Saturday, April 14, 2012

Safety Harness, or Toddler Leash?

Oh, I know it is a subject of hot debate - Is it humane to put a child on a "leash"?  Truthfully, I have been on both sides of this debate and I'm going to step out and tell you where I am with it at this very moment.

That is my son, tonight, at the mall.  Yep, he is wearing the safety harness backpack with a cute puppy dog on it.

If you guessed that I am opposed to these silly devices, you were wrong.  

Here's the thing.  Crackers is a strong willed, independent young man.  He loves to walk when we go out, but does not always pay attention to where we are.  We are constantly encouraging him to keep up or slow down, depending on how excited he is.  This is frustrating to him, and to his mama.

Monkey was (and still is) a hand holder.  He is easy to keep close, because he holds on.  Crackers wants nothing to do with holding hands.  He cries and screams, "I WANT TO WALK" if he is forced to hold a hand.  He feels like his freedom is removed when he has to be held.

With the "puppy backpack" (as we call it), he is able to walk independently.  For the most part he appreciates this.

So, for the freedom and safety of my child, I have changed my thoughts about the safety harness.  We will be using it when we go on walks in crowded places such as the mall or the zoo.  We will not be using it when we are walking in the neighborhood or the forest trails.

What are your thoughts on safety harnesses?  There is room for disagreement, but please be respect others, even in your disagreement.


  1. Great post! I hated the thought of those things. Absolutely hated them. I was even one of those nasty parents who would make disapproving faces at the parents of little ones who were attached to the "leashes".

    Then, Little Guy learned to walk and decided he didn't like to ride in the stroller. He was his own man and didn't need to hold hands, wither. Holding hands seemed to end up with me either dragging or carrying a kicking & screaming kid down the street. Let me tell you, the disapproving looks from other parents are MUCH worse in those situations than in the "leash" one! Yeah, I broke down and got one of those backpacks.

    Soon after I got the backpack/harness, I won a cool little item in a giveaway. It was basically a leash, but with handles on both ends - one for me & one for my son. We tried it and it took quite a few months of me constantly having to remind him to hold up his end. When he'd decide he didn't want to hold onto the handle, he had 2 choices: hold my hand or go home. As I said, it took months - but he's finally using it correctly every time!

    I no longer look disapprovingly at parents whose kids are on "leashes". Nor do I shake my head at the ones dragging their screaming children down the street! You never really know until you've been in the situation yourself. A safe kid is ALWAYS better. :)

  2. I made a hand holder like that with ribbon for Monkey, I loop it around the stroller handlebar when we're walking and he'll hold onto it. Crackers won't hold it yet. I saw that you had knit one, what a cool way to do it!

  3. I heard you say, with my own ears, that you had Crackers on a leash yesterday. ;-) We don't have a leash. Never had, never will. BUT my kids aren't as close together as yours, either, so I think it's a little easier. If my 4 year old or 6 year take off running, they know they're going to be in trouble. If the 2 year old takes off, I'll be the mom carrying the screaming toddler for a while...but THAT boy is so attached to his mama, he typically wants to hold my hand anyway...or ride on my back in the Boba.

  4. Our leash was a life saver!!! My son is also strong willed and does not want to hold hands. Not only does it keep him close to me it has also saved him from face planting into concrete on several occasions. I see a lot of parents that don't bother to keep their kids close, I would rather be looked at as mean for putting him in a harness (that he loves by the way) than for letting him run wild and get hurt!

  5. There is nothing more terrifying than losing track of your child in a crowded public place. All of the missing child/abduction stories you've ever heard run through your mind...along with the possible outcomes. We had several of these events as my children were growing up. You better believe I would have used a puppy backpack if one had been made available. Good for you Jennifer! Remember the time we lost Elise at the beach? Too old for the puppy...we needed GPS tracking for that one!

  6. LOL, Karen - I DO remember that. I don't think she would have gone for a leash, even if it was in the form of GPS.