I was looking at reviews for a BabyHawk Mei Tai and the BabyHawk Oh Snap. They both have good reviews, but I was looking at the pictures and they basically look like the same carrier. What's the difference?
Confused in NY
Dear Confused in NY,
Mei Tais are a different type of carrier. They are (usually and traditionally) unstructured carriers. They have a square or rectangle of fabric with a strap coming out of each corner. It will hold baby in basically the same position as soft structured carriers (SSC) like the BabyHawk Oh Snap. Mei tais are meant to be worn at waist level, SSCs are meant to be worn at hip level usually. You can also do high back carries in MTs, but not usually in SSCs.
MTs are often not padded or have minimal padding. They are comfy, and I love them, but if I am going to be wearing for hours I choose my KinderPack (an amazing SSC) over the MT. MTs are easier to wear while pregnant. SSCs have more padding and structure, making them more comfy for long periods. The BabyHawk Oh Snap is a great SSC. It is very large, and is often used just as a toddler carrier. It doesn't fit newborns or small babies well.
I have a BabyHawk MT, two CatBird MTs, and a Kozy MT. I like the CatBird and Kozy ones much better than the BabyHawk. The CatBird and Kozy MTs have a little more padding in the shoulders, the straps don't get twisted like in a BabyHawk MT, they are built of a sturdier and stronger fabric, the CatBird has a hideaway hood where the BabyHawk has a headrest, and both the CatBirds and Kozy are wider and taller than the BabyHawk - meaning they can be used longer. This is pretty much personal preference however. BabyHawk MTs are undeniably well-made, and a favorite of many people.
With MTs, you can fold down the extra fabric before tying it to customize the height for your baby, say, for instance, that baby wants to ride arms out. You can also use a shoestring to customize the width of a MT so baby always has the proper knee to knee coverage. (See Using a Mei Tai for a Small Baby for more info).
SSCs are great for older babies and toddlers. They don't offer great positioning for newborns, but it technically can be done. Sized SSCs will give you the best fit (like KinderPack, Tula, Kanga, Bamberoo, and Two Mamas Designs).Mei tais on the other hand can be used from birth, but you'd get better positioning in a wrap or ring sling for a tiny newborn. Mei tais are nice if you have different aged babies and different sized wearers too. They are nice if you want one carrier to use from birth through toddlerhood, and aren’t interested in wrapping. A bigger MT can be used from birth, so go with a larger sized MT. Kozy and CatBird Baby both make excellent larger bodied MTs.
Take a look at my review of the CatBird Mei Tai. Also, take a look at my list of the types of carriers and when to use which carrier.
Hope this helps!