I have my toddler in the Baby Hawk normally several times a day, so I bought a traditional Chinese style from Pearl River in NY as a backup for when I'm washing the Baby Hawk. I ordered it online though, and it did not come with instructions, which I thought would not matter since I already use a mei tai frequently. I tried to tie it like the Baby Hawk (back only, I have never figured out how to put her in the front carry since I just use the K'Tan for front), but it is way too short for my one year old. It doesn't look that much shorter than the Baby Hawk till I get her in it, but I guess it is enough. I remember reading that the traditional Chinese way is to take all four ends together and twist them or something, but I can't find any instructions online that are different from the ones I already use. Are traditional Chinese carriers just not meant for toddlers, or are they tied differently than the Baby Hawk?
For reference, what I do now it tie the waist, hoist her up on my back, fold the cloth up over her back, grab the long straps, hold them up and bounce her in, then either cross or backpack, lexi twist behind baby, under her legs, tie in front. With the Pearl River ABC I can't even get past the fold the cloth over her back step because if I stood up to bounce her in, it wouldn't even cover her butt! It was a total non-starter and I am just confused why it is so small.
The proportion of the straps are different, so they do not accomodate a front carry easily, as you do not tie the shorter pair of straps around your waist.
This Canadian manufacturer of a modified traditional Chinese mei-tai has links to written and video instructions.
http://www.mangobaby.com/instructions.html See how the back carry has a twist in the middle of your chest to secure it. Baby's weight keeps that twist in place.
I would strongly recommend you keep this carrier as a decorative collection item, if you do not feel comfortable doing a back carry, as most women who use it in the traditional fashion will only wear it that way. Also, the straps are generally not as wide or padded like the carrier shown in the link above or your Babyhawk.
I have not learned the front carry in a mei tai, it was just this different method of tying the back carry that I was looking for and this looks like it. The twist in front method. Thank you very much, these are exactly the type of instructions I was looking for! And they have a picture of someone using it with a child much older and taller than my little one, so even if the carrier shown in the video is a little taller than mine, this should work with my toddler. Off to learn the new method of tying!
I looked up the carrier you're talking about, and to be honest, I don't think I would wear it. It looks like it's being sold as a decorative item instead of meant to actually carry babies. I would be concerned that the material and stitching isn't safe for weight bearing applications. Can you tell what it's made out of and how the straps are sewn to the carrier? That would be my main concern...that the straps aren't attached securely enough, and might rip where they meet the body of the mei tai.
Hi GoGo girl,
I went to take a look at Pearl River's website, and the carrier follows the traditional pattern, whereby the top and bottom straps are each made of one long piece of fabric, encompassing the top or bottom border of the panel.
Given that this carrier is still in actual use today in rural southern China, I do not share your concern. Rather, it is a question of confidence and skill level of the person using the carrier. Since most Westerners do NOT come from a culture where babywearing is common place, it is probably best to proceed prudently when trying something (ie back carries) for the first time. And to just leave the carrier as a decorative item if one is not prepared to invest the time to learn how to use it properly.
I saw how the straps were attached, and I agree that the traditional design makes the carrier less vulnerable than a modern style mei tai, where each strap is attached separately to the corner of the mei tai. My concern though, is that even the area where the entire strap is sewn to the body of the carrier might not be sewn securely enough to hold a baby. I couldn't find anything on the description that indicated that the carrier was actually meant to be a carrier and not just decorative. So if the OP does keep using it, I would encourage her to at least yank hard on the straps (while she is holding the body of the carrier) before each use, to make sure the stitching is holding up.
This is a real baby carrier. They called about some other items being out of stock and the lady I spoke to asked me if I already knew how to use the carrier. At the time I didn't realize it tied differently so I told her I use another one daily and needed a backup. It was really, really clear I was planning on putting a baby in it and not decorating with it.
It has functional straps, if intended for decorative use the long, long straps would have been trimmed because they would look odd on a wall. When Westerners want to put a Podegi on their wall it comes without the straps. I know because I tried to look at pictures of a Podegi and had the hardest time finding any that were non-decorative! The decorative part is the embroidery, not the straps. Plus, it's being sold as a baby carrier, it's intended use, so why would they make a special additional note that it's actually intended for actual use? If it was intended as a decorative item only, that would require a special note in the description.
Also with the traditional instructions FelixMom linked to, it works correctly, in case any further assurances are warranted that it is an actual baby carrier and not a hipster wall ornament. Like any carrier, I will of course check it periodically to make sure it is still safe to bear weight.
It makes me a bit sad to think of these hanging on people's walls, as if to say, yeah, people did this once somewhere, like it's something from a museum. I wish I saw people with carriers everywhere instead of strollers.
Rather, it is a question of confidence and skill level of the person using the carrier. Since most Westerners do NOT come from a culture where babywearing is common place, it is probably best to proceed prudently when trying something (ie back carries) for the first time. And to just leave the carrier as a decorative item if one is not prepared to invest the time to learn how to use it properly.
The instructions are working great, thank you!
I hope I did not in any way imply that I am trying back carries for the first time or that I am not prepared to invest the time to learn how to use the carrier properly. My little one and I have several months experience doing back carries almost daily. Hence the need for a backup carrier- eventually it needs washed! But it seems like you keep worrying that I might not know what I am doing and that's not true, I just had a really hard time finding traditional instructions because before now everywhere, everywhere I looked before they only had the BabyHawk style instructions. I did say I have never learned to do a front carry, maybe this is where you are getting some impression that I am not wanting to learn, or something, but I usually just learn the basic carries I think I will need in any carrier and then go back later and add more carries.
But even if people had never done any carry, I don't think they should be discouraged from learning or that they need to treat mei tai as decorative (especially if, as I had done, they purchased a carrier originally intending to use it as a carrier), because Mei Tais are hugely liberating, and someone doesn't have to earn their stripes or be only from a traditional culture before they have the right to use one. They just have to be willing to be careful and learn.
Having tried the instructions you sent for a few days now, we both seem to find the new carrier slightly more comfortable and easier than the BabyHawk. It seems a bit faster also, and it is safer to untie because all four straps are undone at once and it's not all tangled up with the lexi and deep front cross. I did find after trying it both ways a few times, regardless of the suggestion at the website that the baby would sag if I put it under her legs, we both preferred it to be under. She felt constricted with it over her legs and once she started to slowly squirm out and so we both felt better with it under her legs- She is free to kick and I don't have to worry about having to untie her at a moment's notice (possibly with my hands dirty with whatever chore I am doing)!
Out of curiosity I tried the traditional method on the BabyHawk too, but because of the differences in strap length and the long area of padding on the straps, it does not really seem to take the traditional method well. So I'm pleased to have a carrier now that seems like it will be more practical and easier if I get pregnant again, something I had been worrying about with the BabyHawk since it ties tightly around the waist and I wasn't that into the "high back carry" with all the straps above my chest.
Also the cross in front is less severe somehow, so the "torpedo boobs" effect is not so serious. I could actually wear this in public. With the BabyHawk, I have to either wear the arm-restrictive backpack style carry, or else tie her on and then put on another shirt sort of half-shirt style to cover my extremely accentuated boobs. I couldn't believe there wasn't thread after thread about how to avoid torpedo boobs and how to keep the straps from riding up if you crossed it above the chest in front of the neck, now I know why- a lot of people must be using the traditional method! I mean that and I guess a few people just settle for backpack style or sort out the high back carry.
OP, I am super happy for you! Glad that you are finding your groove with this traditional carrier.
My comments and tone were more for the PP that was skeptical that Pearl River was not the real McCoy. I assure you, I've got a traditional mei tai lying about the house that my parents used to carry me, once upon a time. Alas! They wanted to assimilate to Western culture, so it was in excellent condition, and no photos exist of me being carried on my parents' back. But there are photos of me in a stroller.
Sorry for the straying off topic. My traditional mei tai has the same shape and outline as the one pictured in the Pearl River website. The embroidery sometimes includes chinese characters to bestow good health and auspicious wishes to the baby.
Enjoy creating many shared happy memories with your baby tagging along for the ride!