Baby Carrier also known as Mei Tai or Baby Sling is a device which allows an infant to be carried on a person’s back or chest.
Traditionally, baby carrier is used so a mother can continue to do her house work or farming work without leaving the baby alone on bed or crawl around the house. Baby carriers are ideal for busy parents and for babies love to be close with their parents.
What is a mei tai or baby carrier
In its simplest form it is merely a wide strap or belt of fabric which wraps around both the wearer’s upper body and the baby’s body, thus supporting the baby against the wearer’s body with moderate pressure horizontally and from below.
In rural areas of southern China, baby carriers typically consist of a panel of decorated fabric which is attached to two or more belts. The baby rests between the panel and the wearer’s body, with the belts wrapping around both of them, holding the baby in place.
The panel is generally the aesthetic and symbolic locus of the whole baby carrier. Baby carriers are customarily embellished with designs and decorations through the use of a broad range of embroidery techniques. Silk, often hand spun, is usually used for the fine embroidery. The foundation materials can be silk, cotton, hemp or flax. Besides embroidery, certain weaving styles and types of fabric dyeing are also used.
Varieties of mei tai or baby carrier
There are distinctive differences in style, technique and material which are identifiable to different regions and various ethnic tribes in China. Many baby carriers are T-shaped with the tops attached to a foundation material and to long ties which are typically crossed in front of the chest and then to the back where they secure the child under his or her bottom.
Some are one piece carrier and others have two pieces with one separate piece attached and used as the baby’s head covering. The baby carrier straps also vary from styles to styles.
Pictured here is a Hmong / Miao mother and her baby in a baby carrier with one pair of very long straps attached at the top. These straps are wound over the mothers’ shoulders, down and cross over the chest, then back around the baby’s bottom and back around to the front being tied at the mother’s waist. Many groups use this type strap arrangement. Other groups make carriers with a second set of straps at the bottom.
Generally speaking, in China the farther south one goes to the ethnic tribes, the smaller the baby carriers become. A baby is held firmer in a small carrier, and is therefore more secure against the mother’s body while she is climbing the steep mountains in the south.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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