Updated on October 30, 2016
ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe Carrier Review (+GIVEAWAY)
I received this item at no cost in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.
I may wear Petit Prince a whole lot, but in many ways I still consider myself to be a novice baby wearer. Why is that? Well, I’m most familiar with using a soft structured carrier (SSC). By that I mean a carrier with a structured panel, and structured straps with buckle closures. That’s what I used most often with The Heir (except when he was super new), and that’s what I’ve used most often with Petit Prince. Sure I’ve used a stretchy wrap before, but the world of baby wrapping is a little intimidating, though one of these days I’d love to give it a try. As much as I love my SSCs, I’ve been looking for something that allows a bit more of a customizable fit. Way back when Petit Prince was just four months old, I tried on a Mei Tai style carrier and loved it. I’ve finally got my hands on a Mei Tai of my own, and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to get into it! The Mei Tai feels like the perfect transitional carrier, and the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe has been surprisingly easy to find my groove with! There’s so much to love about Mei Tai carriers, and ByKay’s Mei Tai Deluxe is no exception!
Let me start out with a brief explanation of what a Mei Tai carrier is. A Mei Tai is a baby carrier that has a structured panel and wrap straps. Where with a SSC you have buckles that secure the hip belt, and the shoulder straps adjust in length with a buckle, a Mei Tai has a hip belt that you tie to your desired size, and the shoulder straps are like two ends of a woven wrap. There are a variety of ways to wrap the shoulder straps around yourself and baby, and then you tie it off to secure it. One of the advantages to a Mei Tai style carrier is that the fit can be completely customized to accommodate any sized parent/caregiver, and various sizes of baby and toddler. Unlike a SSC, there’s no adjusting of buckles and chest clips when your partner wants to wear the baby. Every time you put the Mei Tai on, the way you wrap it is perfectly customized to how you want to wear baby.
The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe carrier is a nice lightweight carrier. It is made of 48% linen and 52% certified Oeko-Tex100 cotton, so it’s really breathable for both the wearer and the baby’s comfort. The hip belt is padded, and the shoulder wrap straps are nice and wide allowing them to be spread out over the shoulders and across the back of the wearer. There is an integrated nap hood on the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe that can be cinched up to provide additional neck support, or pulled up over baby’s head and the ties knotted through the loops on the inside of the structured panel to hold it in place while baby takes a snooze. At the base of the structured panel, the width of the carrier can be adjusted. For a smaller baby, you simply button the wings at the base of the panel to the narrow setting. As baby grows, you can button the wings to the wider setting to ensure proper support for baby’s hips and thighs. The waist band of the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe can even be folded over to shorten the height of the panel for wearing a newborn with his legs tucked up in the natural froggy-leg position. Included with the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe is a pair of shoulder pads. These pads can be threaded onto the shoulder straps to provide additional comfort when wearing larger children. The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe can be used for front carries, back carries, and a hip carry. It is designed to be used from birth until four years old.
I’ve been using the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe with Petit Prince for the better part of a month, and it’s been great! I wish The Heir was up for taking a ride in it, but so far I haven’t had any success convincing him to give it a try. I’m going to be perfectly honest here. A Mei Tai comes with a learning curve if you’ve only ever used SSCs before. Yes, you’re going to have to learn how to use it and it may take a few tries to get it right. The good news is, the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe comes with a detailed manual that includes a lot of pictures showing each and every step to gett it on in the various carry positions. The manual shows everything from newborns to an older toddler who can climb up onto your back independently, making every stage of babywearing with the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe easy to follow. There’s even a pictorial demonstration of how to get baby from your front onto your back (it’s sort of similar to a “Walk Like An Egyptian” maneuver that you might do with a SSC). Not sure how you’re going to get baby out after you’re done? The manual covers that too. Thank goodness! Couple the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe manual with online videos of your favourite babywearing educators putting on a Mei Tai, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
The very first time I tried the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe, I started with it in a front carry. The newborn front carry can be used right from day one, and the regular front carry can be used from approximately 2-3 months old. I found this to be quite comfortable even though Petit Prince is pushing 23lbs now. I like to spread the straps up over his bum for added support, and in doing so I found that his weight was distributed much more evenly than when I left the straps under his legs. Spreading the shoulders out also helps to keep the weight off my shoulders. I like to make sure the straps are spread nicely across my back as well. All in all, it’s very comfortable to wear Petit Prince in a front carry with the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe.
Given his size and age (he’s 15 months now), I tend to only wear him in a front carry for very short periods of time. I much prefer wearing him on my back. This really gives me the full use of my arms which is a must when I’m trying to get things done around the house, or help The Heir out at the playground. The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe can be used for a back carry from 6-8 months old. I did try the method of moving Petit Prince to my back following the guidelines in the manual, and it worked out quite well. I had a little trouble getting him centred properly the first time, but got the hang of it after another try. I love using this carrier on my back. Just like I do in a front carry, I like to spread the straps out across Petit Prince’s bum. This completely redistributes his weight so I don’t feel him on my shoulders at all, and that’s awesome. I wear him nice and high up on my back, which I do by tying the hip belt up above my natural waist to start. The manual for the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe shows just one way of finishing and tying off for a back carry, and that method leaves the straps over the shoulders like back pack straps. This works great for many, but not so much for me. I find my shoulders to be a little sloped downwards, so I feel like the straps are slipping if I finish this way. Instead, I do what’s called a Tibetan finish where instead of just tying a double knot around my waist, I bring the end of the wrap strap across my chest on a diagonal and thread it under the shoulder above my chest. Then I do the same with the other side. I spread the strap fabric out over my chest a bit, and then tie a double knot on one side. This finish holds the straps in position on my shoulders and that slippy feeling I get because of my sloped shoulders goes away completely. Plus, I think it looks nice too.
When wearing Petit Prince in the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe in a back carry, I can wear him comfortably for a good long time. It’s great for around the house when I’m cooking dinner, or when The Heir wants to go to the playground in the neighbourhood. After some practice, I was able to get Petit Prince up and secured in a back carry in about three minutes, and we’d both be comfortable for at least an hour or more. I wish that the hood of the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe was more useful when using the carrier for a back carry. Unfortunately, there’s really no where to secure the hood ties when wearing baby on your back. If baby falls asleep and needs head support, you’d need someone to pull the hood up and tie it to the loops that would be behind your shoulders.
The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe can also be used for a hip carry. The hip carry position can be used from approximately 4 months old. I know the hip carry is a popular carry position for many, but it’s not a position I use. The manual for the Mei Tai Deluxe does an excellent job of explaining how to get baby into a hip carry position. This position would be great if you plan on nursing baby while he’s in the carrier!
The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe carrier is one I like to use at home and when we are going for a walk that starts at home. In the dry summer, I could absolutely get this on outside, no problem. Once it starts to get wet and cold outside, there’s a little too much strap for me to be able to get it on quickly without the ends getting soaked. For that reason, this isn’t going to be my first choice for running quick errands or popping into the grocery store. That’s not to say it won’t work out to be that for you, but I’m just not skilled enough to accomplish that yet. I have heard of some baby wearers being able to get a Mei Tai on while keeping the straps inside the car so they don’t drag on the ground during the tying process, but I am just not there. That being said, the way this carrier distributes the weight of your child so evenly without a lot of pressure on your shoulders makes it well worth the effort and time it takes to learn to use it!
- 48% linen & 52% Cotton (Oeko Tex100)
- Wide shoulder straps can be spread out over the shoulders and across the back
- Padded waist belt
- Can be used from birth to age four (up to 40lbs)
- Custom fit every time
- Fits a wide range of sizes with ease
- Accommodates a front, hip, and back carry
- No extra accessories needed to use right from birth
- Breathable and lightweight
- Steep learning curve if you’ve only used SSCs
- Hood could be better designed for increased functionality
There’s a lot to love about the ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe. The wide wrap style shoulder straps are nice and long. Not only can they be spread out over the shoulder and wide across the back, but they are long enough to do some fancy finishes. The cotton fabric of this carrier is really lightweight and totally breathable. I see this being the perfect choice to use during the hot summer months when a little extra airflow makes babywearing much more comfortable for everyone involved. The versatility in how you wrap it around baby and tie it off when you’re finished is wonderful. You can get true knee to knee coverage to maintain that “M position” (knees higher than bum) even when you’re wearing an older toddler. Spreading the wrap fabric out over the bum really helps to increase the support the carrier gives to your child, and takes almost all the weight off of the wearer. I was amazed at what a difference in my comfort spreading that material made! I really like that the waist belt is adjusted simply by tying it as tight as you need it. It’s perfect for getting a custom fit without fidgeting with any buckles. The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe can be used my moms, dads, grandparents, and caregivers regardless of their size. There’s no pre-adjustment needed at all. Just put it on and wrap it up snug. It’s perfectly customizable! This carrier is a great transitional carrier to take you from using a soft structured carrier to preparing you to use a woven wrap, if that’s something you’re working towards.
The ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe carrier retails for $205 CAD and can be purchased from Lil’ Monkey Cheeks. If you’d like to find a retailer near you that carries ByKay carriers, check out this complete list of Canadian retailers.
How would you like a chance to WIN a ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe carrier for yourself? PEC Distribution, the Canadian and US distributor of ByKay baby carriers, is giving one lucky reader a ByKay Mei Tai Deluxe carrier in their choice of Dark Jeans, Stonewashed, or Sand! (retail value of $205) The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents, 18+, and ends on November 15th, 2016. Just scroll down to the giveaway and get your entries in!
Enter the Giveaway
DISCLOSURE: The Monarch Mommy is not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations. Open to Canadian and US residents, 18 years of age and older. Confirmed winner(s) will be contacted via email and have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the sponsor(s). Canadian winners must successfully complete a skill testing question. For questions or to see your product featured on The Monarch Mommy blog contact Stefanie at http://themonarchmommy.com/work-with-me/.