If you’ve found your way to this review, chances are, you’ve decided to get a Soul Slings Meh Dai. Which is a damn good choice if I may say so myself. Comfort, versatility and a carrier that can be used to carry your child on your front, on your back and on your side. A carrier that will last from around six – eight months, all the way through to toddler-hood. Maybe your little one has outgrown their stretchy, or maybe they’re not quite ready for their toddler carrier. So you’re set, Meh Dai it is. All that’s left is to choose one. How hard can it be?
And then you realise, not only are there many wonderful patterns and colours to choose from – but there’s a choice in the fabric weave too! And all of a sudden you’re stumped. Do you get a cotton ikat weave? Do you get a cotton jacquard wrap conversion? What is the difference? What do these words even mean?
Luckily for you, I’ve been busy wearing the hell out of both carriers so I can answer that question for you.
But first, can I take a moment to clarify the terminology I am using. You may be familiar with the term ‘Mei Tai’ to describe this carrier style and wondering why all of a sudden you see the term ‘Meh Dai’ everywhere instead. This is why.
We’ve recently acquired a Soul Slings wrap conversion Meh Dai Actually, we’ve acquired two, one to try and one to give away – but they are both so beautiful we are struggling to decide which one stays and which one goes! Help?
And until very recently we owned a cotton ikat Soul Sling Meh Dai, which has been one of our favourites. I miss it greatly, but it has gone to a mum with a greater need than us and that makes me feel happy.
When the wrap conversion arrived, I was really interested to see how different the two carriers felt. I noticed it straight away. I could feel a stark contrast to the cotton Meh Dai I was so used to. It felt heavier, it felt so much softer and thicker. I couldn’t wait to try it on.
It is important to note that the cotton ikat Meh Dai and the wrap conversion Meh Dai are in essence the same carrier. Yep. They are pretty much the same. They are both made from cotton, they are both recommended for a child between 7 – 18kgs. They both have the same design, and very similar measurements. So, whats different? The fabric weave for one. The way the cotton has been woven for each carrier differs and creates unique textiles. The way they feel to touch. The way they feel to wear. These things are not the same. So it is these that we are going to take a closer look at.
Cotton Ikat Meh Dai:
This Meh Dai has different fabric and patterns for both the panel, and the base and straps. The panel is handwoven ikat, and the base and straps are a sturdy, pure woven cotton. Ikat is a unique dyeing technique used to pattern textiles. Traditional weavers use a painstakingly slow resist dyeing process, in which bundles of threads are bound together with a tight water-proof wrapping to restrict spreading. Either the warp or weft is then dyed to create beautiful patterns. The bindings can be altered and may be dyed again with multiple colours to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished the bindings are removed and the threads are woven into fabric.
Jacquard Wrap Conversion Meh Dai:
This Meh Dai has the same fabric and pattern for the panel, base and straps – pure jacquard woven cotton. Full wrap conversion Soul Meh Dais are made from the new range of Soul jacquard wraps which is a thicker, softer fabric than a standard cotton weave. Woven in an ethical and environment-friendly mill from Southern India, the weave makes them sturdy yet surprisingly airy. Quality baby-safe dyes are used, then the jacquards are finished and converted in-house at the Soul factory based in Bangalore, India.
The cotton ikat Meh Dai can at first touch feel a bit stiff. It needs some wear and use before it starts to soften up and mould to baby. I find that if you give it wash before you wear it, it helps break it in faster. You don’t need to – you can wear it right away, but a bit like a wrap, it does help make it more supple. After a few wears however, the stiffness is gone and what you have is a soft, floppy fabric that hugs your baby beautifully. The panel has a different feel to the straps as they are different weaves. The panel is a smooth and thin – this, and the hood, is the ikat weave. The panel is then backed with the same cotton as used on the straps. It is a bit stiffer, the weave is grippier, which makes for a more secure carry over other Meh Dai carriers I have tried.
The wrap conversion however is soft from the moment you pull it out of the bag. Soft, plush and a much thicker fabric than the cotton. It’s like the royalty of fabrics. I haven’t washed it and I don’t think I am going to. It is noticeably heavier in your hand and it feels delicious. Like you could roll around in it. The panel and straps are all the exact same fabric. The waistband isn’t padded but the fabric on the waistband is triple thickness and waist straps have double thickness to add that extra support. The fabric on the panel is also doubled, so you get the same pattern front and back. The fabric on the hood and shoulder straps however is only a single layer, which means the hood is not as heavy, and you get a beautiful inverse pattern when the hood is hanging.
The cotton is a lighter and thinner fabric – and because of this I prefer to wear it in warm weather. The hood is light and breathable, you can almost see through it. The panel and straps are thin and you don’t feel like you’re wearing a heavy layer on top of your clothing. And as the fabric weave of the straps is coarse and grippy, it gives a wonderful tight fit with the passes spread well over babies bum. Compared to other Mei Dai carriers I had worn before Soul a softer fabric, but a bit more slippy to wear and as a result I had to keep tightening the straps. I never had to re-tighten with my cotton ikat Meh Dai – once it was on, it was on.
The wrap conversion feels noticeably different to the cotton. Thicker, more substantial. AJ prefers this fabric as it feels nicer on his shoulders than the cotton fabric does – and he is often topless when he is wearing Ziggy, where as I have clothes on (funnily enough) so I am taking his word for it. The hood is a thicker fabric – you can’t see the light shine through it as easily as you can the cotton, so it’s not the carrier I would grab to Kanga in, or for a walk in the summer heat if I had the ikat on hand also. But there’s something about it, it’s richness, it’s bounce. It’s a fabric type usually associated with lush woven wraps, not carriers like this, and it makes for a wonderful wearing experience.
Both the Meh Dais have padded shoulders which when carrying a bigger child is so important – I find anyway, as the padding offers greater comfort. They also have wide wrap straps which you can fan over your shoulder, although the wrap conversion is a bit longer and wider than the cotton ikat. Both Meh Dais come in stunning patters and colours. Both Mei Dais offer comfort and a ‘one size fits all’ versatility which, unlike some buckle carriers, works well in a household where mum and dad may be two very different body types.
So which one do you get? Which option is the best to choose. Well that’s easy.
Choose the one your eyes fall in love with. The one that makes you smile when you look at it. This is the one that will make you feel happy every time you carry your child in it.
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