We had a loooooong thread on this a while ago... someone may have linked to it already
I have no problem with harnesses as long as both parties are agreeable to it. If a child wants to walk and be able to wander a couple of feet from mama or whoever. doesn't want to hold hands, or be in a cart, or stroller and is happy
with a harness -- what is the big deal?
We found a ring sling works too ... the ringed part under our daughter's arms around her chest with me holding the tail --- it helped her a lot when she was a new walker and still unsure of herself --- we haven't used it since but if she is agreeable to a harness later on, it is not out of my toolbox.
Our goal in parenting (me and dh's that is) is to make sure our daughter is as safe, happy, comfortable, and free as she can be ... while at the same time making sure we as her parents feel safe, happy, and comfortable too ... if a harness meets her need to explore a couple of feet away and meets our need to know she is closeby and everyone is happy... I don't see the issue.
Though, this is coming from someone who is a very strict vegetarian and animal rights activist and wouldn't at all be insulted by someone comparing it to a *leash* --- my dog (who is not with us anymore
) got treated better than most people in my life did