Leashes for children? Yes or no? - Mothering Forums
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Parenting > Leashes for children? Yes or no?
mamazee's Avatar mamazee 12:44 PM 04-08-2013
How do you all feel about leashes? I was at a children's museum with my kids over spring break, and there was a mom there with a kid (maybe 3) on a leash. It got me to thinking.

I didn't use a leash, however one of my kids was a real bolter as a toddler. She just didn't stay close and even when she was close her attention would get drawn to something and she'd be off without a word, and fast! I thought about getting a leash for her, and might have if my older child weren't old enough that I didn't have to worry about both of them - and in fact helped me keep track of her.

On the other hand, this child was probably 3, but maybe 4, and was in a play area and was held back from the play due to the leash. I wonder if that's a bit old for leashes, and if about using them inside a safe area (ie without traffic.)

Have you ever used them? Have you ever thought about them? Do you have an opinion on them? AND, do you (like me) think they are reasonable in some cases but question them in others (like for kids a bit older than typical, or in a safe play zone.)

And then on the other hand yet again, it occurred to me that this child might have had special needs that had the parent worried about him wandering off. I didn't notice anything about him that would lead me to think that, but of course I'm not his parent and don't know what's up. I am wondering about them more in general than about this particular mother. I do try to reserve judgement about specifics because I don't know what all is involved, but seeing it did make me wonder in a more general sense about leashes in safe places like that.

AllisonR's Avatar AllisonR 03:29 PM 04-08-2013

I saw someone using one when we were in Disney in California 2 years ago. Don't have them here I don't think. And I would never use one. Here when you go into a big place like an amusement park, you can get an extra arm band for your child's arm. You write your name, their name and your phone number on it. If they get lost, anyone can take them to an employee or info desk and then they call you or page you. They are used to lost kids, crying kids... they give them coloring books or game or gum or something until you come. I lost my kids once in the mall and they were upset but happy with the gum. I think in the states again I would just put my own arm band on my kids, or write our telephone number on their arm. 

kitteh's Avatar kitteh 05:00 PM 04-08-2013

I was seriously considering one for my DD when she was maybe 14months old. She was a very early walker (started at 8.5 months! I hope I don't have any others who do that!) so by the time she was about 14 months old she was pretty stable on her feet, and FAST, but had no impulse control and was definitely NOT very consistent about listening to me or DH. She was a bolter, and it wasn't so much the risk of getting lost that I feared as it was just for her general safety. We live in Los Angeles, so our walks to the park or library are frequently near areas with fairly heavy traffic, and she used to head STRAIGHT for the street sometimes!


We never did end up getting one as I was too self conscious about what others might think. Now that she just turned 3 she is much better at listening and complying when we say STOP! and we have been teaching her that she has to stop at alleyways and curbs to check for cars, and that we NEVER cross the street or alley without holding hands. Now I feel much safer bringing her out without the added security of a leash, so from my experience I would say that 2.5 to 3 yrs old and up is too old for a leash. Of course, that's assuming that all 3 yr olds listen and learn traffic safety rules like mine has. It's entirely possible that there are older kids for whom impulse control is still an issue.


I might consider getting one if I had a number of small kids to look after and one was a bolter. I have a feeling that I won't need it for the next baby that is due in June, mostly because DD really likes to be in charge (read: she's bossy!) so I think she will do a good job helping me corral her little sister, if necessary.

Escaping's Avatar Escaping 05:16 PM 04-08-2013

I was going to get one for this summer too. Like ketteh, my son started walking at 8.5 months too and people just don't realize what he's capable of! Normally a kid with the mind set of a 12 month old is just meandering around, falling down, easy to keep track of... my son RUNS! and he's totally unpredictable! bigeyes.gif Yesterday while I was trying to get my stroller into the back of my SUV, against my better judgment I thought it would be simpler if I just stood him on the sidewalk (I was parallel parked) and put the stroller in, instead of putting him in his carseat first and then putting the stroller away. I knew I had to watch him so I kept my eyes on him and blindly started throwing things into the cargo area... and he just takes off for no reason down the sidewalk (at least he gave me that!)... so I had no choice but to just drop the stroller, leave my purse which was on the road and run after him... A leash would have been really handy at that point. 

Jennyanydots's Avatar Jennyanydots 05:24 PM 04-08-2013
I bought one for DS (also an early walker- 7.5 months, unbelievably), because i found it used at a consignment store for cheap and i was thinking it would help me keep him closer and more secure, but it's just been collecting dust. I don't care at all what any observer might think of him wearing it, but it didn't seem practical after all. By the time he was old enough for me to let him walk on his own in public places (besides kids' play areas, where, as PP mentioned, a leash would be too restrictive), he was old enough to start learning to hold my hand. Also, the placement of the cord means that you're tugging the child from behind, and the tension seems like it would knock him off balance instead of gently redirecting him.

We used it once, maybe twice, right after I bought it, just to try it out on a walk from the car into a restaurant. I wasn't impressed, and I really want to keep him closer in dangerous situations like crowds or near the street- I'd rather hold him or hold his hand.

I don't think they're inherently bad, I just didn't find it all that useful. But who knows? I still have it, and he's not even two yet, so we may try again sometime.

ETA: Escaping- I think it would have been useful in that situation, too! Yikes!!
dalia's Avatar dalia 05:35 PM 04-08-2013
Have you ever seen someone being dragged down the street as they tried to walk their dog? Yeah, that was my son LOL. I tried but he would just pull and pull and ended up falling down, which pretty much made me look like the worst parent ever. My son is very spirited!

Even though we only used it a few times, I like them. I think some folks don't like the way they look because of what it reminds them of (a dog being walked on a leash), but if you think about it, they are much more restricted when strapped to you or in a stroller. Not that there is anything wrong with baby wearing or stroller pushing (I did both), but I think some kids just want to be walking, and this is a way they can do that safely.

Anyway nowadays they have really cute ones that look like monkeys and bears. My son loved his.

ETA: just to be clear I did not drag my son, he dragged me! And then he would keep falling. This was when he was about ten months old.
kathymuggle's Avatar kathymuggle 05:55 PM 04-08-2013
Originally Posted by dalia View Post

Anyway nowadays they have really cute ones that look like monkeys and bears. My son loved his.

I saw a monkey one - it was cute.  The child wore a small monkey shaped backpack and the tail linked to the mum.  


If you have a darter, I say go for it.  

wrenb's Avatar wrenb 06:27 PM 04-08-2013
I've used mine with both kids now, primarily in airports. DD started using it at 12 months, DS I don't recall when we started, but we were done by 2 1/2. It lets them get the wiggles out while still letting me maintain control in a stimulating adult environment.
lovemylab's Avatar lovemylab 06:43 PM 04-08-2013
My dd just turned two and in a few weeks new baby will be arriving. I plan on have a backpack style one for her. She is fast and breaks free from holding hands in parking lots. I think until she can understand danger a bit more or listen better she will have to be "leashed". I rather we look silly then her get hit by a car. I just don't seem myself running after her while holding a infant carseat too. Guess you gotta know your limits...
Storm Bride's Avatar Storm Bride 07:38 PM 04-08-2013

I've never seen this discussion go well on MDC, but...


I have no problem with them. I used one with dd1 when ds2 was born. She was two and a bit, and tended to run away. I'd had a c-section and wasn't physically capable of chasing her. My incision was infected, and it was weeks before I could do much more than walk at a slow pace. So, I put her in the harness and we went for walks and/or to the nearby tourist farm. Without that harness, she'd have basically been inside for almost two months. It gave her a ton of freedom, and kept her safe at the same time.

Sure - they can be misused. So can carriers and slings. In most cases, it's not the tool that's the problem - it's the way it's used.


I would have used one with ds2 up to about the age of five, if I'd been able to do so (he'd figured out how to undo the fastener long before that). He looks, and usually acts, like a perfectly normal child, but he does have behavioural issues, and was very prone to darting into parking lots for a long, long time.

dalia's Avatar dalia 07:47 PM 04-08-2013
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

I've never seen this discussion go well on MDC, but...

LOL. I admit I'm sitting here waiting for the storm to begin....
Mulvah's Avatar Mulvah 07:56 PM 04-08-2013

It isn't my thing, but I don't care what other people use.  Personally, I'd prefer to use a wrap or stroller than a leash. 

34me's Avatar 34me 08:22 PM 04-08-2013
I also had an early walker, another 7 monther. He hated the stroller and Really liked to explore places at his own pace and level. We often used one at the zoo so he could explore more independently without having his arm jacked out of the shoulder and myself or my 6'2" dh all hunched over to hold his hand. We gave the other end to his sister who is 30 months older. We got A LOT of weird looks. But it worked for them and us. At 19 and 16 they don't seem to be scarred. He's actually our most independent kid.
colsxjack's Avatar colsxjack 08:38 PM 04-08-2013

I would use one if needed. With our DD we never needed to. She wasn't a bolter. And never once tried to run into the road. We live in a very busy urban area, and felt pretty safe going for walks with her. She stays on the sidewalk and holds our hand to cross the street.


If one of our boys turns out be be a runner, or impulsive around roads, we will use a leash. I feel it can give a kid some freedom to explore while keeping them safe near roads or in parking lots.

Our nephew was a runner. His parent spent 90% of all of their time out literally  chasing after him. He would just run and run. Glad my DD wasn;t like that and really hope my sons aren't. Don;t think we will be going to many places that aren;t fenced in.

Escaping's Avatar Escaping 08:53 AM 04-09-2013
Originally Posted by dalia View Post

LOL. I admit I'm sitting here waiting for the storm to begin....


Uh oh... dare I ask, what's "wrong" with leashes? It never occurred to me that it would cause strong opinions either way? blush.gif

mamazee's Avatar mamazee 09:01 AM 04-09-2013
There's an emotional argument about leashes that they are disrespectful of children and that using them amounts to treating children like dogs. Also, I think the image people have in their heads sometimes is people pulling on the leash to move their child, but I've only ever seen them used similarly to holding hands, just to keep the child nearby, but leashes give more freedom because the child has both hands free and a bit more room to move in.

I think it's always been a minority opinion here so it's possible parents with that opinion are shy to get involved in the discussion. Also, I think public opinion in general was more anti-leash once upon a time and people are getting more used to the idea of them, so there might just be fewer parents opposed to them.

Some kids hate being in strollers, and really need to physically move themselves around. IMO it's about knowing your child, like so much else in parenting. Kids have different needs and we need to find the best way we can to meet their needs in a way that keeps them safe. Just like different kids have different activity levels, and so some aren't content in strollers or slings but some area, different kids need different levels of supervision to keep them safe. Some won't wander off, and some won't stay near. Some are afraid of roads and therefore cautious, and some don't get the danger. Some need to be physically kept from bolting every moment, and some are OK just being in arm's reach but not physically restrained.
kathymuggle's Avatar kathymuggle 09:12 AM 04-09-2013
Originally Posted by Escaping View Post


Uh oh... dare I ask, what's "wrong" with leashes? It never occurred to me that it would cause strong opinions either way? blush.gif

Well, I do think the a big part of it is the word "leash" - it conjures up dog images for some people.


Eta:  cross posted with mamazee - what she said.

Escaping's Avatar Escaping 09:52 AM 04-09-2013

Oh ok, well that argument is invalid with me and many other of my dog owner friends... their dogs a literally treated better than a lot of children I know :)... I'm not talking treating dogs like human children, but feeding them the healthiest possible diet, exercising, stimulating and training them so they're as happy and healthy as possible and all of their needs are met... The physical tools that someone uses to keep their child (or dog) happy and healthy don't matter to me in the slightest. 


I kind of think comparing a dog to a toddler is pretty fair though, actually. They have roughly the same vocabulary, level of predictability/impulse control and I wouldn't not put my dogs on a leash in much of the same situations that I wouldn't let my son run free, such as parking lots or traffic. It only takes a second for a child to not realize what they're doing even if they were told to stay in one place and are normally good listeners. 

GISDiva's Avatar GISDiva 10:32 AM 04-09-2013

We used one for a short time after I said I'd never use one.  There was just a period of a few months where he figured out he could run and wasn't quite old enough to understand danger and "stop". He never tugged on it and gave him just the right amount of independence.  In fact, he never bolted with it on because he felt he didn't need to pull one over on us.  We only used it at airports and things like that, so it wasn't something we used regularly.  We only used it in situations where either we'd have our hands full and couldn't stop him running into other people, or we knew we'd be walking along busy streets.


I guess by that time, I was already used to dirty looks about my parenting. lol.gif

lovemylab's Avatar lovemylab 10:59 AM 04-09-2013
It's funny I posted early that I am ordering one for my daughter. But if you have asked me even a year ago if I'd even use one I would have laughed. I use to work at an amusement park as a young adult and I also laughed at the families that tethered their kids. People change I guess, priorities and otherwise.
Quinalla's Avatar Quinalla 02:28 PM 04-09-2013
I see child leashes as a safety device like any other safety device (carseat, baby gate, etc.). Can it be used incorrectly or overused, sure, but the vast majority of the time it is used to keep the child safe and I think they are great when needed either in tough situations or with a child that is a bolter. I am considering getting one for DD as I will soon have infant twins and I think having one would be nice for wrangling twins + toddler in parking lots and in crowded spaces (zoos, malls, etc.) and it may be nice to have one or two when I'm chasing two beginning walkers and also keeping track of a preschooler smile.gif I also plan to use strollers and carriers to help too, but I'm definitely open to using a leash if needed.
meemee's Avatar meemee 07:43 PM 04-09-2013

before i was a parent i was vehemently opposed to one.


yeah i would have been the one coming here raising a ruckus.


but after i had dd - oh boy do i understand. however i never used one as dd was not a bolter. but i totally understood if another mom had to use them.


in my friends circle for many moms it was a godsend for the airport.

alaskanmomma's Avatar alaskanmomma 07:54 PM 04-09-2013
I used one for a bit... Sometimes kids don't want to be worn, and it's safer to have them walk with something other than a hand that can be let go of helping out. I got my daughter a leash when she was 20 months and I was heavily pregnant with my son. We were at the mall, and in the split second it took me to swipe my card, she bolted. After that we went straight to Walmart and got one of the cute little animal backpack ones. We only used it as a back up to the stroller/baby wearing when out and about in big public places like the mall, zoo, airport, etc. I also used one while our and about in HI. I didn't know Honolulu/our surroundings, and last thing I wanted was to wrangle two toddlers who decide to run off.

As long as you don't use them to yank on or drag the child, they really are no harm IMO. My kids loved the backpack part of it and hardly noticed in addition to their hand in mine there was also the leash. I do find it odd the mom you encountered was in a play area and still had the leash on :/ I feel they should be used for places you aren't familiar with/they can run off in a second, not a play place, sort of takes the point of going to a play place out.
skycheattraffic's Avatar skycheattraffic 08:31 PM 04-09-2013
I don't need one with DD but I can certainly see where a specific child might need one for safety in specific situations. For instance we live close to a beautiful big park but getting there requires navigating a very busy, very weird intersection where two main one way roads intersect and intermingle and both become two way. It's not uncommon for nonlocals to make a mistake and drive into a one way portion going the wrong way and it's a very very busy area. My 2 year old stays on the sidewalk nicely, then holds hands to cross the road. She doesn't run ahead more than 3 or 4 feet and never steps off the curb by herself. I fell completely safe walking this route with her. If she was a bolter, I'd definitely have a leash on her but only until we got to the park. Once inside the fence, I'd let her run and explore since the park is very well enclosed and fairly quiet. I try not to judge other parents based on a snapshot. Maybe the leash lets their child experience something that would be completely unsafe without it.
grumpybear's Avatar grumpybear 01:01 AM 04-10-2013
My kids aren't bolters but I use them when traveling. We have the animal backpacks and while I hold their hand, I wrap the leash around my wrist. It's very handy when I have to momentarily let go of their hand when I have to get something from my purse, etc. I don't see a problem with them.
Fillyjonk's Avatar Fillyjonk 01:20 AM 04-10-2013

"Sure - they can be misused. So can carriers and slings. In most cases, it's not the tool that's the problem - it's the way it's used."


This is the crux of the argument for me.


I've known many, many parents in my early parenting days who who where exceedingly vocal about the evils of having a child on reins (is that a leash? Never heard that word). But their solution to having a kid who was a bolter was to strap them in a buggy (or put them in a carrier). So they would see it as preferable that the kid was confined and unable to run.


We live in an urban area and both my child's safety and his right to exercise were more important to me than what other people thought. When my son was not quite two, and we had a second child, we used reins on occasion. This was a kid who, you opened the front door and he just ran. (He's still like that but more philosophically nowadays ROTFLMAO.gif ).  He was pure energy at that age (he still is-its pretty much impossible to physically tire him out even now he's nearly 10). At the same time we worked a lot on road safety and a big advantage of the reins was that he was physically beside me, making road safety decisions, rather than in a sling or pushchair being passive. We aimed for situations where where could let him off the reins, of course, and talked to him about the whole thing. I'd say by around age 3, he had really good traffic awareness and was also prepared to hold people's hands, and at nearly 10 I'm completely happy for him to wander around the neighbourhood on his own. 


For us it was a tool to extend his interactions with the world, to allow him to do things he couldn't otherwise do. The easiest thing in the world would have been to have put him in the double buggy and I did sometimes (I have 22 months between my older two) but the best situation for everyone was for him to be on reins in traffic / river areas and his sister in a sling and he and I walking.


I guess I'm trying to say that I think, usually, there's a reason for what people do. Honestly the only time I've known them used for older kids would be for a serious behavioural infraction (I wouldn't do this but I don't think its the end of the world, if what you're doing is making a kid stay with you rather than letting them go off and beat up littler kids, say) or where there is SEN. 

LLQ1011's Avatar LLQ1011 03:47 AM 04-10-2013

I have never used one but its more because every time I try to help ds be mobile I always cause more harm than good. If he looks like he is going to fall and I try to help him somehow 80% of the time he ends up worse than when I intervened. I just Imagine me knocking him over constantly with one of these things.

The4OfUs's Avatar The4OfUs 07:16 AM 04-10-2013

Considering my choices, when my daughter was about 18-24 months, were:


A)  Child screaming bloody murder and thrasing, while contained in a stroller or shopping cart.

B)  Child screaming bloody murder and thrasing, while contained in backpack/sling carrier.

C)  Child screaming bloody murder and alternately thrashing/dropping to the floor limp-noodle style, while holding my hand and "walking".

D)  Child darting wildly between other pedestrians, potentially being injuredby or *causing* injury or damage to others or objects around her, and me having to chase her around/apologize/fix messed up things while also tending to 3-yo older sibling.




E)  Child happily walking along while wearing stuffed bear backpack with tether...



Guess which one I'm going to pick?  winky.gif


I actually only used it a few times in that agespan (and probably should have used it more).  But it was worth every.damn.penny and nuts to anyone who thought badly of me....I would suggest *they* were welcome to figure out a way to supervise both of my children, in my stead.

demeter888's Avatar demeter888 05:14 PM 04-10-2013

mamazee, I love answering simple questions and sharing my terribly important opinion:-)


I have no problem with a leash (I think they are also called harnesses) )because it is so much better than a stroller and still contains the child if used correctly.  My son is ripe for a harness being almost 2, and I don't think I have to explain the multiple locations where a stroller is inconvenient and deprives a child of the exercise and holding hands and expecting a child to cooperate is just unrealistic.


I would probably not use a harness through a busy street with moving cars or other hazards because of the risk of it breaking.

escuderom's Avatar escuderom 02:08 PM 04-11-2013

I cannot judge anyone that uses them because we all do our best to manage our children in this society which has changed a lot from the one our parents or grandparents lived in.  There are more crowds, traffic, and dangerous streets and I could see how they may be useful.  For my first born I usually wore her or sometimes used the stroller but like many mothers that have posted here I now have an early walker and it is so different.  She dislikes being worn and to be on a stroller she is very independent and likes to wonder or dart on her own to explore so I am highly considering buying one.  She often pulls away from me and wants to dart into the street.  For my sanity and her safety I think I should buy one.  Actually thank you for this discussion because I didn't even think of buying this item before but reading all the comments above I think it is just what I need for my daughter.  All children and parents are different and have different needs, so it is what it is.  I believe the name "leash" seems kind of negative comparing child to dog but otherwise it seems like a useful item, as long it is not overused and of course there are safe spaces where a child should be free to explore on his/her own and there will time where my daughter is aware of her safety and I probably wont have any use for it then.  It is about balance and moderation and options :) now I have one more. Thank you.

Tags: Toddlers , Children
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