long delivery times in recent months for First Class International, the Express Mail policy also applies to Canada and Mexico. One final note about international orders: marking parcels from Mei Tai Baby as "gift" to avoid customs charges constitutes mail fraud. I cannot mark any parcels as "gift". International customers are responsible for any duties or customs charges.
Customers in the US should receive a ship notice from Paypal with a USPS delivery confirmation number when the package goes out. (Note: a delivery confirmation number is not the same as a tracking number. The package is only scanned in at the time of delivery, not at every stop along the way.) Shipping insurance is highly recommended (US addresses only). MEI TAI BABYTM IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PACKAGES ONCE THEY ENTER THE POSTAL SYSTEM. ONLY INSURED PACKAGES WILL BE REPLACED/REFUNDED IF LOST BY THE POSTAL SERVICE.
The Mei Tai Baby™ CAN be used with newborns! Provided baby is nestled down properly in the carrier, the padded edge of the carrier comes up high enough to support a small baby's neck and head. Also, the adjustable feature makes it even easier to use the Mei Tai Baby with little ones. However, some people prefer to wait until baby has some head control before using a mei tai type carrier.
It is possible to wear a baby facing away from your body in a mei tai, and the adjustable option can make this a bit easier to accomplish. I'll be honest though, I have never found this position very comfortable, and many people maintain that it is not a healthy position for baby's developing hips and spine. Often babies who are old enough to want to check out what's going on around them are happy in a high back carry, which allows them to see the world while still being properly positioned. That's the beauty of a mei tai - you have so many options! Try everything and see what the two of you like best.
Okay, here's the scoop: the adjustable feature adds two snap tabs at the base of the carrier. Snap these two tabs together, and the bottom of the carrier is cinched smaller, allowing for tiny babies to comfortably have their legs out of the carrier and still be properly positioned. (Some babies just hate having their legs "froggied" inside the carrier, so this works out great for them!) With the snap tabs, the carrier has two positions: fully-cinched or fully open. Many people are completely happy with just these two "stations" of adjustability. The optional snap tab extender is available for those who would like incremental adjustability. Add the snap tab extender, and you're able to *partially* cinch the carrier in about 1" increments between all-open and all-cinched. If this makes no sense whatsoever, feel free to email and I can try to explain it better!
The Mei Tai Baby™ is 15"x20". The top straps are padded, angled and have a generous finished length of 72". The bottom strap is straight across, unpadded and also measures 72". All straps are 3.75" wide. The Mei Tai BabyTM should fit people wearing a Women's size 2/4-22/24 or a Men's S-XXL. If you are very petite (under 5', under 100 lbs or under size 2) you may want to order custom shortened straps. Unfortunately, since my straps are pre-cut to the 72" length I can cut them down to be shorter, but I can't make them longer than the standard 72".
The Mei Tai BabyTM is recommended for babies up to 35 lbs. (Although the carrier is sturdy enough to handle heavier loads, we've found that 35 lbs is about the max that is comfortable on the average person's shoulders for any length of time.) There is no height limit associated with the carrier.
Yep! All carriers and panels (even the brocades) are machine washable. I recommend washing separately on cold and line drying for best results. The carriers can be ironed, but DO NOT iron the padded areas. Heat will melt the padding and permanently flatten the straps. Do not iron brocades.
I am thrilled there are so many people and entities out there fighting the good fight and supporting babywearing and other forms of attachment parenting! I'm so proud of my product, and wish I could provide everyone with free demo models so more people could see the Mei Tai Baby™ awesomeness in person. Unfortunately, I get dozens of these requests per week, and I'm just not in a position to give that much product away for free. I really do applaud everyone's efforts on behalf of babywearing though, and I wish everyone the very best of luck in their projects.
All Mei Tai BabyTM products can be returned for a full refund (less shipping costs) or exchanged within 14 days of receipt. Returned/exchanged items must be in like-new, resellable condition. Items deemed to be in unacceptable condition when received by Mei Tai Baby will be sent back to the customer and no refund or exchange issued. The customer is responsible for all postage costs associated with the return/exchange, except in the case of irregular or defective merchandise. All refunds are issued in the form of funds returned to the Paypal account used in the original purchase. Refunds are usually issued within 24 hours of order return/cancellation, but refunds can take up to 30 days. All sales final on custom work (defined as custom alterations or customer-supplied fabrics).
Mei Tai Baby warrants to the original purchaser or user that the accompanying product will be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of 1 year from the date of the original retail sales invoice. If during the warranty period, this product is found to be defective because of defects in materials or workmanship, it will be repaired or replaced without charge. Option to repair vs. replace made at Mei Tai Baby's discretion. Prior to returning defective merchandise, notice of a claim under this warranty must be given promptly in writing, in no case later than 45 days after the discovery of the defect. Defective products must be returned, along with the invoice, to Mei Tai Baby at the address stated below. Mei Tai Baby makes no warranty with respect to the natural settling of the strap padding material. This warranty will become void if the product shows signs of careless handling or if the product is ripped or torn. Any implied warranties shall be limited to the original purchaser and to duration of the 1 year limited warranty. All claims relating to limited warranty should be addressed to: Mei Tai Baby, LLC, 103 Wrenn Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
Feel free to send an email to email@example.com with any other questions, comments or feedback you might have. Thanks!