Sew a simple DIY baby-doll carrier

There’s something sweet about a toddler with her baby doll (his, too—my son loves his doll and animals as much as his sisters).

When we were preparing for baby number two, I made a baby carrier for my two-year-old daughter. I had loved wearing her in my handmade mei-tai, a gift from my sister-in-law, and wanted a simpler version for her to use with her favorite Molly the Dolly.

Now that my third baby is almost two, she’s at that perfect age for babydoll-wearing. She loves hanging out in the Ergo with me, and was thus sweetly excited to carry around her own baby in a mini mei-tai .

This is a simple project—I did it in two naptimes.

How to sew a mini mei-tai baby doll carrier

This mini mei-tai is the perfect size for a two- or three-year-old, but my almost-six-year-old still likes to squeeze into hers.  All you need is basic sewing tools and scrap fabric that’s at least 31 1/2″ long and about 18″ wide.

mini mei-tai-1

First, cut out your fabric. I used a rotary cutter and rulers, but scissors and a measuring tape will work fine. Note the direction of the print if your fabric is directional.

Cut: 

  • 2 long straps, 3 x 31 inches
  • 2 short straps, 3 x 15 inches
  • 2 main pieces, 7 3/4 (top/bottom) x 9 1/4 (sides) inches, or one bigger piece 7 3/4 x 18 1/2 (folded in half) inches

mini mei-tai-2

To make the straps, fold each one in half lengthwise (hot-dog style) and press it with an iron. Pin along the long side and one short side, then sew a quarter-inch seam down the one long side and one short side.

mini mei-tai-4

mini mei-tai-5

Turn the straps inside out. (I use a fat, dull knitting needle that I stole from my mom’s stash. Stick in the knob end rather than the pointy end, if you use one.)

mini mei-tai-6

Press your straps with an iron, then top-stitch around three sides. A contrasting thread works well here.

mini mei-tai-7

Four finished straps.

Now comes the part that seems tricky, but it’s really not. Refer to the photos for clarity.

pinning mini mei-tai

1. Lay the long straps at the top of the main piece—stick the unsewn ends out one of the shorter sides about a quarter-inch. Gently fold them back up that same side.

2. Do likewise with the short straps—their unsewn ends will stick out a bit at the bottom of each of the main piece’s longer sides. Line them up just above the fold, or if you used two pieces for the main part, lay them about 5/8″ above the bottom. Position all the straps so the’re out the top edge of the main piece.

3. Carefully fold over the main piece, or lay the second main piece over all the straps (with right sides together).

4. Pin along the strap’s ends and in-between, then sew along both long sides and along the top—just far enough to stitch down the top long straps, but leaving an opening where all the straps are sticking out.

mini mei-tai-13

Now you should be able to turn the whole thing right-side out, where you’ll see two long straps sticking out the top, two short straps sticking out the sides. Press with an iron, turning under and pinning shut your opening.

mini mei-tai finished

Top stitch around the top, and put an X through the middle for extra stability.

mini mei-tai-14

To wear, tie the short straps around the waist. Position a baby doll in front, then the long straps cross in back and tie in front. You can also wear a mei-tai on the back—simply reverse it, with or without crossing the straps.

Screenshot 2017-06-21 12.30.17

baby mei-tei carrier

Voilà! Enjoy your little one as he or she wears their beloved baby doll.

The mini mei-tai makes a great big sister or brother gift when there’s a new baby coming, or for toddlers who love being worn by Mom or Dad and would like to wear their babies, too.

You can say no to constant busyness.

To lead your family with peace, you need to know your NOs and YESes. But what are they?

Like Your Life can help you figure them out.

42 Comments

  1. Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm

    Oooh! I might have to get my sister to help me sew one of these for Eleanor. She always “wears” her babies by shoving them down the front of her shirt, so that just their face pokes out through the neck-hole. 🙂

    This might be the perfect “big sister” present for when the baby arrives in October…

    • Meagan

      I thought of her, too! 🙂 I’ll help.

    • Nicole

      Mine do that with their shirts, too. I’m hoping having this out will curb that a bit. 😉

  2. Angela

    Oh my word, that’s cute. We have a new baby in our house and I’m sure my two year old daughter would LOVE to be just like Mommy and wear her babies. Pinned!

  3. Rivki Silver

    This is the sweetest thing! My two oldest are boys (not that they can’t enjoy baby doll-wearing, but they are much more into trucks and trains and blocks right now), but I will remember this when my baby girl gets bigger. I love it! The smile on your daughter’s face is just radiant. Thanks for the post!

  4. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    This is precious! Love it and am tempted to go make it right now :).

  5. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake

    I love this! I have a bad track record for finishing sewing projects, but I think I could manage this. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

    • Nicole

      I do too, Claire. It’s a very doable project to finish! 🙂

  6. Crista

    That is adorable. I am not the best on the sewing machine, but this would be perfect for some practice.

    • Nicole

      It’s a perfect simple project for practice, and if you mess up a bit, I’m sure your toddler won’t notice. 😉

  7. lana wilkens

    I am due in Dec and this will be perfect for my little girl who will be almost two by that time! thanks 🙂

  8. Christina

    what perfect timing! my 2 yr old was just talking about carrying her stuffed animals on her back like she has ridden on mine, and I said, hm, well, I’m sure I can figure out something…this looks just right, thanks!

  9. Nicci

    My younger girls are always making up some concoction to wear their babies, they would love this. This would be a great sewing project to do with my middle girls who are just learning to sew. Thanks!

    • Nicole

      Oh, that’d be a perfect project to do with them! And how sweet for them to help make something for the younger girls?!

  10. Steph@livingbrilliant

    Oh. My. Goodness. That is so sweet that I might have to tax my very limited sewing skills and try to make one of those for my 5-year-old dolly mama. Sweet, like a good cookie. Thanks for the dear idea!

    • Nicole

      Limited sewing skills should be plenty for this project. Go for it! 🙂 She’ll love it.

  11. Joyce

    Super cute!…both the mini mei tai and the little one. 🙂

    • Nicole

      Thanks, Joyce! 🙂

  12. Bethany V.

    Just made this for my daughter’s birthday. She absolutely loved it and is using it daily. I used an old pair of my husband’s jeans for the fabric.

    • Nicole

      That’s awesome, Bethany. I love your fabric choice!

  13. Jessica

    Thanks for this pattern! I just managed to eke out enough time with my sewing machine (I had to dismantle my sewing set-up to make room for baby #2) and make one of these. The front fabric is a patchwork I assembled from decorator swatches and it’s nice and colorful. I did add a slight round arc to the top, so it looks more like my baby carrier. My daughter and I took our babies on a walk this morning, and it worked great!

  14. dina

    Nicole, I am in the middle of making this mei-tai, which is quite beautiful, by the way.

    I have a technical question: I can’t quite understand how to sew the straps. I can’t read the picture very well.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Nicole

      Hi Dina,
      Sorry if it was confusing!
      The photo after the “You need to cut” instructions shows the straps already folded, inside out, and pinned together.
      To get them like that, you’ll want to fold them so they go from 3″ x 31″ and 3″ x 15″, to 1.5″ x 31 and 1.5″ x 15″– does that make sense? Then you just sew them on the long side that’s pinned and one of the short ends (leave one end open) and turn them inside out. Does that make more sense? Let me know if I can help more. 🙂

      • dina

        Thank you so much. I finished the first one, now making another one. Thanks a lot for sharing this great tutorial. My husband and I used to carry our twin daughters in mei tais when they were new borns, and now they can have their own for their baby dolls!

        • Nicole

          I’m so glad!! xo

  15. Hilde

    I love this for christmas presents this year!!! about how many yards did it take for one so I can order fabrics!!!

  16. Janice

    My granddaughter came out of her room with one of her mothers bras on and her favorite baby tucked safely inside sideways. “Look Grandma, you can use these to carry babies too!” I think I better get busy sewing!!

  17. Jessica

    LOVE this easy design. I’m a hack of a seamstress who won’t do anything too complicated! I made one change, that was to put loops on the bottom and make the long straps longer. I cross the straps, run them through the loops and then tie them in the middle. My daughter (4) and her bitty twin Blossom love it. I increased the main panels by 2″ in each direction to be sure it would work on my slightly older girl.

  18. Rhyannon Y

    Just made this last night for my almost three-year-old. She’s getting a Bitty Baby for her birthday, and I figured she sees me carry baby sister around in a carrier enough, she should probably have her own. Thanks for the easy tutorial!

    • Nicole

      I’m so glad!

  19. Sabreana

    I am so excited to make this for my daughter! She will be 17 months when her baby brother or sister is due so it will be going in her Big Sister bag! I bought minnie mouse fabric for the main and red with white polkadots for the straps. I am thinking i will have enough to make one reverse also! Thank you so much for this easy tutorial!

  20. Emily

    Just whipped one up for my 4 yr old {I have a mei tai to carry our 4 month old in} I added 2″ of a solid color to the top to adjust for her long torso and to fit her cabbage patch doll! Thanks for the easy tutorial!

  21. Katie

    Hi there–I just made this over the last two naptimes (as you rightly described) and I am NOT an accomplished seamstress. I have mostly made straight line stitched child blanks and quilts, some crooked curtains, that kind of thing. I looked at many different carrier tutorials, and this one looked the easiest. It really was! It gave me a great opportunity to practice making something unique and some new skills (like turning a tube). I am thrilled with the final product. I am going to make one for a four year old neighbor for her birthday. I am thinking I may need to make the straps (at least the shorter ones) a bit longer. Any reason I couldn’t/shouldn’t? Thanks! Katie

    • Nicole

      I’m so glad it worked out good for you, Katie! 🙂 I would definitely had an inch or 2 to the straps for a four year old. My 3.5-yr old can still wear hers but the straps are getting a bit short!

      • Katie

        Hi again–I did add two inches to long straps, an inch to the main piece, and I think one inch to the short straps. I used the 4 yr old as a “model” to “try it on” for my daughter (so I could in reality size it up on her) and I’m so excited to give it to her for her birthday party next weekend. This really was a very user-friendly tutorial. Thanks very much.

  22. Carol Englemsn

    I am confused after laying straps on 1 piece of fabric, then placing 2nd piece on, pinning & sewing the two long sides & across top just over the 2 long straps…what about sewing the bottom? Do you sew all the way across bottom? So you actually have a pouch? Or is it left unsewn & doll legs stick out bottom? So it couldn’t actually be used for small toys?

  23. Gwen

    Thank you for great tutorial. I made this for my little girl today and she loves it. The tutorial was great, clear, concise and easy to follow. I added Velcro to the straps to make it easier for my daughter to put on herself and a pocket on front for babies toys. Thanks again

  24. Tristyn

    How do you use a knitting needle to turn the straps right side out?! This part is turning out to be super frustrating, especially since I can’t use the safety pin trick as one short end is sewn.

  25. Emily

    I made this today and it turned out great. Its for a 2 year old who is obsessed with mimicking everything I do with the baby. I also made her a mini nursing cover to match.

  26. Rachel

    I just made this on a 100 year old singer sewing machine, with a treadle pedal. Took me 4 hours, with a few tension issues to sort out and some unpicking of that annoying bunchy bobbin stuff. I didn’t sew around the edges of the straps after turning them inside out because that kept happening and i hope i don’t live to regret that, but i’m pleased i finished it and it looks good. I also made it a bit bigger for a 4 year old. Thanks for sharing this pattern, even a total beginner like me can build confidence with.

  27. brynna acuna

    I am making these for my 9 and 7 sbd 2 year old anything to keep them young!!!

  28. Niki

    For the pictures it would be easier to see if you used contrasting patterns/colours. I just think it would be easier to follow the last pictures. I’m still gonna give this a try.

Get our weekly email called
5 Quick Things,

where we share new stuff from the blog and podcast—that way you’ll never miss a thing. Tsh also shares other goodness from around the web... It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.

(You’ll also get her quick list of her 10 favorite essays and podcast episodes from around here, helping you wade through a decade of content.)