Safety Harness, toddler leash, walking harness…there is certainly a lot of debate on what they are and why use one! They seem to fit into the same category as the play pen or the working mum – everyone has an opinion on them! I believe such things are at the discretion of the parents, where the best interests of the child can be taken into account.
When would I use one?
When children are smaller we instantly strap them safely into their stroller when out and about. As they get older or if a stroller may not be available (especially when travelling or when a new sibling arrives) a harness can be a great option. It can ensure they are never out of your sight, while getting some exercise and burning off some of that energy – even in a busy airport or street.
I am noticing their use around my local area is increasing. I don’t often go to a shopping centre now without seeing at least one 2 in 1 harness buddy in particular. And last week I saw a Bear 2 in 1 Harness Buddy walking down the street with a proud owner! Specifically, if a child is a wanderer, then that may be a good reason to use one more regularly. Perhaps you are pregnant and prone to being a bit woozy or have young ones aged close together (they often run in different directions)? Some parents like them while the child is learning to walk, to help avoid spills (but note, they are not manufactured for this purpose). The main reason to consider one is while travelling, even if it gets packed away when you get home.
Airports and amusement parks are the most common recommendations for use – and for good reason! I always find checking through security at a busy airport difficult, watching the kids while making sure your laptop doesn’t disappear and look out if you’re wearing metal…Also try and consider yourself in an unfamiliar environment, such as shopping centres, parks, and museums where you may be more interested in the Louvre rather than your child for a second (only a second)! We also have one child who likes to touch everything, especially when asked not to. A harness can give them an extra arms length without worrying too much about them attempting to remove the crown jewels.
What types are available?
If you feel uncomfortable about using one, then maybe you shouldn’t – but there are many types available. Harnesses are very subtle nowadays and much more commonplace. They are now disguised in fluffy toys, backpacks and wrist straps.
The 2 in 1 Harness Buddy by Goldbug is popular worldwide. It is a cuddly backpack harness which comes in a number of animal styles. It has an adjustable chest and waist strap, making it safe and secure and has a cute animal backpack with ‘tail’ leash. The leash is detachable, so kids can wear it as a pet or small backpack on its own. (And if your daughter is of the girly-girl variety, then the new Butterfly option has fairy-like wings which may be a hit). The pouch is fully lined, but quite small. It would fit a small drink, purse or wallet, snack, tissues, play jewellery, playing cards, pirate treasure etc. Depending on which variety you choose, the pouch has either zip or Velcro closures.
- Price – RRP $AU 34.95
- Age Group – 18 months +
- Care – Fully machine washable
Safety Harness & Reins These are generally made up of an adjustable chest and waist strap. They are popular for travel, especially due to their compact size. There are similar options available across a range of brands, such as Dreambaby, Roger Armstrong, Safety 1st, Valco and Playgro to name a few. The differences to consider are how they attach and detach, the easier the better. Some also have adjustable anchor belts which are useful for securing your little one, especially when you’re eating out and may not have access to a high chair. Also, the harness is generally fixed in a loop and is not a single tether (as some other types of harnesses are) so check that you’re comfortable with the length.
- Price range – between $AU 10 – 15
- Age Group – toddler to preschooler
Backpack Harness These can be practical as they offer the ability to carry a little more of their own gear ‘on board’. The harness option can generally be tucked away or removed when not in use. It would be recommended for older children as the backpack adds a little bulk and weight. They are also a little harder to come by and more pricey, so consider how much use you’ll get from them.
- Price – over $AU 45 +
- Age Group – preschooler +
Wrist Strap There are a few options of this available (also see the Kinderkord below). One is the Dreambaby version which is a stretchy fabric designed for attachment on the carer and child’s wrist (called the Wrist Buddy). Handy if you’re not sure if you’ll need one as they can easily fit into a pocket or bag. It is also modestly priced with various colour options available.
- Price range – $AU 8.95 +
- Age Group – toddler +
Kinderkord The Kinderkord is unique in that Velcro wristbands are attached to yourself and the child. They contain a pulley system which makes the leash retractable. So, they could be used to act as an extra pair of hands if you’re carting luggage or checking in at an airport or motel. And (it was invented by a mother of 2 sets of twins) you can attach multiples to your one wrist strap. My experience at Little Gulliver has seen this especially popular for families undertaking long haul flights, particularly to Europe. It is compact and has a more subtle look than some options. Some like it also for warmer weather, as the child doesn’t need to be wearing extra backpacks which may heat them up.
- Price range – between $AU 30 – 35
- Age Group – toddler +
What is a walking harness, according to Wikipedia;
Some discussions on harness pros and cons;
Little Gulliver has an extensive range of walking harnesses;
www.LittleGulliver.com.au. See our ‘walking’ category here.
I’ve tried to write and consider all the options available in the walking harness category. If there are any I have missed, please let me know! I’d love to see some discussion from users too, what do you like and dislike about walking harnesses? It’s always helpful to others…