To harness or not to harness... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I are comteplating a harness for our 14.5 month old. She is so active and has no fear...at all! She will run off in the blink of an eye and she is incredibly fast. Right now we basically follow her around constantly pulling her away from different situations dangerous or just not productive. It seems like a harness would be the best option; however, it just can't bring ourselves to purchase one.
We just can't get over the idea that it is basically a leash and if that is damaging to her psyche in some way? Also, I wonder if it will inhibit her curiosity? Sometimes I feel like we are just being lazy and should just get over it and follow her around like we are doing, but other times it feels like an absolute necessity.
I would love to hear some thoughts on the issue or if you use one what your experience has been.
thanks.

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#2 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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we haven't gotten one for DD, mostly because of lazyness on my part. but there are times I really wish we had one because she loves going for walks but there's enough traffic a toddler running into the middle of the road would be dangerous, and she's run away from me at the mall before. there are times when a toddler running off can be really dangerous, and little ones are too short to comfortably hold hands with an adult for any length of time. my mom used a leash with me (not a harness, but one that attached to the wrist) because there were a couple of times that she lost me in a store and it took several minutes to locate me, and I don't have any damage from being leashed.

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#3 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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I personally do not like them at all but it's a personal choice. I believe with patience and a firm hand holding children learn they can't run off. It used to be an issue with DD. She could either hold my hand and walk or in the carrier or stroller. It took quite a few back in the carrier or back in the stroller situations before she stopped trying to run off.
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#4 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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I think they are awesome, not damaging, and a great tool for kids to have autonomy, the ability to explore their environment, and remain safe at the same time.
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#5 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 05:47 PM
 
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and if you have a ring sling, you can use that as a harness - you don't need to buy a special one.
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#6 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 06:28 PM
 
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Get the harness. I think you'll regret not doing it. What else would you do? Would you put her in a stroller or sling her up in a crowded place? Harness is no different. I never had one, but none of my kids are runners- I know plenty of kids who are enough that I would buy one in a hot second.

I think if she runs so much it's making outings not enjoyable, go ahead and harness her. She'll still figure out hand holding when she's a little older. You could teach her now(though how long it will take and how hard it will be is wildly variable), but there's no harm in the harness, and if it makes everybody's life better, hooray.
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#7 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 09:12 PM
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i have a kid kind of like that in my class. now, i don;t deal with her running off in public places or for longer periods of time but when i do have to wrangle her i hold onto her by the hood of her coat. or is that bad???

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#8 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 09:23 PM
 
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We used a harness for our kiddo, probably starting around that age. We got a cute teddy bear backpack style. DS1 loved it, we loved it. It gave him much more freedom, because he could walk safely without holding our hands. He was able to explore his environment as well - we had the most fun hiking and going to the zoo with that backpack! DS1 is VERY independent, as soon as he learned how to walk he was done with carriers and strollers (unless he was too tired to keep walking). The harness was awesome. It was also fantastic in the airport.

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#9 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 09:53 PM
 
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I kept meaning to get a harness for dd, but never got around to it. Ended up strapping her into the stroller or carrying her instead. Which I think were worse than a harness would've been since they were so much more limiting.

DD was actually quite good at holding hands. Where a harness would've been handy was when I didn't have a hand conveniently free and she wasn't in a hand holding mood. Like every single visit to the library between a year and 24 months.
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#10 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 09:57 PM
 
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I think they are awesome, not damaging, and a great tool for kids to have autonomy, the ability to explore their environment, and remain safe at the same time.
Well put.

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#11 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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I wouldn't use one on a child, and admit to sort of cringing anytime I see one in use. Of course, I also admit that we're crazy babywearers and just wore DS2 everywhere all the time. Either he walked with us holding hands, or up onto someone's back he went. No ifs, ands, or buts.
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#12 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 10:25 PM
 
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I think they are a great tool, but we don't have one. Our kids never been ones to want to walk when we were are out at that age. If they do they must walk with us or they get held. I figure that if I have to use it to stop them from running off and they are yanking at the end I might as well pick them up. Now we have a friend with kids 13 months apart, and holding them both is just not a option. I would most definitely have a harness then.

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#13 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 10:48 PM
 
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the thought crosses my mind. i have twins and they both like to run away from me. when i see people with toddlers who actually stay with their parents, it totally blows my mind!

but i can't shake the feeling that i'd feel like a dog walker.....

also, i feel like they'd just get annoyed with it and pull like an untrained dog....

sorry about all of the dog analogies! i think it's kind of funny

i guess what i'm getting at is that i have absolutely no problem with it, as long as the kid is happy with it. but i still can't quite bring myself to do it. the peculiarity of it just gets to me. but if you can get past it, by all means, do it!
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#14 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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Now we have a friend with kids 13 months apart, and holding them both is just not a option. I would most definitely have a harness then.
Mine are 14 months apart, and DH isn't around for a bit. I picked one up last week. I'm letting DS 1 wear it around the house just for fun, and hopefully he will not mind using it in public. He is two, but does not understand that he can't run off in parking lots etc. The 1 yo is usually worn, and while I can gold his hand much of the time, it's much more comfortable for both of us if he has a little space when he wants it, the harness will actually allow him more freedom to explore than he has when I hold his hand.

I used to cringe at them as well. Now I see them as a tool- they can either be used properly or improperly.
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#15 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 11:06 PM
 
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We bought one for ds1 because mil requested it. She didn't feel comfortable walking with him on a busy street even though he was never the type to run away. We never used it, not once. I kept it in case we wanted it for a crowded area. But I didn't think it would work. I imagined he'd fall to his knees as soon as it was on, cursing the the thing not sure if it was going to be like that or not but I just never felt we needed it. We bought it on sale for $6 at a kids store so we din't really waste our money.
We have a ds2 now that is 18 months, but I actually just gave the harness away. I just can't see myself using it. I really don't have too much against them, I just don't see my kids functioning while attached to one although I haven't tried

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#16 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 11:13 PM
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sorry about all of the dog analogies! i think it's kind of funny
i have one dog and one kid. i've worked at a doggy daycare and a real kid daycare....trust me, there's alot more than the leashes that are analogous.
(except the dog usually listens to me...)
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#17 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 11:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input everyone.
For those of you with very active children and didn't/don't use a harness, what was the age they began to grasp the whole hand holding thing? DD will hold our hand(s) for about 10 seconds then squirms and pulls away. Is it just my LO? I thought girls were supposed to be calmer?

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#18 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 11:35 PM
 
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i give the choice that he can hold my hand or come up. I do this for crossing streets or if it's a crowded area.

He often will go limp if I make him hold my hand, so he comes up. If we have the stroller then that becomes an option too.

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#19 of 50 Old 11-02-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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I didn't read all of the posts, but I will tell you it is one of the best things we ever got

We originally got it bec we were flying. DS was a fast 17mo & I was 7mo pg. I knew it was going to be tough. It has been worth every penny. We got one that looks like a back pack. It was also great at the end of the pg to use for walks since I was slow at that point.

DS is almost 27mo now & on occasion will still want to wear his 'pack' if we go for a walk & will even wear it around the house. it also has enabled his grandparents to walk him around since there is no way they could keep up with him otherwise

DS is just now getting good at hand holding. I think it started around 25 - 26mo.

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#20 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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I used to cringe at them as well. Now I see them as a tool- they can either be used properly or improperly.
I feel the same way, though we have never used them and don't plan to.

I guess in your particular situation, OP, it seems a bit silly and unnecessary to me to get one. You mention you and dh being places with her. It seems to me that two healthy adults (I know I'm making an assumption here) should be able to keep up with a toddler.

In a situation where it's a single parent with two little ones, or a pregnant mama who can't move as quickly, or a parent who for some reason isn't physically as capable as he/she needs to be to chase a toddler.... then it seems like a harness is more necessary or could be extremely helpful.

I'm not saying that harnesses are wrong or immoral or damaging or anything like that. They just seem silly and unnecessary to me in some cases.

Also, my littlest isn't walking yet, but I cannot imagine her "allowing" us to put a harness on her. Oh the tantrum she'd have!

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#21 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 02:49 PM
 
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Thanks for the input everyone.
For those of you with very active children and didn't/don't use a harness, what was the age they began to grasp the whole hand holding thing? DD will hold our hand(s) for about 10 seconds then squirms and pulls away. Is it just my LO? I thought girls were supposed to be calmer?
DD held my hand quite young, but she's on the taller side. When she'd want to walk around holding hands before she could walk alone, it didn't hurt my back nearly as much as it had with her cousin because I didn't have to bend over as far.

Same cousin also was more reluctant to hold hands after she walked independently. Part personality, part just having to stretch more.
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#22 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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I`ve thought about one as DD is a runner but they make me squirm although the logical part of my mind thinks they`re great, I have no idea why I feel so hesitant. MIL used them for DH but I still can`t wrap my head around it and we do use a stroller which logically seems worse. So far DD has never tried to run into the street and stays on the sidewalk so I just let her walk by herself and follow her. I carry her kicking and screaming and tantruming across every single street.

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#23 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 03:41 PM
 
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I don't see how allowing a kid a small amount of autonomy (leash) can be worse than allowing them none at all (sling, stroller). I'm totally getting a leash with the next paycheck. My kid loves to walk on his own, but he is not a fan of holding mommy's hand. AND he is also a street darter. Walking with him requires such a heightened level of awareness from me that its incredibly stressful. Plus I'm missing out on the world since I can only look down .

I think it is probably something that will vary with every child, much like in the carrier-vs-stroller debate. There are lots of mamas that do fine with not having a stroller, but my kid could never handle the carrier for long periods of time either. Now he can't handle the carrier or stroller for long...he just wants to walk, walk, walk...on his own with no hand holding! He is very stubborn about it. I love the fact that he is likes walking with me, but he has no danger awareness . So I've weighed the options and I think a leash is a great compromise. Oh, and he just turned 16 months.
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#24 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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I've seen the harness used very well in conjunction with other techniques. When the babe is old enough for some impulse control The parents wean the babe from the backpack.

I think its great, but again I'd hold hands even if she is, to teach that skill and not rely on it as a solution but rather as a safety net.

DS isn't old enough for it yet, but I wouldn't hesitate to use one if he needed it.

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#25 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 06:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel the same way, though we have never used them and don't plan to.

I guess in your particular situation, OP, it seems a bit silly and unnecessary to me to get one. You mention you and dh being places with her. It seems to me that two healthy adults (I know I'm making an assumption here) should be able to keep up with a toddler.

In a situation where it's a single parent with two little ones, or a pregnant mama who can't move as quickly, or a parent who for some reason isn't physically as capable as he/she needs to be to chase a toddler.... then it seems like a harness is more necessary or could be extremely helpful.

I'm not saying that harnesses are wrong or immoral or damaging or anything like that. They just seem silly and unnecessary to me in some cases.

Also, my littlest isn't walking yet, but I cannot imagine her "allowing" us to put a harness on her. Oh the tantrum she'd have!
For the most part I do agree with you, especially when it comes to her letting us put one on her (she hates anything binding). We can and do keep up with her for the most part and we are hoping that she will soon learn to hold hands and stay close; however, in crowded situations, which we are in often (we have passes to Disneyland, the zoo, the aquarium and go the the farmers market twice a week) we are starting to worry a bit.
Like I said before, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I think we have decided to hold off for a bit and see if we can wait the running like a crazy women through the store thing out.

Mama to Madelynn 8/16/2009 and awaiting buggy #2 March/2011 , partner to DH

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#26 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD held my hand quite young, but she's on the taller side. When she'd want to walk around holding hands before she could walk alone, it didn't hurt my back nearly as much as it had with her cousin because I didn't have to bend over as far.

Same cousin also was more reluctant to hold hands after she walked independently. Part personality, part just having to stretch more.
The height thing may be part of the reason she doesn't like holding hands, she is only 29", pretty small for her age. Also we never actually had to hold her hand even when she first started walking. At 10 months when she took her first steps, she was a 100% stable walker, maybe she just needs to get used to it?
When my DH can we each take one hand, she seems to like that a bit more, but probably because we do
swingies.

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#27 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A couple of people made a point I had never thought of, a carrier (which I use often) and a stroller (which we use occasionally) seem a lot more restrictive then a harness.

Mama to Madelynn 8/16/2009 and awaiting buggy #2 March/2011 , partner to DH

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#28 of 50 Old 11-03-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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A couple of people made a point I had never thought of, a carrier (which I use often) and a stroller (which we use occasionally) seem a lot more restrictive then a harness.
That's how it was for my son. He never rode in a stroller (really, from the time he was born he would scream like someone was killing him if you put him in one. He was a high needs kid!) and once he learned to walk, he would only allow me to sling him if he wanted to nurse or was very, very tired. He was a big kid, and there was no safe way to sling him (even if I could handle the screaming) if he didn't want to be slung. He really, really loved the harness and picked it every single time over hand holding/stroller/baby wearing.
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#29 of 50 Old 11-05-2010, 07:34 PM
 
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OP, I would absolutely get one if you end up deciding that your DD needs it. It is a safety issue! Certainly it's good to teach her to stay with you; but there are some situations where if she ignores you and runs off anyways, it's ok (like at an uncrowded park), and other situations where she could get really hurt if she runs off for even a second (like near a busy road). It seems like a good idea for the latter kind of situation, at least until she is old enough to understand why she needs to hold your hand. I definitely see why you're having a hard time getting past the "it's a leash" thing, but it seems it would be OK as long as you don't have her in it constantly, which I'm sure you wouldn't.

On a side note, reading this makes me appreciate my own toddler. My 17 month old DS clings to me all the time, so I've never even considered a harness. Sometimes it feels a little suffocating having him cling to me so much, but this thread made me realize there is both good and bad to having a timid child like mine, and both good and bad to having a bold child like yours. They have such distinct little personalities already at this age! Anyways, good luck with your DD!
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#30 of 50 Old 11-05-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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We tried a harness and my DD rejected it. With ferver

She walked at 10mo and has always been small, so at that point holding hands wasn't even an option because you would have to bend over to do so. We got her one of the animal backpack harnesses and she would wear it, but if the tail tugged on her even a little bit she would lay down on the floor and scream her head off. Always a joy in the middle of a store.

After that we would only let her walk when one of us was available to shadow her, and we felt it was safe. Like in an uncrowded mall or something. If I was doing groceries on my own, we were someplace busy, or somewhere unsafe she would be in arms, in a stroller or in a cart. We still let her walk on her own a lot, she just had an adult focusing on her while she did so.

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