Is a child harness truly necessary?

Posted by D'Marco Manuel on

Talking about child leashes is like talking about political parties
Parents are either strongly for or strongly against them.
I know this is a touchy subject and I will try to cover it the best that I can in a lighthearted manner. Any offense caused is entirely unintentional. I am simply trying to provide a guide to allow parents who choose to leash find one that suits their needs.

Many parents believe that a child leash…
child walking around on toddler leash
Looks similar to this:
dog on leash similar to child leash
And they are right….
Because babies are just like dogs…
  • Unpredictable… You don’t know what they are going to do next.
  • To you they are the most precious thing in the world
  • Poo and wee everywhere unless you train them
  • You can’t understand a word they say
  • They get excited by their own reflection.
Now I’m not going to debate whether child leashes are right or wrong…
Why? I do not fight for either side of in the mommy wars, I am neutral (like Switzerland).
Jennifer Phillips says it best:
Instead of judging parents who choose to leash (or choose anything for that matter), it’s important to remember that “we are all unique individuals, with unique children, in unique situations trying to do the best we can, and make the best decisions we can for our unique families.”
Like with every baby product, a child leash can be used correctly or incorrectly. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • How it is presented to the child – Is it used as a safety aid or is it portrayed as a way of saying “I don’t trust you, I control this relationship”?

  • When it is used – Is it used near busy roads or is it used around the home?

  • Why it is used – Is it in relation to a real danger or is the parent being overly anxious about threats that simply don’t exist?

Be honest when you ask yourself these questions. You don’t want to use a child leash for the wrong reasons.
With all that out of the way, it’s time to take a look at who would benefit from a child leash.
Many parents swear by child leashes and with good reason. They can be amazingly useful. A child leash is ideal for you if any of the following scenarios sound familiar:
  • Your toddler dashes away from you the second you put him down on the ground.
  • Your child is incredibly impulsive and always seems to make the wrong decision.
  • Your child suffers from autism or ADHD.
  • You are walking multiple young children and cannot keep your eye on all of them.
Yes; a child leash is not for every child but if you require one to assist your situation then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, even if you do deicide that a child leash is perfect for you, your child may decide he hates it and refuse to wear it.
Before we look at the different types of leashes I will leave you with one last piece of advice:
A toddler has not yet mastered balance. When they run and hit the end of the leash they can easily tumble to the ground. You will need to teach your child how to behave while inside the harness.
The different types of child leashes
There are three different types of child leashes. Two are great and one is actually dangerous to your child
Let’s take a closer look at them:
Safety Harness child leash
toddler strapped into safety harness crossing the road
A safety harness is the simplest of child leashes. The harness loop over the shoulders and clip around the chest of your child with the leash attached to the back of the harness.
The straps of the harness are adjustable so that you will be able to properly fit your child; whether he is a stick insect or more on the chubby side.
A standard safety harness is the cheapest of child leashes. In fact; you can pick a good one for less than $10. Fairly inexpensive for peace of mind.
Because of the lack of features a standard safety harness is quite small. You could easily hide one inside your diaper bag until it is needed.
Unfortunately, because of the simple design, it also looks the most like a pet leash.
If you are looking for a child harness that doesn’t maker it look like you are walking your dog then you will prefer:
Backpack Safety Harness Child leash
toddler wearing a backpack harness attached to a leash
A backpack harness works much the way as the standard harness. The only difference is that this harness resembles a backpack.
Attached to the front of the backpack straps are clips that lock your child into the harness. One safety leash is tethered to the back of the backpack while the other end is held in your hand.
Because it looks similar to a regular backpack, many parents find getting their child to wear their harness a much easier task. Many backpack harnesses feature kid-friendly designs (like a puppy, sheep or lion); which helps make these harnesses irresistible to young toddlers and babies.
But to be fair; if I could walk around in a lion backpack I totally would…
Oh, and one added bonus of backpack harnesses:
Ordinarily, if you ask your toddler to hold your stuff (phone, wallet, keys) it is guaranteed to end up all over the floor. With a backpack harness, you can actually get your toddler to carry goodies. Whether it is your house keys or your toddler's favorite toy.
Child wrist leash
child walking with a wrist leash for safety
In case the big no stamp in the picture above wasn’t a dead giveaway, a wrist leash is dangerous and I simply cannot recommend it as a safety device.
Because it is very likely that it will do your child more harm than good.
  1. With the safety harness, the child is free to swing his arms normally back and forth as he walks. A wrist leash can interfere with your toddler walking correctly.

  2. If you do suddenly need to yank your child back out of danger you risk dislocating your child's shoulder. A harness instead distributes the force across a larger surface area (the torso), which in turn helps prevent harm to your little one.

  3. The wrist strap can be incredibly irritating. While a safety harness sits on top of your child’s clothes; a wrist leash will sit on the exposed skin of your little one's wrist (especially if he is wearing a t-shirt). The leash rubbing against your child’s skin can be uncomfortable or worse, cause a full-blown rash

Given the choice between a wrist leash and a child harness, I would choose the harness every single time.
If you still really want a wrist leash for your child then I strongly recommend this alternative:
There is no denying that a child leash is an excellent safety device. But before I wrap up this article I want you to ask yourself a question.
What happens when you can no longer use a child leash?
You won’t always be able to rely on a leash to keep your child safe (can you imagine, a teenager in a leash?). A child leash should not be used as a substitute for teaching your child safe practices.
Skipping the leash will be much harder in the short run but; through the use of your words and actions, you may help your children develop responsible safety skills that will last a lifetime.
Simply throwing a leash on your child may keep him protected but you may also be depriving him of valuable life lessons.
Every parents situation is different and once again I am not saying that child leashes are right or wrong. I just like parents to think about their own personal situation rather than following a crowd.
Leave me any questions, wisdom, love or hate in the comments below/

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