Best Mei Tai Carrier: BabyHawk Review
Updated: July 6, 2016
Best Mei Tai Carrier: BabyHawk is the customization king of the mei tai world. They offer numerous pattern and color choices or you can buy premade designs. While they look great, the company also focuses on safety and comfort with durable construction and extra comfy padding.
FYI: BabyHawk was recently purchased by Moby, another carrier manufacturer. They appear to be keeping the companies separate with their own web sites. BabyHawk is now mostly a custom mei tai manufacturer, selling directly from their web site and a few small baby stores. We’ll update as we receive further information.
If you are a first-time parent who’s never purchased a carrier before, or a veteran parent who needs a quick refresher on what to look for in a baby carrier, click here for our Carriers 101.
How we picked a winner
We evaluate baby carriers with hands-on inspections, reviews by our readers and online feedback. We do not accept free samples from manufacturers—if we purchase a baby carrier to review, we buy it from the same sources we recommend on this site (Amazon, stores, etc). We also meet manufacturers in person at trade events and evaluate product samples and prototypes. We have been researching and writing about baby carriers since 1994. In the 90’s, carriers styles were limited to Baby Bjorn-style front carriers and ring slings. Today the options are endless with Asian style mei tais, hip carriers, backpack carriers and wraps. In this category, we reviewed dozens of front carriers to find the best one.
BabyHawk, the brand
BabyHawk’s first carrier was a mei tai based on a Chinese-inspired approach to baby wearing. In recent years, the company has expanded into a soft structured carrier (Oh Snap!) and a hybrid carrier (Oh Mei!). Best known for their wide selection of fabrics and customization options, BabyHawk carriers are made in California of 100% cotton chino twill.
Why this model
BabyHawk makes two types of mei tais: one for smaller babies up to 40 lbs. (known as the BabyHawk Mei Tai Baby Carrier) and one for older babies to 15 to 45 lbs (called the Oh Mei). This allows for a more customized fit. We like all the unique fabrics including Amy Butler designs as well as florals, Asian prints, and geometrics.
You can custom design a carrier with various options. Start with a strap color (6 options) and main body color (over 40), and then decide whether you want extra long straps ($5), a pocket ($10), toy rings ($5 each) or reversible fabric ($10). Here’s a look at some sample fabrics:
Without all the extras, a basic BabyHawk (without all the custom options) is $90. Over two dozen styles are on the company’s web page. While Amazon used to carry a decent selection, they only have a few Babyhawk mei tais for sale on their site.
Beyond the fabric and customizing options, what about the mei tai itself? What impressed us most are the safety features. The waist strap is one continuous piece of fabric for extra durability. The upper straps are padded for extra comfort and the head rest is also padded. The carriers are prewashed and preshrunk—so you can even throw your BabyHawk in the dryer.
Like other mei tais, BabyHawk can be used in front, back or on the hip. Directions and photos on the web site include how to tie the BabyHawk six different ways. Readers most like the customization options (but be forewarned: customized BabyHawks are non-returnable) and the sturdy but fashionable fabrics.
Flaws but not deal breakers
A few caveats with this carrier.
- Customized BabyHawks are non-returnable.
- The straps can be very long (70 to 72 inches), which necessitates wrapping them around the waist more than once in some positions. This can get complicated when holding baby up with the other hand. It takes practice to learn how to put it on.
- Because you carry the baby very close up to your body, both of you can get rather hot and uncomfortable after a while.
- There are no videos on the web site, but we did find some parent videos on YouTube, here:
Cat Bird Baby Mei Tai$100.00* at Amazon
* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.
With five carrier options, the Cat Bird Baby Mei Tai offers lots of flexibility for baby wearing parents. And with cute color/fabric options and affordable pricing, it’s a great runner up to the Babyhawk.
Catbird Baby makes one of our top picks in the Best Front Carrier category, so we were pretty excited to see them in the mei tai category as well. The company offers both solid color mei tais and patterned, but gives a discount for the solid options. They make the body a little longer than other mei tais so you can use them for young toddlers (although you might want to purchase a support belt if your toddler is really big).
Kozy Carrier mei tais have wider shoulder straps than other competitors and you can customize the fabrics (fewer choices than the BabyHawk, however).
If you have sewing talent, mei tai patterns are easy to come by (about $12 for a pattern) and can be made for quite a bit less than purchasing. Etsy.com also offers hand made mei tais for as little as $50.
A word on safety
Infants under 4 months of age should be placed in a mei tai in a froggy position (knees bent, feet pulled up) facing in toward the parent.
Baby’s head should always be visible to the parent carrying her. And baby’s bottom should be above your waist when he is in the carrier.
To sum it up
BabyHawk takes the crown for best Mei Tai carrier—the customization options are excellent, plus overall ease of use make this one a reader favorite.
BabyHawk Mei Tai
Customization is the biggest selling point for the BabyHawk Mei Tai. Pick your fabric and pattern or buy a premade design. An excellent Mei Tai carrier that is very comfortable.$89.95* at Amazon
* Prices change daily. Shop carefully.