Pow! Kaboom! This bright and cheery mei tai from Snugiwraps arrived the other day for testing out. It’s part of the Deluxe range, and is standard size (6 to 24 months). I tested it out with my smallish 3yr old, who loved the vibrant colours and the softness of the plush-lined hood.
I’ll start by stating that I am impartial. I am not linked to Snugiwraps in any way; I am not being paid for my review, just as I am not paid for any of my other sling reviews (which you can find here).
Steph has a great eye for colours. The fabric is very pretty, eyecatchingly bold, and teams up perfectly with the blue of the lined hood. It is a “SnugiHood” which I am guessing is related to the shape of the hood – it is structured into a dome shape and lined with soft minky, with two tie cords (made of cotton, which can be threaded through two flat loops on the shoulder straps. It only just fitted my 3yo’s head, so it will be perfect for smaller children. The tie cords are sunk about one cm into the hood, and the hood is sunk about 1.5cm into the body of the panel.
The waistband is made of black cotton drill, thick and strong, much more substantial than something like a Palm and Pond. It is padded with three cylinders of stuffing, and is sturdy, however, the rows of cylinders allow the waistband to mould nicely around the body, so it is is not stiff and does not dig in. The rest of the waist ties are sewn into the sides of the waistband, and made with the same strong cotton drill. They are easy to tie and don’t slip once knotted.
The panel is made of three layers. The decorative fabric on the front is fairly thin, I have other carriers from well known brands that have decorative panels like this. There is a layer of the same thick black cotton drill on the underside, which seems continuous with the waistband itself, and a thicker layer in between both. This feels sturdy but still soft, and is attached all the way around. There are no seat darts, which will help to keep a child’s body closer to the wearer. The panel was a little narrow for my 3yo (she is bigger than the stated age range) but was an appropriate height for her.
The shoulder straps are attached at an angle to the body panel and are double stitched with about 3cm depth sunk inside. The inside edges feel stiff and inflexible, as if they have been treated with something (I imagine something like heat sealing as you do with some cords in a candle flame?) The padded part of the shoulder straps is 14inches long and sewn into three flattish cylinders again, two narrow ones with the wider one in the centre. They remain flexible as they are not as densely stuffed as the waistband, which is well judged, as too much stuffing will make the strap stick out and be hard to manipulate. The rest of the shoulder straps are the same as the waist ties. They have some grip and don’t slip and slide around like some carrier straps can do.
I examined the stitching in detail. The SnugiWraps Mei Tai arrived at the same time as another brand of carrier – this time a wrap conversion made by a big brand (not a WAHM, as Steph is) and I thought it would be interesting to compare them, as Snugiwraps has had a torrid time recently with queries about safety and attention to detail. For the most part, the stitching is good, and straight. There are a few minor flaws, but they are minor, for example, some of the topstitching at the upper edge of the panel wavers a little, but it wavers away from the hem not towards it, so there isn’t any compromise on the panel layers being held together. The overstitching at the end of a row of sewing is neat – much neater than the big brand carrier, where the machine had obviously snarled up and snagged lots of thread to make it look messy. Still safe, but messy. There are no loose sewing threads that need tidying up on the SnugiWraps MT, whereas on the big brand carrier, there are more than five. At one edge of the underside black layer at one bottom corner, the SnugiWraps MT has a tiny pucker in the fabric under the stitching. I had to search for this, and it doesn’t compromise safety or comfort at all. Lastly, I examined the stuffing in the waistband. This has been inserted via an opening in the lower edge of the waistband and then oversewn. Several of the strands of the stuffing were not quite fully pushed in and the oversewing has caught these fibres in the stitching. Again, I only saw this by hunting for issues and actively pulling the edges of the carrier aside to inspect it. It does not affect the safety, function or appearance of the carrier at all.
So, I felt happy that this carrier, although it has not been through the official safety testing procedures, is as safe as most other WAHM brands. Other SnugiWrap carriers have been put through formal safety testing procedures and passed the relevant clauses (you can read more about the complexities of carrier testing on the SnugiWraps website).
I tried it on – and wow, it was comfortable! The waistband did not dig at all, but had enough sturdiness to feel supportive. The knot did not slip once tied. The panel was mouldable and tall enough for my small 3yo, so would be fine for the average 24month old, it was a little narrow for her to be knee to knee, but this is the beauty of mei tais and half buckles – the long straps can be positioned in the knee pits to extend the life of the carrier. The waistband can be folded for smaller babies, or the carrier could be used apron style to make a pouch. The shoulder straps are great. I really like the angle they have been placed at; there was no digging into my neck and they stayed well spread across my back for good weight distribution. The padding feels good – not too much that the strap is stiff and hard to locate when reaching behind to cross, but enough to feel very cushy on the shoulders. My little girl was very happy in this and demanded all sorts of bouncing and spinning games. I felt confident enough to give her a really good whirl. This was a very comfortable mei tai.
In summary, I liked this Mei Tai a lot. I took it to my local sling meet to some people who have tried SnugiWraps before, and they really liked how comfortable it was too. My advice to Steph is to carry on in this vein, making comfortable, well sewn carriers, gaining in experience and taking her time with the sewing. I wish her luck in 2014 and hope it will be a much happier year for her.