Monday, September 19, 2011

Mandarin Mondays: 背带

Here it is very common to see people wear a traditional Asian type of baby carrier to carry their babies around with them. Some women (particularly the poorer women like recyclers, street sellers, or small shop keepers) carry their babies all day. In some ways, I think these kids are the lucky ones, because while they may lack some physical niceties, they get to be with their mom far more than most of the rich kids who are often sent to live with relatives, even in other towns, while their parents spend all their time working to provide for their certain lifestyle.

However, most people just use these types of carriers to go shopping or run other errands around town. Even though the roads and sidewalks here are much better than most of the smaller cities and villages, there are definitely still times when it is easier to carry little ones on your back instead of trying to maneuver the stroller. This becomes especially true if you want to ride bused or do any hiking off of paved roads.

 This types of carrier is most commonly known as mei tai in the west. This is a version of its Cantonese name miē dài (孭带). In Mandarin they call them bēi dài (背带). Here, they usually just have two really long straps at the top corners of a very large square of fabric.

We'd been thinking about purchasing some for a while, but they are only sold in small markets, and the price they told me was more than we wanted to pay. Also, a baby carrier isn't something you want to buy the absolute cheapest version of either. So recently, we found the fabric market (they like to group almost all of a type of seller into one section of town here), and I made two myself. I made ours with two long and two short straps because I think it is more secure and spreads out the weight more. I also made sure to stitch the strap reinforcements a lot, a lot, to make sure that they would hold up with our big, sturdy boys.

We went for a hike two weekends ago and the carriers worked great. We were able to take a really small bus to the edge of town and then hike up a path in the woods. Both of those things are next to impossible if you have to drag the stroller around. We're pretty happy with these carriers. Andrew was even so tired and comfortable on the way back that he fell asleep on the way back in the carrier.


  1. Hello! Thanks for visiting my blog :) I love the can-do spirit of your blog (great carrier!!) and how interesting it is that you are all learning the Mandarin language and culture! Now, *that's* homeschooling at its finest :)

    Blessings to you and yours,
    Keri Mae

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog too! We all do like learning and challenges around here.

  3. ADORE my mei tais. My older girls also like them.


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