Trends in Babywearing: Asian Baby Carriers

Freehand Mei Tai baby carrier

Pods and Onbus. Have you heard of them but wondered what kind of baby carriers these are? Podaegi and Onbuhimo are traditional Asian baby carriers.

There are more Asian baby carriers becoming popular in North America along with traditional styles of babywearing from Asia. These carriers share a basic structure of rectangle of fabric with straps. Here are the details.

Podaegi from Korea

Podaegi Korean baby carrier

A Korean podaegi baby carrier is wide enough to fit all of the way around the mother with overlap. There is one strap across the top with the ties coming out both sides.

  • The ties go under the mother’s arms,
  • cross in front above the breasts,
  • back around under the baby’s bottom as the baby straddles the mother’s back,
  • then the ties are tied under the breasts in the front.

Onbuhimo from Japan

Onbuhimo Japanese baby carrier

A Japanese onbuhimo baby carrier has a smaller rectangle of fabric with padded ties angled out of the top corners and loops or rings on the bottom corners.

  • The ties go up over the mother’s shoulders,
  • down through the loops (which are under the baby’s legs),
  • each tie goes up over the mother’s breasts and through the opposite shoulder strap,
  • then they are tied in the middle over the upper chest.

Mei Tai from China

Mei Tai Chinese baby carrier

A Chinese mei tai baby carrier is currently the most popular Asian carrier in the North American market. Some widely available baby carriers like the Freehand Mei Tai are soft and unstructured more like traditional carriers. The BabyHawk Mei Tai has more padding, and the Pikkolo carrier has shaped structure and buckles.

The mei tai carrier has a strap coming from each corner of the square of fabric.

  • The bottom straps are tied around the mother’s waist with the baby’s legs hanging over the ties,
  • top straps go over the mother’s shoulders either crossing in front or just over the shoulders,
  • straps go back under the baby’s bottom or across the baby’s back,
  • then straps are tied in front around the mother’s waist.

Babywearing Resources

The Babywearer – A forum and review community for babywearing with a lot of user photos including galleries for Onbuhimo, Podaegi, and Mei Tai carriers.

Babywearing International – A charity promoting babywearing. They provide solid babywearing safety information and they have a few chapters where parents can get face-to-face help.

Baby Carrier Industry Alliance – A trade association for retailers and manufacturers of baby carriers. Just opened last month and already doing great work to ensure that babywearing remains safe and legal in North America long into the future.

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