At Monkey Mei Tai, we realise that we are creating something that must be not only beautiful, but absolutely safe. After all, you are entrusting us with the safety of your precious child, and that is something that we take very, very seriously indeed.
As the vast majority of our carriers are bespoke and made to order, it is impossible to have every fabric and colour combination tested to the British and European Safety Standard for soft baby carriers (BS EN13209-2:2005). Although this standard is not a legal requirement in the UK, we are fully aware of the safety requirements and take them into very serious consideration when constructing each and every Monkey Mei Tai carrier. We have not, however, had our carriers officially tested to this standard, for the two main reasons outlined below:
- The first issue is how appropriate the testing is. The safety standard was drawn up with the mass-produced ‘high street carrier’ style in mind – a carrier with an area for the baby to sit, and an ‘attachment area’ to secure it to the parent. The standard’s tests reflect this, and the wording used makes it very clear it is well-designed to test this form of carrier. It makes no mention, however, of the unique features of our style of carrier – the Asian-inspired bei dai / meh dai (a.k.a. mei tai). It tests, among other things, how securely the two ‘parts’ (the baby-carrying area and the ‘attachment’ harness) are joined together; as well as testing other areas like ensuring the leg openings are not too large, stuffing not easily accessible, detachable parts not too small, that the buckles do not slip too much etc. It also tests fabrics for toxicity and flammability. As you can no doubt see, our carriers are a single panel, not separate parts; have no ‘leg openings’; and the straps come from within the carrier itself. This makes the tests much less appropriate to our particular style of baby carrier. It was put in place to ensure a minimum level of safety in mass-produced carriers. Each one of our carriers is constructed by the same person, Helen. Multiple quality control checks are performed and photos taken in order toensure that each and every carrier leaving our doors is of the same top quality.
- The second issue is that of customisation. If we were to send a carrier off for testing, only that exact combination of fabrics and features would be deemed to be BSEN 13209-2:2005 compliant. As the overwhelming majority of our carriers are customised, you can see the problem we face: even if we were to have the safety testing performed, it would only apply to the particular fabrics we chose to use. Bearing in mind that you can customise the straps, hood, outer panel and inner panel – that is an almost infinite combination of fabrics we would have to have tested. Our wrap conversions provide a similar dilemma, as we cannot possibly anticipate which wraps we would be asked to convert (and hence have them pre-tested), and a lot are limited edition and hard to obtain. The fabrics we use for our standard carriers are readily available for crafting, quilting, and tailoring purposes; as well as the wraps being designed to carry babies. We do not use industrial fabrics, fabrics with flame-retardant coating or other potentially hazardous chemicals.
Just because we have not had our carriers officially tested, that’s not to say our carriers are untested! We may not have sent them to a laboratory, but we have certainly put them through their paces: we obviously used them ourselves for some time before going into business, multiple tester mums have tried them out and given feedback, and then there’s our own in-house stress-testing. Please see below for more information on our construction methods, and to see photos of us putting one of our mei tais through some serious weight-lifting challenges. We also have extensive product liability insurance, enabling us to accept orders from across the EU. We hope you are reassured that, although we do not hold an official safety certificate, your child’s safety is our top priority, and we do everything we can to ensure that they are carried in an absolutely safe carrier.
Here are a few reasons why you can rest assured when using your MMT. For more information on what goes into making our carriers, please see our ‘Behind the Scenes‘ page.
Our standard carriers include an internal, heavy-duty layer, which gives you complete freedom in your choice of outer fabrics, as all our standard carriers are structurally the same. As wrap fabric is far better suited to the task of carrying babies than standard cotton, our wrap conversions are generally a two-layer carrier, although we do reserve the right to add an internal layer (or more) for added security if we deem it necessary.
All load bearing joins (strap anchor points, and buckle waistband seams) are triple-stitched and bar-tacked with top quality extra strong thread. We use multiple, separate lines of stitching, which provides passive redundancy and a far greater level of reassurance than some other carriers. Our buckle waists are secured to the body panel using the same stitching techniques – we do not just sink the panel in and topstitch, we use the same extra-strong thread and internal stitching techniques as with all other straps. This takes a little longer, but it’s a step we will not skip.
All webbing is properly and diligently heat-sealed before being sunk into the carrier by at least 2″; all straps are sunk into the carrier by the same amount. We overlock all fabrics to prevent the fraying of raw edges (sometimes twice!). Overlocking / coverstitching is done after securing the straps, which adds yet another layer of stitching to hold the carrier together.
You will not see any ‘X boxes’ on our carriers because the vast majority of the structural stitching is internal; this keeps the external look of the carrier unblemished by structural stitching, whilst retaining a very secure attachment. Our straps are attached using:
- One row of single stitching (in high quality thread)
- Two rows of triple stitching (in extra strong thread)
- One row of bar tacking (2 parallel rows of straight stitch and one covering row of zigzag stitch, all in extra strong thread)
- Two external rows of single stitching (in high quality thread).
While the topstitching may appear purely decorative, the fact that it is created using quality thread serves the added purpose of providing an extra two rows of sturdy stitching to secure your carrier.
Before launch in 2012, Monkey Mei Tai decided to run our own in-house safety tests to discover just how safe and strong our carriers really are. The images below show a standard, baby-sized standard carrier, designed to support babies up to around 15kg (33lb), which is the standard maximum weight used during BS EN13209-2:2005 testing . Our original intention was to test a carrier “to failure”, but we eventually had to admit defeat! The pictures speak for themselves: a game of “shed contents Buckaroo”, a gruelling 15 minute test-carry of a 75kg adult, and finally – a 110kg suspended load!!
Although we are smiling and obviously enjoying ourselves in these photos – they also illustrate an important point. Even when we were grossly misusing the carrier – pulling the straps in directions they would never normally sit, adding more weight that they would ever expect to encounter, yanking and tug-testing in ways that in no way reflect actual usage – they stood up to the task. There wasn’t as much as a popped stitch to show for our efforts.
*Please note – we obviously do not recommend you try to replicate any of these pictures at home. While the carrier in the photo easily managed the tasks we set it, it was never used again – any stress or strain placed on your carrier that deviates from what it would be subjected to during normal use will reduce the useful lifespan of your carrier. The photos are for demonstration purposes only.*
Checking your Carrier
You should always check your carrier before each use for signs of wear, loose threads and fraying. If you are in any doubt whatsoever as to the safety of your carrier, discontinue use and contact us immediately. We are more than happy to answer any queries over safety, as it is our top priority when creating your carrier. It is important not to perform ‘tug tests’ at home by yanking hard on the straps; pulling the straps at an angle from the body of the carrier; or pulling / tugging / twisting on seams or straps. Use forces appropriate to the everyday use of your carrier, and pull straps only in the direction they would normally be used. Failing to do this can damage and / or reduce the life of your carrier. For more information on how to correctly test your carrier at home, please see the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance’s website for an excellent article on “tug testing”, part of which is quoted below:
“This method of “testing” does not replicate the way a carrier is meant to be used, where the child’s weight is evenly distributed across the seat of the carrier and along the shoulder straps. The industry experts consulted are in agreement that one of the pivotal problems with “tug testing” or pulling on the straps of a carrier is that there is no way to measure the force of a pull: “The potential variation of the maximum applied force between different ‘testers’ could vary as much as a factor of 3.” That is to say, an adult sustained pull can range from 30-90 pounds, and an instantaneous jerk can measure even higher. When this stress is applied directly to a few stitches, it will weaken them, if not cause them to give way. Testing in this manner is destructive.”
Please also remember that your carrier will not last forever. This is not a flaw in our design, or a construction fault: like any well-used fabric, the fibres will eventually wear and become unusable. The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance has another excellent article on the longevity of ‘legacy’ carriers which we highly recommend you read. A small part is quoted below:
You know your favorite [sic] pair of blue jeans? The ones that you wore until you they were super soft. And then you wore them some more until the knees got thin and the cuffs were frayed. […] A well loved and worn in baby carrier is the best feeling- but what happens when broken in becomes worn out? When your favourite pair of blue jeans wear out, all you risk is momentary immodesty, but a baby carrier that reaches its limit can drop a baby. Just like with jeans, the fabric around the seams will wear out first, but eventually, every part of the carrier will grow thinner and lose its integrity.
We always recommend that you check your carrier thoroughly before each use for signs of wear.