Talking about child leashes is like talking about political parties

Parents are either strongly for or strongly against them.

I know this is a touchy subject and I will try to cover it the best that I can in a lighthearted manner. Any offense caused is entirely unintentional. I am simply trying to provide a guide to allow parents who choose to leash to find one that suits their needs.

In the Guide

  1. The great child leash debate
  2. Different types of child leashes
  3. The best child leash
    • Harness harness leash
    • Backpack child leash

With the intro out of the way it’s time to jump right into this touchy subject:

The great child leash debate

Many parents believe that a child leashes…

Looks similar to this:

child leash

And they are right….

Because babies are just like dogs…

  • Unpredictable… You don’t know what they are going to do next.
  • To you, they are the most precious thing in the world
  • poo and wee everywhere unless you train them
  • You can’t understand a word they say
  • They get excited by their own reflection.

Now I’m not going to debate whether child leashes are right or wrong…

Why? I do not fight for either side of the mommy wars, I am neutral (like Switzerland).

Jennifer  says it best:

Instead of judging parents who choose to leash (or choose anything for that matter), it’s important to remember that “we are all unique individuals, with unique children, in unique situations trying to do the best we can, and make the best decisions we can for our unique families.”

Like with every baby product, a child leash can be used correctly or incorrectly. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How it is presented to the child – Is it used as a safety aid or is it portrayed as a way of saying “I don’t trust you, I control this relationship”?
  • When it is used – Is it used near busy roads or is it used around the home?
  • Why it is used – Is it in relation to real danger or is the parent being overly anxious about threats that simply don’t exist?

Be honest when you ask yourself these questions. You don’t want to use a child leash for the wrong reasons.

With all that out of the way, it’s time to take a look at who would benefit from a child leash.

Many parents swear by child leashes and with good reason. They can be amazingly useful. A child leash is ideal for you if any of the following scenarios sound familiar:

  • Your toddler dashes away from you the second you put him down on the ground.
  • Your child is incredibly impulsive and always seems to make the wrong decision.
  • Your child suffers from autism or ADHD.
  • You are walking multiple young children and cannot keep your eye on all of them.

Yes; a child leash is not for every child but if you require one to assist your situation then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

However, even if you do decide that a child leash is perfect for you, your child may decide he hates it and refuse to wear it.

Before we look at the different types of leashes I will leave you with one last piece of advice:

A toddler has not yet mastered balance. When they run and hit the end of the leash they can easily tumble to the ground. You will need to teach your child how to behave while inside the harness.

The different types of child leashes

There are three different types of child leashes. Two are great and one is actually dangerous to your child

Let’s take a closer look at them:

Safety Harness child leash

A safety harness is the simplest of child leashes. The harness loop over the shoulders and clip around the chest of your child with the leash attached to the back of the harness.

The straps of the harness are adjustable so that you will be able to properly fit your child; whether he is a stick insect or more on the chubby side.

A standard safety harness is the cheapest of child leashes. In fact; you can pick a good one for less than $10. Fairly inexpensive for peace of mind.

Because of the lack of features, a standard safety harness is quite small. You could easily hide one inside your diaper bag until it is needed.

Unfortunately, because of the simple design, it also looks the most like a pet leash.

If you are looking for a child harness that doesn’t make it look like you are walking your dog then you will prefer:

Backpack Safety Harness Child leash

A backpack harness works much the way as a standard harness. The only difference is that this harness resembles a backpack.

Attached to the front of the backpack straps are clips that lock your child into the harness. One safety leash is tethered to the back of the backpack while the other end is held in your hand.

Because it looks similar to a regular backpack, many parents find getting their child to wear their harness a much easier task. Many backpack harnesses feature kid-friendly designs (like a puppy, sheep or lion); which helps make these harnesses irresistible to young toddlers and babies.

But to be fair; if I could walk around in a lion backpack I totally would…

Oh, and one added bonus of backpack harnesses:

Ordinarily, if you ask your toddler to hold your stuff (phone, wallet, keys) it is GUARANTEED to end up all over the floor. With a backpack harness, you can actually get your toddler to carry goodies. Whether it is your house keys or your toddler’s favorite toy.

Child wrist leash

In case the big no stamp in the picture above wasn’t a dead giveaway, a wrist leash is dangerous and I simply cannot recommend it as a safety device.


Because it is very likely that it will do your child more harm than good.

  1. With the safety harness, the child is free to swing his arms normally back and forth as he walks. A wrist leash can interfere with your toddler walking correctly.
  2. If you do suddenly need to yank your child back out of danger you risk dislocating your child’s elbow or shoulder. A harness instead distributes the force across a larger surface area (the torso), which in turn helps prevent harm to your little one.
  3. The wrist strap can be incredibly irritating. While a safety harness sits on top of your child’s clothes; a wrist leash will sit on the exposed skin of your little one’s wrist (especially if he is wearing a t-shirt). The leash rubbing against your child’s skin can be uncomfortable or worse, cause a full-blown rash

Given the choice between a wrist leash and a child harness, I would choose the harness every single time.

If you still really want a wrist leash for your child then I strongly recommend this alternative:

A child walking handle

A walking handle will give your child a little more freedom while setting boundaries.

Now for those of you that want to provide their child with a little more independence then why not consider a walking handle.

To put it simply; a walking handle is like a longer version of those handles that dangle from the roof of the train.

Rather than being permanently attached to your child; your child holds the handle of the leash and is only allowed to wander as far as the leash extends (unless he lets go).

Walking handles are used for toddlers who are “too grown up” to hold mommy’s hand. It allows your little one to have a little more independence while teaching him a safe walking distance.

You have to be able to effectively communicate (with praise for doing the right thing) to your child why they are using a walking handle. If your child is too young then it is likely your child will be disinterested and ignore it.

The majority of parents who experience success with a walking handle report that their child was over 2 years of age.

The best child leashes

While some child leashes are fantastic, others just suck.

And you don’t want to be stuck with a child leash that sucks, do you?

Below I will take a closer look at child leashes that outshine their competition.

Handy hint – If you buy a child leash only to discover that the strap is too short, simply replace it with a dog leash from your local pet store (don’t worry; no one will ever know).

Best harness child leash

Plain and simple, a good child harness might not look like much but it will certainly get the job done.

This child harness will keep your little one safe and so much more:

Lucky baby 3-in-1 toddler safety harness

This is hands down my favorite toddler leash on the market. Not only is the harness excellent at stopping your child from running off, it can be turned into a great portable high chair but can also be used as a shopping trolley safety strap as well.

Image 1 - 3-in-1-Toddler-Leash-Harness-Kids-Safety-Harness-Anti-Lost-Belt-Safety-Red

Three pieces of baby gear in a single purchase?


Because of the quality and extra functionality; this leash is a little pricier than others on the market. That said, if you are looking for an unbeatable standard harness then this is your best bet.

Maybe you are on a budget or simply want to test a leash out before committing to a better quality one. If you are nodding along to the last sentence then you could try this leash:

Mommy’s Helper Kid Keeper Economy Leash

The Kid Keeper is a surprisingly affordable child leash. You can pick one up for less than $10. Despite the low cost; the leash is well made and perfect for safety-conscious parents on a budget.

For the price, you get a harness that sits over your child’s upper torso so that it does not dig into the stomach area (lots of sensitive organs there). The shoulder straps are padded to prevent them from digging in and can adjust from 14” to 25.5”

To top it all off, the harness is machine washable. If you have a toddler who has to poke everything that he finds on the ground then this will be a blessing. If only every piece of baby gear was this easy to clean.

While Mommy’s Helper also claims you can use this harness as a portable high chair I simply could not get it to work. If you are looking for a decent cheap harness then this is for you; if you are looking for a portable high chair then I suggest you keep looking.

The problem with the previous two harnesses is that they are not much fun to look at. An appealing design can be the difference between your child loving his leash and rejecting it completely:

GoldBug Animal Harness

Goldbug claims that this harness:

Functions as both a harness and backpack

So why haven’t I included it in my backpack child leash section?

Because the “backpack” section of the harness is nothing more than a pocket that is barely big enough to hold your keys. You can see the rear pocket in the picture below.

However; if you can look past this shortcoming you will actually experience an appealing child leash that is ideal for keeping your little one safe.

The harness is available in lots of different animal designs including bunny, horse, panda, giraffe, and monkey.

The good thing about a leash that your child finds appealing is that he will be much more likely to wear it without complaining.

Let’s take a look at some more appealing leashes that your child will surely love:

Best backpack child leash

The best thing about the following backpacks is that the leash can be removed, allowing your little one to have his own fully functional toddler-sized backpack.

When your toddler walks along side a busy road you can pop the leash back on and your toddler will be none the wiser.

My personal favorite backpack child leash is:

Brica By-My-Side Safety Harness Backpack

While the By-My-Side comes in many different animal designs, this one is my most liked.

But it’s plain and looks like a regular backpack…

And that is exactly why I like it. While the other backpacks have a cute animal face on the front, this one has a mesh pocket (and two smaller ones on the sides). Because the bags are small (toddler sized; remember?) there isn’t a whole lot of space on the outside and an extra pocket can certainly help.

But this is not just a great backpack. It’s also a great child leash.

The focus of this backpack leash is on comfort. The adjustable straps are padded and so is the back panel of the bag. Even if something pointy was placed inside the bag compartment, your toddler probably wouldn’t feel it poke into his back.

The removable tether has an elastic “shock absorber” sewn in. What this means is that if your toddler stumbles or runs into traffic and you have to suddenly yank him back; the uncomfortable shock feeling will be reduced.

If you wanted an animal leash backpack that still has space to hold your things then you cannot go past this one:

Skip Hop Zoo Safety Harness

Available in 6 fun animal designs, this child leash is big on cuteness and big on safety.

When you run your hands over this backpack leash the first thing you will notice is it’s a quality build. The stitching is tight and the zipper runs smooth. The durable materials will means the backpack will last long after your child has outgrown the need to be leashed.

See the source image

Pretty cute; right? You probably wish you had one for yourself (I know I do).


There is no denying that a child leash is an excellent safety device. But before I wrap up this article I want you to ask yourself a question.

What happens when you can no longer use a child leash?

You won’t always be able to rely on a leash to keep your child safe (can you imagine, a teenager in a leash?). A child leash should not be used as a substitute for teaching your child safe practices.

Skipping the leash will be much harder in the short run but; through the use of your words and actions, you may help your children develop responsible safety skills that will last a lifetime.

Simply throwing a leash on your child may keep him protected but you may also be depriving him of valuable life lessons.

Every parent’s situation is different and once again I am not saying that child leashes are right or wrong. I just like parents to think about their own personal situation rather than following a crowd.

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