Parenting dilemma: Toddler safety harness or not?

August 23, 2013 7 Comments

We have been struggling with this ever since we knew we were becoming parents. Ostensibly, my wife and I are both against the idea of a toddler safety harness, but since the boy moved in, and we realised he has ants in his pants, we have rethought the whole thing.

To me, the toddler safety harness has the look of a parent forcing an unnatural restraint on their child, more akin to walking a pet, than controlling a child.

The more experience I gain as a parent however, the more I realise that it is not about restraint, nor control, but fundamentally about safety. It is after all, a toddler safety harness.

During the weekend, whilst I was still conflicted as to whether we should invest in something along these lines, my wife took it upon herself to purchase a wrist strap. I proffered little protestation; she was usually right on these things.

Toddler safety harness – backpack reins

We thought about the backpack reins first. Backpack reins are where the child wears a backpack in the normal fashion, and some reins stretch out of the back so the parent can keep hold of the little one.

I like this idea. It seems to allow the child a certain amount of freedom with the added benefit a cool looking backpack.

There are a number of different designs, so the child can have a say in the style of the product.

Toddler safety harness – wrist strap

The next toddler safety harness option is the wrist strap. This is what we have bought first off, and something we have briefly tried. It is however bordering on handcuffing your child to either yourself or the buggy.

I first tried the wrist strap attaching the boy to myself, and it did not last long. My self-respect, or pride, or something, got the better of me. It felt utterly demeaning to both of us, and I couldn’t continue looking like I was treating the boy as I would an over-active Spaniel.

On my second attempt I tethered the non-child end to the buggy, which instantly felt a lot better. The boy now had his freedom, and was able to walk alongside his daddy without having to suffer the intolerable jarring ride of the buggy.

Our first outing was just down the village, and whilst he strayed slightly from the his path once or twice, and tripped over the buggy, he seemed to appreciate the ability to use his own legs. It also allowed me to start teaching him about crossing the road, which he got the hang of remarkably quickly.

By my own admission, I realise I have engendered hypocrisy here. By not persevering with the wrist strap attached to myself, but being perfectly happy that it is attached to the buggy makes it appear that I am fine to demean the boy as long as my own stature stays wrist strap free.

This is not the case. The safety of my son is my first priority. I would want to demean neither of us, but the truth of the matter is – one end of the strap has to go on the boy, otherwise he will spend his life sat in that buggy. I want him to have some freedom… I just ensure it is the freedom of the pavement.

I would love to know your thoughts on the toddler safety harness – is it useful? Is it demeaning? Is there a better way? Please leave a comment below, and I will make sure you get a reply.

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About the Author:

Andrew is an adoptive father, and stay at home dad. Having adopted his son in January 2013, he is a new adoptive parent, but well versed in the adoption process. He is a married, coffee drinker, Xbox addict, and a Marketing graduate. Andrew McDougall is an alias he uses to protect the identity of his adopted son.

Comments (7)

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  1. Yeah, well, there are lots of things that non-parents say they will NEVER do when they have children, but the reality of parenting is sometimes very different from the fantasy. I had a Twitter friend say that she would ‘never’ put her child on a ‘leash’ – needless to say she doesn’t have children! I am regularly in charge of more than one under-3 and basically you have to do what you have to do to keep them safe. My son is a runner and he is FAST! My nightmare is automatically-opening doors. We had to stop going to the Library’s children’s sessions because he could so easily run out of the door and onto the street while I was putting the other one’s coat on. He’s also escaped out of the supermarket, the carpet shop, our house . . . everywhere really. Some might say that I should be teaching him to stay close and come when called, and we’re working on that, but in the meantime I have to make sure that he doesn’t end up under the wheels of a car so sometimes, yes, reins it is! I’m tempted by the wrist strap though as my son tends to lean on his reins which is very tiring for me. My friend used wrist straps for her twins as she found it so difficult to keep one safe while she put the other in the car seat. I personally find restraints a lot less demeaning to a child than yelling at them in the street because they have run off!
    Suddenly Mummy recently posted..Temporary SiblingsMy Profile

  2. We love the backpacks, we have a bumble bee little life one and use the grab handle more often than the leash n part. Another benefit is that when out and about in a crowded Park it makes him instantly visible and easier to track where he is.

    At the end of the day car seats, buggies etc all involve an element of restraint yet the safety far outweighs it.

  3. I don’t like the idea of them. I always said I would not buy one for Cameron as I didn’t want to feel like I was walking a pet. Although I did say if Cameron was proving to be unruly and would not behave when out I would have no choice. Fortunately I never had to go down that route.

    Thank you for linking up with The Weekend Blog Hop

    Laura x

    • Hi, I don’t think it is about being unruly, it is more caution than anything else. I can try to insist that my boy holds onto the buggy, but if he sees something interresting, he will be off, including running into the road. By having a safety harness I am trying to get him to hold onto the buggy, but know that if he darts off he won’t end up under a bus.

      Thanks for the comment, always appreciated.
      Andrew McDougall recently posted..UK Adoption: 8 of the biggest challenges for adoptersMy Profile

  4. Carlo says:

    I think although it does feel like you have you child on a lead, the benefits outweigh the negatives. I think safety is priority. It does let your child have the freedom to walk around, but without the parent having to worry about them running off. I don’t think they are too demeaning for the child. You have your child strapped in a seat when they are in a push chair with no freedom to move around at all, so surely letting them walk on their feet, but still having the peace of mind that they can’t run off and get themselves into danger is a positive?
    Carlo recently posted..Safety Belt WebbingMy Profile

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