Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

Leashing Up Your Children; The Argument FOR Child Harnesses

When my sisters and I were growing up and causing our mum to pull out her hair, we used to have a white leather child's harness that was put on us. I think we just had the one among the three girls and I don't remember too much of it other than seeing an old picture or two. I have some really vague memories of my youngest sister toddling around all harnessed up. Safe and sound. Now I am a parent I am totally for using a child safety harness to keep children safe.

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I will be that mum using a 'leash' on my child as he insists on walking through the city and not sitting in his stroller. I care too much about his safety to think that I can always hold on to his little toddler hand to keep him safe. It has been great using a stroller for the past year and carrying him in a sling or just holding him while we are out and about the city. However, he is growing up and I have to be smart about things.

The argument I have heard against 'leashing' up your children is, good parents should be available for their child's safety 24/7 and not rely on a leash to keep them safe. Not really that realistic in my opinion and experience. I don't think that every parent of a toddler needs to use a harness system. I do think that parents of high energy children, who will dart off to go and explore, would be very smart to use a harness system. Especially so when you are off travelling or in large busy public spaces.

I use a leash on my dog every single time I take her for a walk. Yes, I am comparing harnessing my child to leashing my dog but probably not the way you think I am. If I am to take good care of my dog I put a leash on her to ensure that she does not dart into the street and get run over by a passing car or run off while I am not looking. I care about my dog and I care about the safety of my almost fully mobile one year old. So, for me, the argument that your child is not an animal and thus should not use a leash is not really a great argument in my books.

I have had a dear friend say to me, "my child is not an animal. I would never put a leash on him". I hope that either my friend has four arms (she doesn't!) or a boy who never will dart off to try and explore things on his own. Maybe this parent won't ever be in a situation that requires the harness but I am pretty sure that Ben will want to jet off on his own and not hold my hand.

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When my older sister took her 1.5 year old boy to Disneyland she bought one of those fuzzy back pack child harnesses and he was able to explore his surroundings with a safety line. This is what I believe a leash to be; an extension of your hands, a way for your toddler to feel confident and move around on their own while still connected to someone. Same with my girlfriend who has a very active 2.5 year old who once in awhile likes to get up to no good. He is just curious and busy but this can easily lead to scary situations in a busy public setting. My friend also travelled to Disneyland and instead of having her son run off (cause he just might!) she used a fuzzy dog leash and kept him safe.

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A mum on a website asks this question, " My toddler thinks it's fun to run away from me on the street or in crowded places. I don't want to strap him to his buggy, but I'm afraid I'll lose him or he'll get hurt if I don't. How can I teach him to stay close?" Click HERE to read the safety response.

Some websites to check out: Small Planet Kids and The Baby Boutique

Have something to say on this topic? Leave a comment and I will respond back to you! You do not have to agree with my opinion to leave a comment!


Sister Sarah said...

It's funny because I never used the leash with my firstborn because she was content to sit in her stroller or hold Mommy's hand. What a different child my second is though...I love his leash and he loves it too! Especially because it's a plush cuddly dog that he snuggles when he's not wearing it. Strangers have come up to me to congratulate me for using it or ask me where I bought it (Walmart by the way, under 15 bucks!). Only a few people have given me an odd look or a raised eyebrow. I'll put up with those looks to protect my precious and very energetic child thank you very much!
Good post Andrea!

October 14, 2009 at 3:53 PM  
Marlene in the Valley said...

I think your point is perfect. A leash is great to keep some kids safe. It isn't for everyone. I think people who get all in a hussy about this subject have NEVER been the parent to a busy energetic child. These children are different and need to be kept safe. if you live in the burbs and your only venture is to the backyard or possibly the grocery store..than you won't understand. Plain and simple. Been there done that. I totally agree with this post. Good for you for speaking up!

October 14, 2009 at 4:12 PM  
Lori-Anne Grebbens said...

Hi there,

I don't think that the leash should be used to let your children wander without having to parent them. If you are using it because your child will dart off that is good or if they won't hold your hand. If you use it because you don't want to have to pay attention all the time that is not good.


October 14, 2009 at 4:18 PM  
Momto2 said...

Way to go Mama in the City. Another topic that is a bit 'hot'. You know just how to say things without being ridiculously over the top. Just like your circumcision post. Well done! Good read.

October 14, 2009 at 4:19 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks for supplying the pictures! Yes, temperament is huge in so many parts of raising children and this is one of them.

October 14, 2009 at 4:27 PM  
Mama in the City said...

I do agree with your point. It depends on your parenting experience and those shape your point of views and opinions too. Thanks for commenting!

October 14, 2009 at 4:28 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks for your 2 cents Lori!

October 14, 2009 at 4:29 PM  
Guest said...

I'm all for em , we got one when we went to west ed mall for Jakob , he was 1.5 and we just had Izzy , so i think it would have been foolish NOT to have one !


October 14, 2009 at 4:33 PM  
Jackie O. said...

I totally agree with Denise. Sometimes it is more practical than anything. People need to get over the whole, 'its too much like a dog on a leash!'. UM HELLO! You treat your dog better than your child? This is what I hear when people use that argument. Get a NEW argument for this point if that is where you are stuck.

October 14, 2009 at 5:14 PM  
Support Each Other said...

Yeah, that is true Jackie but I don't think you need to be too harsh about people who oppose the leash. I am guessing that people who don't use a leash obviously don't have the same troubles as other people? Maybe their kid just sits and is fine being quiet or something? Just like parents who choose to cry it out vs not. People have different children and can't be expected to understand someone else childs temperment if they have never been a parent to that child.


October 14, 2009 at 5:21 PM  
Karla said...

I unfortunately didn't have one Andrea when "we" should have had it most! Got off the plane in Hawaii when Alex was "2"....There were 4 adults that should of been watching him! We "all" assumed the other had Alex! I "MOM" in tow with new 5 month old Mackenzie realized nobody had Alex! Panic set in and I screamed -well we all screamed he was down bye the Baggage claim near the busy road! It was an Open airport- I wish I had the Safety Leash and did not listen to the rest of the family! You as a Mom must do what you feel is right-dont ever worry about what others say or think! Aaaah the famous Smile and Nod always works!

October 14, 2009 at 5:55 PM  
Jill said...

I'm all for leashes. I could have used one with Miriam, but never found one in time. Thankfully, although she would run off on me, she would realize she was more than six feet away from me and panic, and come running back.

October 14, 2009 at 6:12 PM  
Mum Shirley said...

The reason we had a lead (not a leash) was because Grandma in England bought one for Sarah. All 3 of you used it at times-mainly when we were in large groups of people. Also think of the poor child who has to have his/her hand stretched up in the air to hold onto an adult's hand. At least the child on a lead has the feeling of freedom.

October 14, 2009 at 6:58 PM  
Kristen said...

Hey Andrea - well written (again) - I love the harness for Jeremy, we bought it for when we were travelling in New York City and I couldn't imagine having done it without it. We only used a harness for Elijah once (when I travelled to England with both boys alone - Jonathan had already been there for 2 weeks for work) and Jeremy was an infant, I couldn't see manouvering through with an infant, baggage and a 3 year old by myself safely! (The one we used then was one our doctor gave us - I like the teddy bear backpack we have now better). I wrote about it in a write up on travelling with your kids here:

October 14, 2009 at 7:24 PM  
Lise in Yaletown said...

I totally agree with leashing. I have a 15 month old, who LOVES to head directly for the bike lane on the Seawall. The bikes travel along at quite the clip. Also since quite a number of people in Y-town have a problem leashing their dogs, at least I can keep my little girl close.

October 14, 2009 at 8:49 PM  
Nat said...

My opinion before having kids: I can't believe a parent would harness their own child! Can't they hold their hand?
My opinion after having kids: Although never needing one for Nyla who was pretty good at staying close, I am all for whatever keeps your kids close and safe! My friend who has VERY busy twins relies on it and says she can't go into a store without them being harnessed.
As with many things parenthood has changed my opinion about a lot!

Great topic!

October 14, 2009 at 10:14 PM  
Krista said...

I have a very distinct memory at around 8 years old of going to Stanley Park with my aunt who had 4 kids, including 3-year old twins (I know, what was she thinking inviting me along??) In any case, she had one twin strapped to each arm with a leash. I don't know how she kept track of the rest of us but she would have been less a few kids by the end of the day without those leashes!

October 14, 2009 at 10:37 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Hi Lise! You are right about the bike lane. I have almost been run over several times and I can already see Ben dashing through it on his own.

October 15, 2009 at 5:13 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks Nat! The things you think about when it is 'your turn'. I am still waiting for someone to strongly oppose this topic. Where is the controversy?! hehe. I would just like to hear someones rationale argument against.

October 15, 2009 at 5:15 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks for the comment Denise! Any pictures of your litte ones all harnessed up? If you have one, send it to me and I will put the picture on this post. Just use the email contact on the upper right hand side of the home page!

October 15, 2009 at 5:18 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Ack! That sounds totally scary Karla. Thank god Alex was just fine. I do agree with what you have to say. Do what works for YOUR family. Other peoples opinions are just that. Their opinions.

October 15, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks for correcting the whole leash vs. lead wording! Any pictures of us girls all attached to the lead? Email me and I will put it up in this post :)

October 15, 2009 at 5:20 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks Kristen. I agree that the whole harness thing doesn't have to be used all the time but situation to situation. I don't know how you manages to make it through traveling with an infant and a 3 year old. Amazing~!!

October 15, 2009 at 5:21 PM  
jag said...

PERFECT for Disney! We used them there too. We broke them out a little to early developmentally speaking though. 2 of our 4 weren't quite ready. But for the 2 that used them successfully, they had a blast, and I wasn't panic stricken in the crowds! PRO-HARNESS here!

April 11, 2010 at 5:32 AM  

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