As you can see from the picture above, the mei tai is a square piece of fabric where the baby goes, plus three straps (which essentially work as four straps, although the hip straps are made of one piece, as you can see). With these straps, you can tie your baby to your body in several ways, on your front, back, or hip. The benefits of the mei tai are:This baby carrier evenly distributes the baby's weight between your shoulders and hips. This is one of the best things about the mei tai, because many other carriers strain the parent's shoulders a LOT. The mei tai carrier promotes healthy hip development for babies. The mei tai is very versatile, because you are able to position your baby on your front, back or hip and use different methods of tying the straps, according to preference. The mei tai can be used from birth to toddlerhood. Unlike a pouch sling, for instance, you will be completely hands free.
On the other hand, there is a little bit of a learning curve. Not everyone is likes the straps, although they are very adjustable and can be used to wear your baby under or over a winter coat, for instance. Because most mei tais are very flowery, most men won't touch these carriers. There are some more "manly" versions out there though. In our house, the mei tai baby carrier was the absolute favorite before babies were one years old.
Our mei tais were used starting right after birth to toddlerhood, although the Ergo baby carrier took over as a favorite once the babies got older and heavier. Some of the brands around are Babyhawk, Catbird, Kozy and even infantino has a mei tai. You can also buy a mei tai from a work at home mom on etsy, or sew one yourself. You may like to see our other relevant post: baby carriers the podaegi, to see how this Korean carrier compares to the mei tai.